The worlds of country and hip-hop are set to intersect once more with the Average Joe's release of "Right," a new single that pairs Bubba Sparxxx with Rodney Atkins. For his part, Bubba says the collaboration has been a long time in coming.
"I am super stoked about it," he says. "I had met Rodney back about 2007. We met at the Southern Sports Awards show near Charlotte, NC. We were both performing there, and we kind of hit it off from the introduction. We had always talked about doing something together. When I started working on this album with Noah Gordon, we heard this song, and I thought it would be perfect for me and Rodney. We got it to him, he got on it, and I couldn't be anymore excited. I think it's going to do some big things for both of us."
|Bubba + Rodney|
Sparxxx tells Billboard that he's finding fans of both formats are more of like mind and taste than ever.
"Nowadays, if you're under 50 years old, you grew up in the hip / hop generation. It's been around since the late 70s, and I would say since the early 90s, it's been even bigger. So, these guys in their 20s and 30s who are country music stars, they grew up listening to a little bit of rap. It's influenced certain aspects of them, and it's an exciting time for me. The lines are getting more blurry, and I think it's exciting. I grew up in a rural area hunting and fishing, but I just happened to fall in love with hip hop music when I heard it. My music has always been influenced by country and southern rock. It's always been present in everything I've done. For me, it's a continuation of what I've been doing."
The Georgia native recalled his own musical influences, and admitted they stretch far and wide.
"Run-D.M.C and the Beastie Boys were some of the first rap acts I remember hearing. I fell in love with the spirit – much the same way my dad grew up listening to Hank Williams and Waylon Jennings. It was similar, an outlaw spirit which was embodied in both styles of music. For a lot of people, it seems like it was a crazy thing, but it was just natural for me. When I heard Outkast, they were from Atlanta, and I related from them being from Georgia. I started to realize there might be some ears for my voice. Most of the things they were talking about were revolutionary, as most of the rap or hip hop guys I was listening to were from New York or LA, but this was a southern perspective, and it worked. That gave me hope."
He was also listening to many of the acts that his father favored.
"We listened to Hank Jr, Merle Haggard, and George Jones," he recalled. "My dad cried when George Jones passed away last April. That's how big of a George Jones fan he was. That was his hero, and I had a brother that listened to heavy metal, so there was a lot of different music around."
"Right" has been in the can for awhile, and both artists are glad that the single is about to be released to the masses. The "Right" video is set to premiere on AXS TV's "Your Country" on Feb. 16.
"We're both so excited about this record. It's been recorded for a year and a half. Every month, he hits me up wanting to know when we're going to do something with it. I'm excited about it, but I think Rodney is about as excited."
Sparxxx, born Warren Anderson Mathis, says the lyrical content will find a home with both of their audiences.
"It was important that Rodney and I collaborated on a song with a strong message we both believe in, which is the case with 'Right,'" comments Sparxxx. "And just like it relates to the both of us, I think it will relate to each listener in some way. We all have some aspect of our life we want to get 'right.' Additionally, Rodney and I stayed true to who we are as people and artists. He's not rapping and I'm not singing. Not to mention, Rodney is one of the most down to earth, genuine people I've ever had the privilege of working with."