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300-pound ‘country rapper’ on why he’s more authentic than Taylor Swift

By Staff | Jul 28, 2010

“Country rapper” Colt Ford may have a point when he gets defensive about people’s suggestion that his music is not “real country.”

After all, his vocal delivery has more in common with spoken word than, say, DMX. The backing music is devoid of beats and samples, instead relying on a full band steeped in country’s roots and sounds. And the lyrics on 2008’s “Ride Through the Country,” and this year’s “Chicken and Biscuits,” focus more on muddy Fords with gun racks, God, cold beer and wanderin’ women.

But still. Can you blame people for wondering how a 300-pound “country rapper” is authentically country? Could there be two musical genres more diametrically opposed to each other than country and rap?

“I don’t like that term ‘country rap,'” Ford explains during a recent phone interview just ahead of his July 31 appearance at Huntington’s Harris Riverfront Park, “because it makes people think it’s hokey or goofy. I just consider myself a country artist.”

Ford rightly points out that spoken word has been done before in country music — from Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue,” and “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” to, more recently, Toby Keith’s “I Want to Talk About Me.”

“It’s been around for a while, there just hasn’t been any 300-pound boys with cowboy hats doing it, I guess,” he said.

Fair enough. But if there’s a secret to how Ford, born Jason Farris Brown, went from a professional golf career to writing the theme song for Professional Bull Riders, teaming up with John Michael Montgomery and Montgomery Gentry, in addition to charting three songs on the Hot Country Songs charts, it might be a mix of that self-deprecation, his energetic live shows and, ironically enough, country music fan’s dissatisfaction with mainstream country music.

“For the most part,” Ford said, “when people see it live they kind of figure it out. Are there some people that don’t like it? Sure, but there are some people that say Taylor Swift is ruining country, too.”

“The only thing that bothers me is when people say it’s not country because it definitely is country and it’s more country than a lot of the stuff that’s coming out of Nashville. What I’ve found is that those fans are more my fans than the pop-country fans, to be honest.”

Not that Ford’s knocking artists like Taylor Swift or Love and Theft. He believes there’s room in country music for all these artists. He just feels his fans have more in common with his music, which is reflective of the music he grew up listening to from artists like Merle Haggard and George Jones.

“My shows are the more hardcore country people, the real country folks, the blue collar working man,” he said. “That’s who I relate to, that’s who I am and that’s what I’m talking about.”

The proliferation of online music sharing helps as well. Ford realizes it’s not going away and he’s been among the leaders in country music in terms of sharing his songs online.

“The bottom line is it’s not going away,” he said. “People are going to download. But it’s helped me because (fans) don’t need radio to tell them what’s the number one song anymore. They can find it without (radio).”

So far, they most certainly have.