Gangstagrass is a multi-racial group of string pickers and MCs allowing for a unique opportunity to create shared cultural space for dialogue and connection between folks that usually never intersect. With “Ain’t No Crime”, the third single off their much anticipated ‘No Time For Enemies’, their most collaborative track breaks loose and runs across genre lines with abandon. The song has quintessential Country elements and classic Hip Hop adrenaline, interwoven with Rock, R&B and Pop. It’s a wild party track on its face, with a subtle subtext about liberation. “Ain’t No Crime” is released Friday, July 10th via AntiFragile Music.
The song is the most collaborative track in Gangstagrass history. R-SON brought the initial impetus to do a fast, high energy track which was the last song the band recorded together in the studio before going into lockdown with most of the new album unfinished. Reflecting on the outcome of all those unique elements, Rench states, “I love that this track keeps you guessing- is it banjos and fiddles or soul singer and organ sounds or breakbeats? And just when it has established the high intensity groove, it hits you with half a speed verse, chorus and bridge. There are stops, tempo flips, wild dynamics from whispers to shouts, sound effects, so it feels like the unpredictable party of diversity we love for our world to be!”.
Gangstagrass has always been about breaking through the social and racial divisions between us. The album “No Time For Enemies” was primarily recorded during Covid-19. The death of George Floyd and the race-related protests added to the immediacy of their message and their desire to finish despite the challenges of recording during a pandemic.
In fact, Rench maintains, music is a perfect reflection of our segregation and Gangstagrass is providing an antidote to our racialized conception of genre. “Many people don’t know that the banjo was originally an African instrument that travelled here with slavery. Early America found slaves and poor whites combining African and European instruments and styles across the south. The dawn of the recorded music industry happened during Jim Crow segregation, so music was marketed with completely artificial racial categories of ‘race music’ and ‘hillbilly music’ - which have been imprinted on our minds decades later as black soul music and white Country music. This is a fabrication of the industry and its time for it to die.”
FX Network asked Gangstagrass to write a song for their new Western crime series, Justified. The result was the Emmy nominated “Long Hard Times To Come,” the song that opens every episode of the series. Since then, the band has made four studio albums and a live album. “At this point there can be no sense that this is superficial, or a novelty” Rench says. “This is real, we are authentic, and we are producing a new formulation of American music that returns us to real connection. We are here to show that illusion of white and black music is a relic of the 20th century, and the 21st century starts with partying together. From there, learn to take care of each other and repair the damage our prejudice has done.”