Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.
Nappy Roots couldn't have picked a more appropriate lead single than "Roun' the Globe" to introduce their Atlantic sophomore set, "Wooden Leather."
The success of the act's 2002 debut, "Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz," certainly took the sextet of R. Prophet, Big V, Skinny DeVille, Scales, Ron Clutch and B. Stille on a journey around the world. The group was even one of the few hip-hop acts to travel with the USO to Iraq. Not bad for a troupe of boys from Kentucky.
"It was eye-opening to see the type of things [the soldiers] have to go through," Scales says. "It can get up to 130 degrees, and electricity and running water are only available in a few places. When we went to Baghdad, the troops were staying in a hangar at the Saddam Hussein International Airport, sleeping on the floor -- and their main concern was seeing us perform. It was a big morale booster for them, and that meant a lot to me."
R. Prophet adds, "It was a spiritual thing. I remember sitting out by the pool with the sun beaming next to the ocean. It was like charging my battery. One of the pilots told us if we looked closely we could see Egypt. It was mind-blowing."
Footage from the trip was incorporated into the videoclip for the first single, "Roun' the Globe."
Released Aug. 26, "Wooden Leather" aims to build on the group's success while remaining true to the formula that helped sell more than 1.2 million copies of its debut, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
"We like to build off of every piece of work we make," Scales says. "We always want [to be] better, so this album shows a lot of growth."
Nappy Roots have already appeared on MTV's "DFX," Fuse's "IMX," "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and WB's "Pepsi Smash." Upcoming appearances are planned for "Showtime at the Apollo," FX's "The Orlando Jones Show" and BET's "Rap City" and "106 & Park." A full-scale tour is also being planned.
Nappy Roots believe that their music is the kind that will last, hence the new album's title.
"'Wooden Leather' resembles a lot of things that you come across in American culture," Skinny DeVille says. "The 'wood' is the structure. You can look at 'leather' as success. If you take care of them both, they will last forever -- they both represent quality.
"These are things that we have been accustomed to for generations and generations. It's almost like 'Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz' but not quite," he adds. "It shows the growth and development of Nappy Roots in making classic material that will last a lifetime for you and your sons and daughters."
Excerpted from the Sept. 6, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services section.
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