Nappy not coming home

Zach Mills

Nappy Roots is coming home . sort of.

They are playing at Kentucky State, Morehead, Kentucky and Eastern, but they won’t be here.

Not anytime soon, anyway.

The group’s college tour schedule skipped Western, and some students are disappointed.

Louisville sophomore Annie Henning is a fan of Nappy Roots. Although she enjoys the band’s music, she feels Nappy Roots has not fulfilled their responsibility to Western.

“I’m angry because they didn’t finish what they started,” she said. “Don’t turn your back on your fans.”

Henning’s frustration started when a Nappy Roots concert at the Corvette museum was rained out last spring. Henning expected to receive word about a make-up concert but that word never came.

Concert promoter Darrel Lee told the Herald in April that he wasn’t sure if Nappy Roots would come back to Bowling Green.

According to their contract, Nappy Roots had to perform, Lee said. And since the group performed one-and-a-half songs on the amphitheater stage during a 6 p.m. sound check, they had technically honored their part of the contract, he explained.

But students still want Nappy.

“Nobody said, ‘We’re going to refund your money,'” Henning said. “They just said ‘Get in your cars. The concert is canceled.’ The next thing we heard, ‘Nappy Roots at Morehead, $20!'”

Henning said she appreciates the fact that Nappy Roots came home to Kentucky, but the group should have tried harder to make it to Bowling Green.

Henning’s loyalty as a fan remains steadfast.

“I love Nappy Roots! You see me representing,” she said, pointing to a Nappy Roots sticker on the back of her wheel chair.

Henning said you can’t come to Bowling Green now without thinking of Nappy Roots.

“The guys are good-looking, too!” she said, smiling.

The limelight

The men of Nappy Roots have done Letterman, Leno, Soul Train and have even performed at Cleveland’s legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

By now, just about all of America has heard Nappy Roots say “AwNaw.” And most people have heard them say how they’re “ballin’ on a budget,” and how they’ve been “Po'” all their lives.

Carson Daly expressed on national television that he wants to be a Nappy Root.

Gov. Paul Patton even proclaimed Sept. 16 “Nappy Roots Day.” Band members “Big V,” “Ron Clutch,” “Scales,” “R. Prophet,” “B. Stille” and “Skinny DeVille” were all named “Kentucky Colonels.”

Roots

The six men of Nappy Roots first combined their creative talents on Western’s campus in 1995. They were just another newly-formed rap group, with the same dream most young-blooded musicians have – making it big one day.

Although they gathered a small following among Western students and the people of Bowling Green, Nappy Roots hadn’t yet managed to garner the prominence as rappers they needed to attract the attention of major record labels.

But Nappy Roots was determined to get a break. They launched an independent album in 1998, “COUNTRY FRIED CESS,” that proved successful.

Not long after, Atlantic Records began to smell the “Nappy” aroma.

Big break

After signing a contract with Atlantic Records in 1998, this hip-hop-country boy sextet steadily shed their anonymity and made Nappy Roots a household name.

Their debut album for Atlantic Records, “Watamelon, Chicken, and Gritz,” was released Feb. 26 and has since catapulted Nappy Roots into the national spotlight.

Nappy Roots has marketed their down-to-earth personas through head-bobbing beats and their astute, home-grown, country-bred lyrics.

The group’s manager, Kevin Mitchell, said Nappy Roots doesn’t conform to the current hip-hop fad of making materialism the object and subject of video and lyrical content.

“Rap music has a very negative image outside the rap community. Ignorant. Materialistic,” Mitchell said. “Nappy stands for everything against that. They stand for the common folk, whom represent 95 percent of America. They’re the voice of the common folk.”

Paying homage

John Davis Jr., owner of Bowling Green’s Spot Cash Store, not only knows the members of Nappy Roots personally, but he is in one of their videos.

The group came into Davis’ men’s clothing and shoe store to shop and decided to shoot part of the video for their single “AwNaw” there.

When Davis was told Nappy was a rap group, he said, “That ain’t no kind of music.”

But after Davis saw the piles of clothing they stacked on the counter, Davis said, “Oh, yeah, that’s music!”

Davis said he “cranked up” his 50s and 60s rock and roll music throughout the store, and they all had a great time.

“They’re not like other rap groups,” he said.

Nappy’s music appeals to Davis because he said they’re not talking about negative things.

“They’re well mannered,” he said. “They don’t talk about murdering or raping.”

Mitchell said Nappy Roots, “the voice of common folk,” has been on tour since Jan. 15, and they’ve only been home a handful of times.

“They’ve been to every nook and cranny of America, and then some,” Mitchell said.

All of Nappy’s members, except “Scales,” are from Kentucky.

But their work is paying off. Mitchell listed their accomplishments.

“Watamelon, Chicken, and Gritz,” certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, currently ranks 18th among Billboard’s R&B and Rap albums.

The album ranked as high as third.

The band did photo shoots for popular magazines Vibe, Vanity Fair and The Source.

Nappy released its first DVD collection “Nappy Roots: The World According to Nappy,” which features behind-the-scenes filming and on-the-road footage.

What’s next?

According to Mitchell, shooting for the video of their newest single, “Headz Up,” just wrapped up. It should hit televisions and radios by the end of October.

The group is also discussing launching a clothing line, Mitchell said.

Meanwhile, the remix of “AwNaw” was selected by EA Sports to be featured on the soundtrack of the video game Madden NFL 2003.

And Nappy is working on their second album, which is scheduled to be completed next spring.

After serving America a healthy portion of “watamelon,” a little chicken, with a side of “gritz,” Nappy Roots is proving to the music world they can compete with the best in the music game.

Zach Mills can be reached at [email protected]