Why Country Stars and Rap Stars Aren't As Different As You Might Think

The concept isn’t totally new but with newer country-rap pairings like the unfortunate “Accidental Racist” collaboration between Brad Paisley and LL Cool J and old not-so-favorites like “Over and Over Again” by Tim McGraw and Nelly seem to remind us why the two are so easy to pair: they happen to share a lot of similarities in artist characteristics, topic nature and expression, and rabid popularity among a polarizing fan base.

The origins

Both country and rap tend to represent a marginalized part of society, often representing a less-than-favorable socioeconomic class. Southern “rednecks” and “gangstas” from a city base that grew from the poorest boroughs of New York City and the meanest areas outside Los Angeles to now rappers from Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Toronto, and Seattle identify with the musical origins of music stars in these genres just starting out. And as their stars begin to rise, rags to riches stories unfold in their lives and the art follows that progression. In many ways, both follow the American dream by utilizing a genre of music that allows them to succeed and thrive despite the social, racial and economic boundaries that can bar many from success.

The theme: poor backgrounds to rich new lives

The comparison: Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Made in America” and Alabama’s “High Cotton”



The visions

These two genres tend to have some of the easiest music video themes because the lyrics in the songs tend to weave vivid pictures of emotional portrayals of trials and tribulations. Although the cultures may seem — and sometimes in fact are — at odds, in many respects the way that they have been misunderstood by those not in the culture has created the strand of music that runs between country artists from Keith Urban to and rap stars like Macklemore or Big Sean and on back to Doug E. Fresh and Run DMC.

The theme: crime

The comparison: Common’s “Testify” and Johnny Cash’s “Cocaine Blues”



The struggles of fame

Just like those that become successful, both country stars and rap sensations feel the pressures of fame and success, and often use music to express the frustrations that come from that. Snoop, back when he was more of a canine and less of a feline, said it best: “Everybody’s got they cups but they ain’t chipped in.”

The theme: fame and exploitation of it

The comparison: B.o.B. “Ray Bands” and Brad Paisley’s “Celebrity”



The faith

Both cultures that spring a large amount of stars in both arenas tend to invest heavily in faith as well and can express this in their music, even without being labeled a Christian act or a Muslim rapper. And in many ways they can bring this message to the mainstream in a way that some Christian acts cannot. I mean, no one had heard of Katy Perry when she was a blonde with a guitar following her parents wishes and using her music to express her faith but people have definitely heard Rascal Flatts’ “Bless The Broken Road.”

The theme: religion

The comparison: Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks” and Carrie Underwood “Jesus Take the Wheel”



The sex

It would be neglectful to think that either one of these genres doesn’t also relish and at times glorify the opposite sex in a way that can be at times subtle and loving and at other times just downright dirty. People have had milkshakes bring all the boys to the yard and had tractors help seduce the opposite sex and remind them of their charms. At the end of the day, musicians aren’t immune to a good looking lady or gentlemen — or four or five of them.

The theme: getting down

The comparison: Salt-N-Pepa “Shoop” and Jason Aldean “Take A Little Ride”



How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Jazmine Woodberry

Jazmine Woodberry is a communications professional working in nonprofit communications, journalism, and technical writing and editing. As a professional writer, she has had work published by Thomson Reuters, The New York Times Co., the Huffington Post, the Arizona Republic, the Chicago Tribune, Gourmet News to name a few. When not writing for work or for fun, she's easily found in a great hole-in-the-wall restaurant, on a night ride on her vintage Schwinn road bike, wearing scarves and boots during whatever season she pleases and indulging in all-day TV and movie marathons when she can squeeze it in her schedule.

MORE FROM

Hannibal Burress completely owned the 'Spiderman: Homecoming' red carpet and he didn't even go

The comedian sent a look-alike instead.

The new 'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle' trailer pulls a couple of genius switcheroos

It's 2017, which means "Jumanji" is a video game, and the selfie-obsessed girl turns into Jack Black.

The 'Game of Thrones' showrunners are almost done writing the final season

The final season may not arrive until 2019.

Why Halle Berry believes her Oscar win "meant nothing" to diversity in Hollywood

Here is how the actress is getting involved to bring more diversity to Hollywood.

The 'Pretty Little Liars' series finale tackled fertility and it was the realest the show ever got

British evil twin aside, the 'Pretty Little Liars' finale dealt with a serious issue in a sober way.

'Baby Driver' reviews: Critics are in love with Edgar Wright's latest high-octane film

'Baby Driver' is being called one of the summer's best films.

Hannibal Burress completely owned the 'Spiderman: Homecoming' red carpet and he didn't even go

The comedian sent a look-alike instead.

The new 'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle' trailer pulls a couple of genius switcheroos

It's 2017, which means "Jumanji" is a video game, and the selfie-obsessed girl turns into Jack Black.

The 'Game of Thrones' showrunners are almost done writing the final season

The final season may not arrive until 2019.

Why Halle Berry believes her Oscar win "meant nothing" to diversity in Hollywood

Here is how the actress is getting involved to bring more diversity to Hollywood.

The 'Pretty Little Liars' series finale tackled fertility and it was the realest the show ever got

British evil twin aside, the 'Pretty Little Liars' finale dealt with a serious issue in a sober way.

'Baby Driver' reviews: Critics are in love with Edgar Wright's latest high-octane film

'Baby Driver' is being called one of the summer's best films.