Fiddles. Washboards. Empty moonshine jugs. Not exactly your typical idea of musical instruments? Well Bubba Sparxxx is not your typical rap artist. After "Dark Days, Bright Nights" hit the airwaves in 2001, "white trash" rural Georgia became part of the national landscape. For Bubba and his partner-in-crime Timbaland, the items above aren't just unusual musical instruments but badges of country pride. Bubba is country through and through, and he shares that Dirty South with his listeners in every song.
Given the Nappy Roots already proved in 2003 that "the whole damn world is country" with their smash hit "Roun' the Globe," one would think that Bubba is primed for the big time with this latest release. For whatever reason though, many of the same people who liked Timbaland's work on the last album attribute Bubba's successes solely to him. The naysayers are as crass as they are numerous, with assertions that Bubba is to Tim what Eminem is to Dr. Dre, but without even giving Bubba the credit as a lyricist Eminem so routinely gets. Obviously it's stung the proud Georgian, because on "Nowhere" featuring Kiley Dean, he adresses the matter directly:
"It all comes down to this, one last chance to advance
Beyond the second round of the big dance, all my plans
of bein viewed as somethin special, more than just the other one
will vanish in the vapors of the plague the South has suffered from
The world's weight, PLUS a ton, restin on my shoulders
But what detractors deem my curse, is blessed to the beholder
Cause Eminem's incredible, but did I really have to say this
For y'all to leave my soul at rest and add me to yo' play list?
But this time I may just, leap and clear that hurdle man
Cause it's gone be a million more, who knows if they'll be worth a damn
Bubba K I surely am, with that silky kind of sound
Carson tell yo' folks that I'll be early for this time around
Cause I've come too far, for my own mistakes to dwell me
Cause lookin back at self-inflicted wounds that ache and ail me
There's nothin they can tell me, get me somewhere in a hurry
If I'm nowhere let that nowhere be nowhere near a worry
Bubba's words show his growth as a writer of rhymes, while his delivery continues to be a smooth mixture of rap and redneck. Timbaland's music on this track shows artistic growth too, as the slow and somber strings draw out over a powerful bass and drums that pound like a heartbeat. Even Dean shows promise on this remarkable song, as her crooning adds soul to the chorus without trying to upstage either the track or the rap. It's a vivid concoction, but Bubba has been brewing this one up for a while and has 14 more songs of pure grain to fuck up your head. The quasi-official first single "Jimmy Mathis" had heads wide open with the best harmonica heard in rap since "The Shipment" by The Coup (country by way of Oakland). It's a light-hearted romp musically, but Bubba is as determined as he is belligerent in his verbiage:
"Any blood shed for a cause it deserves it
It's blood well worth it, we fought to preserve it
You caught him in person, you know Bubba's psyched out
You hate it when they talk, but love it when I shout
Fuck with me I doubt, that you really can
When I get to doin, my hillbilly dance
A step to the left, then two back to the right
Take a shot of the trone and then get back to the mic
Yeah I'm rappin tonight, but soon as the light hit
I'm all about the green, man to hell with this white shit
Unless it's that white shit, that speed up your pulse rates
Some party saccarhin, so sweet with a dub taste
This what they must face, I'ma be right here
Spittin these flames out, and drinkin Bud Light beer
'til the cows home and the dogs quit barkin
Daddy tell 'em who I am and don't beg no pardons"
Bubba and Timbaland seem to have the same inseperable connection that the latter does with Missy Elliott. Each song has two disparate elements weaved together into one common thread, and nowhere is that more true than on his track for "She Tried." This song is a knockout punch of bluegrass fiddling that would stir the emotions of even the most street saavy urbanite, as a woeful Bubba recounts the mistakes the games he played and all of the bad mistakes he made. Print will really not do this one justice:
"I love her, but you never would know
that by the way I just let my girl go
With tears in her eyes, from years of the lies
She backed on up and dissapeared out the drive
Wait, hey, what can I say?
All we had means nothing today
I did my thing and she did hers
But my crimes are a wee bit worse
And now I'm sittin here all alone with my guilt
Just me and the dogs in the home that we built
It was Andy's and hers even though Bubba bought it
But Bubba wouldn't leave, just like her mother caught it
from the pink, only to the blue blame
God forgive me for causin you pain
All it was, ain't no more
Cause my baby's gone and when it rains it pours"
The lyrical topics cover a wide range of emotions, from the defiant "Overcome" to the hurried and harried "Warrant" featuring Attitude to the Organized Noise produced "New South" proclaiming the Bubba Sparxx rap as the forefront of rap's new generation. The title track "Deliverance" says it all though - a souful mixture of strummed licks, hand claps, hoot calls and a lush orchestration that boldly proclaims Timbaland second to none among hip-hop's beat elite. That he would entrust such a creation to Bubba Sparxxx shows his faith in the Athens rapper, and Sparxxx doesn't let him down with his rap:
"Can you recall a time people loved you unconditionally?
Toastin the new South, 'This one is for history!'
Then I slipped fell and caused the number's injury
Called the same people and it's, 'Yo you just missed him B!'
This the formula, dammit Bubba you had it
Why'd you have to keep it Polo and New Balance?
Then they start to question whether you a true talent
Or just a redneck substance of used addict
So then you hide away just to try to find your way
And now they back to callin you 200 times a day
I want all y'all to know, good or bad, I'll remember it
And 10 million sold in the name of my deliverance-AHH!"
Bubba is the truth. Whether it's somewhat off-kilter and silly like the funked out "Hootnanny," rock'n'roll like "Take a Load Off" or silky smooth like Organized Noise's "Like it or Not" with Sleepy Brown or hardcore and heavy like their closer "Back in the Mud," it's all good in Bubba's hood... or perhaps wood? He's the self-declared "hip-hop redneck" and happy with the label, and will undoubtedly continue to rep moonshine and dope rhymes as long as he's given a beat and mic to rock. It's high time white rappers stopped being compared to Eminem and started to be appreciated on their own merits, and Bubba's merits truly put him in a class of his own.
Music Vibes: 9 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8.5 of 10
Originally posted: September 23, 2003