Gangstagrass is a multi-racial group of string pickers and MCs creating a shared cultural space for dialogue and connection between folks that usually never intersect. No Time For Enemies, the group’s fifth studio album, is their most collaborative to date, breaking loose and running across genre lines with abandon. The album has quintessential Country elements and classic Hip Hop adrenaline, merged with Rock, R&B and Pop.
The album serves as a mission statement for a new era: No more time to waste. There’s subtext about freedom and struggle and breaking through the social and racial divisions between us. The album 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 global pandemic. Subtle messages about race and politics are interwoven throughout the 11 juicy songs, opening with a history-steeped consideration of “Freedom”. No Time For Enemies combines irresistible dance tracks and serious subjects in a thoughtful narrative about what America is built on, culminating in “Your Land” – a reinterpretation of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” – featuring the very gifted vocalist Branjae.
Gangstagrass collaborated with a fine artist out of Chicago, Faheem Majeed – http://www.faheemmajeed.com – who transforms materials such as particle board, scrap metal and wood, and discarded signs and billboard remnants, breathing new life into these often overlooked and devalued materials. His broader engagement with the arts also involves arts administration, curation and community facilitation, all of which feed into his larger practice. Majeed’s art and mission match well with Gangstagrass’s activism on issues such as mass incarceration, clean water, and ballot access.
Brooklyn-based producer Rench, the mastermind behind Gangstagrass, maintains that the musical landscape is a 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 it's time for it to die.”
"No Time For Enemies" is out now. Check it out here.