There's a certain appealing perversity to the idea of Cowboy Troy, the self-proclaimed "hick-hop" artist: he's the first country rapper, dropping science over boot-scootin' country co-written and produced by Big & Rich, the biggest and weirdest duo in modern country circa 2005. It seems like Cowboy Troy could be the 21st century Charley Pride or perhaps something even hipper, but his debut, Loco Motive (there's a joke in that title, by the way), is something else entirely: an album so awful, it inspires genuine awe. Which isn't to say that country-rap is an inherently bad concept -- in fact, Kid Rock and Bubba Sparxxx have both come close to a more genuine fusion of white trash and hip-hop than this -- and it's not even to say that there aren't moments on Loco Motive that kind of work. Thanks to Big & Rich, there are some nagging hooks that are impossible to shake, and the music often carries the same sort of gleeful, cross-pollination pandering that made their Horse of a Different Color a hit. No, the problem is with the main man himself, Cowboy Troy, a rapper who has so much style and skill, he seems like an extended Wayne Brady skit. Troy claims "I've been flowing since Madonna was strikin' poses," a reference to the Material Girl's hit "Vogue," which topped the charts in 1990. It's an appropriate allusion, since it sounds like Cowboy Troy hasn't listened to any rap since Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em. He cranks out plodding, heavy-handed, self-aggrandizing rhymes, tripping over his words and never modulating his intonation or volume. Doesn't matter what he's rhyming about; doesn't matter if the song has a thick rock beat or is a misguided update on LL Cool J's "I Need Love"; doesn't even matter if he's rapping in English, Spanish, or Mandarin, as he does on the grotesque "Wrap Around the World" -- you know that Troy is going to serve it up slow, simple, and loud, as if he was a member of the Sugarhill Gang rapping to a foreigner who's hard of hearing. This makes for terrible music, but it's the kind of terrible music that you can't wait to play for other people. After hearing a couple of tracks, you keep listening, stifling your laughter, anticipating the next boneheaded move Troy is going to make. Inevitably, he makes the same boneheaded move each time out, but waiting to hear him stumble over Sarah Buxton's sighing vocals on "If You Don't Wanna Love Me" is what makes listening to Loco Motive fun. To be sure, that's not what Cowboy Troy or Big & Rich intended, but it's the only reason why anybody would want to listen to this record from start to finish, and that unintentional humor is what's going to make Loco Motive a cult record of sorts.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
feat: Sarah Buxton
feat: James Otto
feat: Jon Nicholson