What if all the country dudes singing about spring break, pickup trucks, and cheap beer fully embraced hip hop, and not just its swagger? On King of Clubs, out today, Cowboy Troy—the 43-year-old African-American singer-rapper born Troy Lee Coleman III—answers that question like a man shouting from the saddle of a bucking bronco.
It’s not his first time at the rodeo: Troy, a member of the MuzikMafia crew that includes modern-era rebels like Big & Rich and Gretchen Wilson, has released four other audacious “hick-hop” albums since 2002. He never had a hit like Big & Rich’s “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),” the 2004 country-rap classic, and maybe never will. “Drink Drank Drunk,” the first single off King of Clubs, features B&R and a white rapper named Big Smo (aren’t there any “lil” MCs in country?), but it never took off with the “mothertruckers” and “Southern belles” it urges to jump around. (It’s gotten less than 6,000 plays on Spotify since last fall.)
But that’s just the first track on this album, which peels off in search of good times and never looks back. “Giddy Up” reworks the Rawhide opening theme with exhortations to do-si-do and “break it down low,” while, similarly, “Rope It Off” proposes a line dance that calls for twerking. And when it comes time to talk vehicles, nobody’s weeping over their pickup: Troy revisits an unstoppable woman in the “hick-hop version” of John Rich’s “Mack Truck.”
It’s all deliriously infectious, from the jumbo fiddle and guitar riffs to the chanted choruses to the booty-bedeviled rap verses, the likes of which you have not heard since the days of Sir Mix-a-Lot. In a world where Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line dominate the playlists at frat parties and nudie bars—and more potent artists like Eric Church and Miley Cyrus borrow genre-specific sounds with great bravado—plenty of folks should be calling Cowboy Troy daddy.