Genre lines have been blurred more than ever in 2019 thanks to Lil Nas X’s hybrid sensation “Old Town Road.” But Blanco Brown has been insisting that country lyrics can be paired with trap sounds for years.
The 34-year-old Atlanta native had his first record deal when he was seven years old. He later moved behind the scenes and began producing when that fell through; his talents eventually landed him in rooms with Pitbull, Fergie, Chris Brown and other R&B artists. Meanwhile, Brown pursued his passion for country music on the side, and in 2011, his two worlds collided for the first time.
“I pulled up an old country song and put 808s on it,” Brown recalls. “It became so dope. I was like, ‘This right here is next level.’ After I got comfortable with the sound in 2012, I started letting my friends hear those records. They were like, ‘Man, you onto something.'”
Seven years later, Brown now has his own boundary-pushing hit with “The Git Up,” a twangy feel-good track that’s initiated a viral dance craze, thanks to its instructional lyrics like “Take it to the left now and dip with it/ Gon’ throw down take a sip with it/ Now lean back put your hips in it.” Fans have shared countless videos with their own take on the dance, which has helped “The Git Up” shoot to No. 2 on the Country Streaming Songs chart (dated June 29) after just two weeks. It also landed Brown his first Billboard Hot 100 hit, currently sitting at No. 51 in its second week.
As the song keeps climbing up the charts, Billboard chatted with Brown about how “The Git Up” came to be and how it continues what “Old Town Road” started.
You have produced for Chris Brown and Fergie. What led you to country music?
Country was my first outlet, [where] I [could] escape realities and write about fantasies. Then, as I was demo-ing records for Kane Brown in 2015, I was like, “I could do this!” My friends would be like, “You‘re black. You can’t sing country.” And I was like, “Look at Darius Rucker.” And they were like, “Darius Rucker tricked everybody, he was in Hootie & The Blowfish first.” I was like, “I don’t know if y’all have a point!” [Laughs.]
I started riding in shared Lyfts to play my records in 2017, and I realized [my music] had nothing to do with my race. I never got a negative response. I was like, “I feel like I could really bless people with music and the messages in my music.”
You’ve dubbed your music “trailertrap.” How did you come up with that?
I grew up in the hood of Atlanta, Ga., but in the summertime I would go to Butler, GA — so I had a little bit of the trap side and a little bit of the trailer park side. I wanted to put a positive notion on the word “trailer trash,” because I never liked that word. I was just like, “Ain’t nobody no trash, so how could you say that?” So it’s trailer park meets trap; I bridged the gap. I believe in unity, so it’s one word: trailertrap.
How did “The Git Up” come about?
I had no idea I was going to write that song. My friend brought a lap steel to the studio. As I [played] the lap steel, I put in 808s with beatboxing, then added snares, played tambourine and put spoons on there. I felt like I had just created something close to [Billy Ray Cyrus’] “Achy Breaky Heart”: You couldn’t take the song serious, but then you can’t make the song a joke either, because it was a smash. It reminded me of the same joy I [felt] listening to Al Green. I was like, “This has to be a dance song.”
When I got done with the three-minute song and danced through the whole thing, I was like, ‘Man, I gotta get in shape!” This is a great workout song. I think I done dropped five pounds already. [Laughs.]
The song never actually says “The Git Up” in the lyrics. Where did the title come from?
“The Git Up” is dedicated to my grandmother telling us every morning, “Get up. Go do something productive in the world.” It’s more so about the messages [in] my music; bigger than anything [to me] is chasing your purpose in life. I feel like I’ve opened enough eyes and hearts and minds now that what I’ve always stood for is [resonating].
Do you feel like Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” opened the door for “The Git Up?”
He beat me to what I had held close to my heart for years. Originally the EP was supposed to come out May 31st, and “The Git Up” was supposed to be like a filler [track], but after “Old Town Road” the whole plan changed. I called [Broken Bow Records executive vp] Jon Loba and was like, “Now is the moment. The record’s got to come out.” I didn’t know it would be big this fast, but I did know it would bring joy.
I feel like your music is kind of the answer to the conversation that “Old Town Road” started, proving that country and hip-hop sounds can work together. Would you agree?
I feel like that is the answer. [Before “The Git Up”] when I would leave like Sam Hunt or Jason Aldean concerts, everybody in the parking lot was dancing and singing to Migos. I was like, “We’re onto something.” People just want great music with elements that they’re familiar with, and my elements are country-driven. If I take the 808s away from [my] records, there’s no denying the countryness in them.
So do you see this melding of country and hip-hop styles becoming more than just a trend?
Let’s just say with the album I put together, and the records that I have to come, it’s more than a trend. It’s a home now.