Riddle me this, music lover: What increasingly popular genre of music takes the lamest, blandest elements from both mainstream country and bubblegum rap, soaks it in whiskey-flavored stereotypes and dashes it with an alarming bit of backwoods cultural appropriation?
If you don't know, don't bother looking it up, as your computer will almost certainly be infected with a virus. The answer is hick-hop. It's the foolish blending of country music and rap. It's not new, and yet, unfortunately, it's only getting more popular.
Though there are big names in the genre (Colt Ford, Big Smo, The LACs), California's Moonshine Bandits conveniently serve a sampler platter that makes hick-hop supremely detestable.
Here's how, if you dare.
It should only take pushing "play" on a couple of the band's inane videos for the viewer to squirm with physical and intellectual discomfort. In fairness, Dusty "Tex" Dahlgren and Brett "Bird" Brooks avoid playing Eazy-E dress-up -- unlike many of their hick-hop colleagues. But while the lyrics may attempt to promote a rural viewpoint, albeit an often sophomoric one, the music is often straight-forward hip-hop, incidental twangy flourishes notwithstanding. It doesn't take a Ph.D. in sociology to detect a wannabe rap titan in motorcycle mechanic's clothing.
Indeed, there is a method to this sort of redneck madness. It's tempting to claim that all hick-hop songs sound the same, given the generic beats and monotonous one-note vocal delivery, but just like its mainstream pop-country cousin, the genre features a limited number of templates that create the illusion of variety.
There's the alleged club-bangers ("We All Country," "Get Loose"), the Nickelback-riffic, troop-loving rocker ("Pass the Ammo," in which the lyric "Praise the lord and pass the ammo, stars, stripes and camo" is offered without irony), and the obligatory acoustic pandering disguised as down-home introspection ("My Kind of Country").
Regardless of flourishes, most hick-hop songs are elementary. Musically, the math is simple: one part synthesized fiddle, one part plucky banjo electric sample, one part rudimentary beat, one million parts cliché. Lyrically, the tunes manage to simply list off the same darn things: whiskey, guns, fishing, the troops, getting to heaven, and lest we forget, being from the country.
Saturday Night Live, take note. Pretty much any of the Moonshine Bandits' heavily-viewed videos would add high hilarity to your next run of new episodes. The celebration of every lowest common denominator southern stereotype is only comical for a second, however.
It's decadent parties on a lakeshore, detailed lowrider vehicles, red Solo cup pounding in a dirty bar, and fully-clothed men surrounded by half-naked women (near a lake, of course). The comedy contained in the videos is unintentional. It feels less funny when you see how serious these non-jokers are.
Why do we even bring this up? Moonshine Bandits perform Aug. 11 at 8 p.m. with Demun Jones and Hillbilly Orchestra at Gas Monkey Bar and Grill, 10261 Technology Blvd. E., Dallas. We're your friend-in-the-know, so we'll tell you: Tickets are $14 at ticketfly.com if you must go.