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Bubba Sparxxx: Deliverance

Country has always had more in common with hip-hop than fans of either would probably like to admit. Both genres' power and marketability come in large part from their ability to speak to the frustrations and desires of the dispossessed, giving hope and inspiration to those mired somewhere down the socioeconomic ladder. Hip-hop and country dominate the booming musical landscape of the South, too, which makes it a little puzzling that there's been so little crossover between the two. Of course, race plays a part, which makes it appropriate that Bubba Sparxxx, a white rapper with a black mentor (Timbaland) working in a predominantly black genre, should knock down the barriers with Deliverance, an album that mixes hip-hop and country with ease and grace. On the disc's best track, "Comin' Round," a deftly chosen Yonder Mountain String Band sample promenades with Timbaland's unmistakable drum programming effortlessly enough to suggest a new type of fusion. Sparxxx's superbly understated flow and incisive lyrics complete the song's alchemy, casting a sympathetic eye on a landscape littered with broken homes, absent fathers, and latchkey kids whose strongest male role models can be found in the record bins at the local Wal-Mart. On Deliverance's refreshingly mature first half, Sparxxx brings the mean streets and the hills together, recognizing the trailer park as just another 'hood where life is cheap and a haze of intoxication makes the world look a little kinder. Deliverance falters a bit following the superb single of the same name, after which the album largely abandons its soul-searching and country-rap magic in favor of less auspicious odes to Southern-fried hedonism. But Deliverance races to a spectacular finish with the kinetic "Back In The Mud," on which Organized Noize whips up a frenzy to match Sparxxx's machine-gun delivery.


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