Nappy Roots

Wooden Leather

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Fans will be pleased to find that a platinum-selling major-label splash and critical praise from all quarters hasn't gentrified the gloriously rustic Nappy Roots in the slightest. Scraping and scrapping down South just like they did on Watermelon, Chicken and Gritz, the six-pack of rapping Kentuckians alter their focus only slightly on Wooden Leather, the group's second album for Atlantic after two self-released LPs. They do make a few concessions to their new globe-trotting schedule, courtesy of the video hit "Roun' the Globe," which declares in the chorus that the Nappy aesthetic is starting to take hold ("the whole damn world's country"). Fortunately they never swap their emphasis on some serious crunk-drawling for rap music's usual curb-sitting; in fact, the group expand their purview to look lovingly at lower-class life from several viewpoints: perseverance on "Push On," dogged self-improvement on "Work in Progress," and a fatalistic despair on "These Walls" (sample lyric: "As darkness approaches and I'm fumbling through the blunt roaches/It's looking hopeless, totally unfocused, stumbling onto the front porch"). Of course, the infamous clap is never far away, and Wooden Leather is nearly as much a bounce party as before, led by the Lil' Jon collaboration "What Cha Do? (The Anthem)" and the squelchy funk of "Good God Almighty."

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