Hip Hop, Hurray! ...No Samples

Villebillies (Scarecrow Records)
The Villebillies

By David Lilly

What image does the name, Villebillies, bring to mind? Urban and rural folks switching places to see how the other half live? How about helpings from a musical buffet of hip-hop, rock, blues, country and - gulp - even bluegrass, all on the same plate? That's pretty much what you get on this disc, with an emphasis on hip-hop. That provokes another question. What separates hip-hop from rap? Not a "city limits" sign, I hope. Most of this music isn't my cup of tea, but the view from outside my cup isn't that bad.

Anyway ...

The Villebillies, six guys from Louisville (including Demi Demaree, lead vocalist of Plan of Man), have a good idea: mixing various genres into their hip-hop foundation. Sometimes it works and sometimes it sounds generic. Beginning with a bouncy pop tune and a hint of country, "Fo Shern" adds lyrical hip-hop and all three merge into a pretty cool blend. A spot of potential controversy exists in the form of "Steve Miller," which uses the melody from "The Joker" with a combination of Steve Miller's lyrics and Villebillies' lyrics. Might raise some eyebrows, but it's fun. Other catchy tunes include "Whiskey River," "Somethin' in the Water," "Aftershow," "Fast Lane, " "Rock Steady Lady," "Follow Me" and "Don't Waste Your Time."

Gratuitous profanities aside, these guys sound to be proud of where they're from.

Since hip-hop is such a prevalent sound coming from cars sitting in traffic, there's obviously a big audience for it. The Villbillies offer what they consider a distinctive version, so I recommend this disc to any fans of the genre. Check 'em out at www.villebillies.com