Country rap – also known as country hip-hop, or hick-hop – is a genre that has been bubbling away for over two decades. In recent times, the popularity of country rappers like Lil Nas X has seen a renewed interest in the genre.
Emanating from Atlanta, the hip-hop capital, and Nashville, the country music capital, country rap blends elements of country music with rap and hip-hop. Early protagonists in the genre include Kid Rock and Nelly. Since the last 2010s, the scene has been pushed forward by trap artists including Young Thug and others.
With country music historically dominated by white artists, and hip-hop generally dominated by black artists, country rap has given rise to a mix of white and black country rappers, as this list demonstrates.
Let’s dive in to discover the most important country rap artists of all time up until today.
Lil Nas X
It’s only natural for Lil Nas X to be the first name on this list. Lil Nas X burst onto the country rap scene in 2019 with his smash hit ‘Old Town Road.’
The trap-influenced country rap track spent nineteen weeks at number on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making it the longest-running number one single in the chart’s history – an incredible accolade.
The young artist followed up ‘Old Town Road’ with singles ‘Panini’ and ‘Rodeo,’ releasing his debut album Montero in 2021.
His 2021 singles ‘Montero (Call Me By Your Name)’ and ‘Industry Baby’ with Jack Harlow also topped the Billboard Hot 100, cementing Lil Nas X’s place in the country rap scene. Lil Nas X is undoubtedly one of the most promising country rappers of the new generation.
Kid Rock was a seminal figure in the country rap scene. Blending elements of hip-hop, rock, and country, Kid Rock was one of the first to make the unlikely fusion popular. His 1999 single ‘Cowboy’ was one the first commercially success country rap songs, forming the foundation for country rap as a genre.
In his early days, Kid Rock’s music had more of a rap and hip-hop leaning, with the artist exploring breakdancing, rap, and DJing in the 80s and 90s.
His later releases in the 00s leaned more in the direction of rock and country, as demonstrated by his 2002 single ‘Picture’ with Sheryl Crow. Nonetheless, Kid Rock’s legacy as a formative country rap artist is certain.
This list would not be complete without Nelly. Although Nelly is not by many as a straightforward R&B and hip-hop artist, many of his records have had a strong country element to them. He is without a doubt one of the true OG country rappers.
Nelly’s first major contribution to country rap came in the form of his 2000 album Country Grammar. The album, which reached the number one position on the Billboard 200 album chart, sold over eight million copies. Tracks including the lead single ‘Country Grammar’ showed a strong influence of country music, blended with rap.
Nelly’s country rap journey continued with his 2004 single ‘Over and Over’ which featured country singer Tim McGraw. The track was a worldwide success, topping charts in the UK, Ireland, and Australia.
Nelly’s 2021 album Heartland sees him continue to explore his country roots. The record peaked at number seven on Billboard’s Top Country Albums, and position forty-five on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
Bubba Sparxxx was one of the biggest names in country rap in the 00s. The artist grew up in rural Georgia, and allegedly got into rap thanks to a neighbour who received rap mixtapes from New York in the mail.
Sparxxx has had two hits with Timbaland, ‘Deliverance’ and ‘Ugly,’ and his track ‘Ms. New Booty’ reached number seven on the Billboard Hot 100. He’s also known for his 2012 song, ‘Country Folks’ featuring fellow country rapper, Colt Ford.
Featuring the refrain ‘country fried, baptized in gravy / I can’t wash off what the good Lord made ya / no matter how far that highway goes / an old dirt road’ll get you home’ perfectly captures the sentiment of music of Bubba Sparxxx’s music.
Bubba Sparxxx made waves in the 00s with his first three albums, all of which peaked in the top ten of the Billboard 200 album charts.
Colt Ford is one of the most-established country rap artists on the scene, and has found significant success through fusing country music with rap.
An artist who is loved in both the world of country and rap, he is the only artist who has topped both the country and rap album charts. His 2012 album Declaration of Independence topped the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, and his 2014 album Thanks for Listening topped the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
Hailing from Georgia, like fellow country rapper Bubba Sparxxx, Ford’s biggest hits include ‘Dirt Road Anthem’ (2010) and ‘The High Life’ (2014) with Chase Rice. Ford is also a professional golfer.
Aside from being one of the most famous country rappers on the scene, and a successful golfer, Colt Ford is the cofounder of the country rap record label Average Joes Entertainment.
Blanco Brown is a country rapper and producer who has helped revive the scene in recent times. Initially known as a producer who worked with the likes of Chris Brown and Pitbull, Brown’s 2019 single ‘The Git Up’ became something of a viral sensation with its popular dance moves. The track topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and peaked at fourteen on the Billboard Hot 100.
His debut album Honeysuckle & Lightning Bugs (2019) reached position sixteen on the Top Country Albums chart.
Since the success of ‘The Git Up,’ Blanco Brown appeared on Nelly’s 2021 single ‘High Horse.’ Surprisingly, given Nelly’s clout within the country rap scene, and Blanco Brown’s recent success, ‘High Horse’ failed to chart.
Hailing from Texas, Troy Lee Coleman III is better known as Cowboy Troy. He was one of the major country rappers in the 00s, with his second album Loco Motive (2005) peaking at number two on the Billboard country album chart, and thirteen on the rap chart.
Troy earned his nickname Cowboy Troy at school, where he was known for wearing a cowboy hat. The artist’s biggest hit is his 2005 single ‘I Play Chicken with the Train’ with country duo Big & Rich, which came off his Loco Motive album.
Later singles including ‘If You Don’t Wanna Love Me’ with Sarah Buxton didn’t make it into the charts, with Troy’s musical output decreasing over the past decade. Troy was arguably the most successful black country rapper of the 00s.
Yelawolf is one of the most prolific country rappers of the last two decades, having steadily released seven solo albums, five collaborative albums, and several EPs and mixtapes since emerging on the scene in 2005. Yelawolf, who was born in Alabama and grew up in Tennessee, derives his name from his Cherokee heritage.
Over the years, Yelawolf has collaborated extensively, including a 2012 EP with Ed Sheeran, a 2012 EP with Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, and in 2020, a collaborative album with nu-metal band Korn.
His most successful album to date is his 2015 Love Story which reached number three on the Billboard Hot 200 album chart, topped Billboard’s rap album chart, and charted in countries across Europe. His biggest hits include his 2014 single ‘Till It’s Gone’ and his 2015 single ‘Best Friend’ featuring Eminem.
Clay ‘Uncle Snap’ Sharpe and Brian ‘Rooster’ King make up the country rap duo The Lacs. The pair have been one of the most successful country rap artists over the past decade, consistently charting on Billboard’s country and rap albums charts, as well as the Billboard Hot 100.
The duo’s most successful album to date was their 2013 Keep It Redneck, which reached number three on the Top Country Albums chart, and number five on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
Their hits include ‘Kickin’ Up Mud,’ ‘Keep It Redneck,’ ‘Country Road,’ and ‘Country Boy’s Paradise.’
Upchurch, formerly known as Ryan Upchurch and Upchurch The Redneck, is a country rapper who hails from Tennessee. Upchurch created comedy videos to help build his following, and he has become one of the most successful country rappers on the scene today.
Whilst Upchurch is immersed in both country and rap, some of his records make the crossover more than others – some records are heavy on the rap side, but others lean clearly into country rock, with little reference to rap music.
His most successful album, and his definitive country rap album to date, was Chicken Willie (2016), which peaked at number twenty-two on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart, and number eleven on Billboard’s rap albums chart.
A prolific artists, Upchurch has dropped some eighteen albums since appearing on the scene in 2016. His biggest hits include ‘Holler Boys,’ ‘Southern Land,’ and ‘Cheatham Country.’
Young Thug is first and foremost a trap artist, but his recent forays in country rap earn him a place on this list. Known for his aesthetic eccentricity and experimentalism, it is not a surprise to see Thugger venture into the country rap arena.
His main country rap song is his 2017 single ‘Family Don’t Matter’ featuring Millie Go Lightly. The track, which has amassed over twelve million streams on YouTube, was clearly seminal for country trap, laying the foundations for several other country trap songs – including, most significantly, Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road.’ The song is also arguably one of the best Young Thug songs.
Other artists who have dipped into the country trap genre include Lil Tracy with his track ‘Like a Farmer’ featuring Lil Uzi Vert (2018), DaBaby with ‘Walker Texas Ranger’ (2018), and FlyRich Double with ‘Yup (On My Tractor)’ (2018).
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