Track Review: Country Boy- The Essence




Country Boy



The Essence




The Essence is available at:

RELEASED: September, 2015

GENRES: Hip-Hop; Rap


Houston, U.S.A.

The album Soul Full is available at:


Love of Music

Refuse 2 Lose

The Essence


SoulFull Skit

Love Is… (feat. Kali)

Off Safety

Cuz I Gotta (feat. A-da-Rican)

Outta Here

Brighter Days


THIS marks something of a rarity for me…

In terms of reviewing.  Having just completed an assessment of an L.A.-based Folk/Americana band (Boroughs) I am faced with the exact opposite.  Located miles away- in terms of geography, genre and personality- I am with an artist that is among the most interesting I have faced.  Before I get to Country Boy his personality/plight brings up some interesting points regarding Hip-Hop/Rap, Texan music and prolificacy in the music industry.  Rap and Hip-Hop are those genres that have taken me a while to appreciate.  In terms of modern material there are some great artists coming through the underground.  My favourite time for Urban/Rap sounds was around 2002/2003.  In the U.K. we had extraordinary artists like The Streets and Dizzee Rascal explode onto the scene.  The Streets’ debut Original Pirate Material was a surveyance of the British streets and the realities of modern-day life.  That reality of growing up in the Midlands was exposed through running commentaries, pontifications and slice-of-life wit and humour.  The dazzling array of music and lyrical ideas took critics’ breaths back in 2002.  The Streets would follow that with A Grand Don’t Come For Free a couple of years later- an album that perhaps surpasses that immense debut.  In the middle of those two albums came Dizzee Rascal: Boy in da Corner was 2003’s most accomplished moment from the Bow-born rapper.  The then-teenager created an album with staggering rhymes and incredible compositions inventiveness.  From wacky show-tune additions- Jus’ a Rascal to pummeling percussion on Fix Up, Look Sharp; the consistency and quality was staggering. While both The Streets and Dizzee created phenomenal sophomore albums; both would see diminishing returns as their careers ticked- abandoning their authenticity and losing their initial appeal and conviction.  That is the trouble with Rap/Hip-Hop artists: they come from the poverty and hardships of the streets; their music is at its peak when authentic and truly convincing.  When you become popular- and pull in advertising deals- you become less street and more, well… neat.  If you are a rich and successful musician, how can you still convey messages of street ills and struggles with conviction?  That is perhaps the issue Dizzee and The Streets faced when they launched their debut.  A lot of U.K. rappers expound the horrors of the street and the struggles of their generation face.  If you keep your messages tight and open- with enough mobility as not to suffer the authenticity trap- then you can have a couple of great years ahead (perhaps many).  The trouble with a lot of U.K. Rap/Hip-Hop is it lacks that dazzles, hypnotic grasp and durability- few of the upcoming artists match the unbelievable heights laid down by Dizzee Rascal and The Streets.  The U.S. is favouring a lot better in that sense.  Perhaps it is a genre with better talent and more players; or perhaps it is the harsh reality of the U.S.  In the U.K. there is more gentrification and less poverty than a decade ago- a lot of London’s rougher areas are being transformed and bettered- whereas the motifs and ideals of Hip-Hop’s best has changed.  A lot of artists here are becoming less politicised and Urban-influenced- tending to put their focus towards areas of love and break-ups; the sounds are becoming more mainstream and less edgy.  Perhaps that is the view of an outsider- a white boy from the Home Counties who prefers Rock/Alternative sounds- but I am seeing few genuinely amazing Rap/Hip-Hop artists emerge.   Another issue is the lack of mainstream exposure the music gets- aside from a few radio stations- and the attention the media provides.  The U.S. is seeing more gun violence, social breakdown and criminality- not to mention barking bat-s*** crazy lunatics like Donald Trump open their toxic-sewer mouths- and easily inspire music’s angry and motivated youth.  With their being a lot of social and urban decay- areas like Detroit are becoming more hostile and broken than their glory days- there is plenty to compel the young rappers and M.C.s.  Country Boy is one of the U.S.’s slickest M.C.s: a young man with huge ammunition and a breath-taking consistency and work-rate.  Before I raise a couple of new points; let’s meet the star of the show:

Innovative, explosive, seasoned, are all great adjectives that describes this talented young artist. Country Boy is the true definition of an artist just waiting for his moment to seize greatness. He is not only a great MC and song writer; Country Boy is also an extraordinary producer, and graphic/visual arts perfectionist. Besides being an emerging talent, Country is truly a caring, down to earth person fueled with passion and love. Innovative, explosive, seasoned, are all great adjectives that describe this talented young artist. Country Boy is the true definition of an artist just waiting for his moment to seize greatness. He is not only a great MC and song writer; Country Boy is also an extraordinary producer, and graphic/visual arts perfectionist. Besides being an emerging talent, Country is truly a caring, down to earth person fueled with passion and love. 

Country Boy’s journey began on July 17, 1987 in Alexandria, LA. After moving to Texas at a young age in grade school he began to learn to play various instruments in the school band and became a natural musician. Later during his years in high school, Country Boy decided that music was his calling and his path that he wanted to pursue for his career. Anxious to find his place in the music industry, Country began working, releasing several indie projects on his own even a mixtape with DJ Scream and DJ MLK in 2011 called, Not Your Average Mixtape. CB also began to gain a lot of local attention in Houston through his hyped performances at various venues and open mic showcases.

Later, Country Boy landed his first record deal in 2012. Shortly after he released his first solo album “No More Games” in the Fall of 2013 which generated Country Boy a great amount of attention underground and within the music community even landing him shows opening for such acts as Rich Homie Quan, Webbie, & more. This is also when Country Boy’s media company Fire Images started taking off. His art and graphic works landed him on the front page of many popular music websites/blogs, including the front page of music mogul Birdman or Baby of Cash Money Records website

Country Boy's artworks also included work with YMCMB, We The Best artists, Wiz Khalifa and 100s of indie artists.

Recently, Country Boy released his highly anticipated independent mixtape, Back to the Basix that included great singles such as “No Love No Loyalty” which gained him national radio airplay. “My Old Ways”, which the video landed him his own Vevo Channel, and also features with industry majors such as French Montana and even the Legendary Blues Singer, Sunny Blue Bland, son to the late great blues singer, Bobby Blue Bland. Soon to follow, on a mission for greatness, Country Boy then released his project The Flood, in April of 2015. The Flood is the project that really made a mark for Country Boy in the game, gaining him many placement opportunities, greater radio spins, many blog & media platform’s attention and grew his fan base tremendously with over 250k streams within the first 2 weeks of release. 

Country Boy has truly developed into an emerging artist and a great spirit that is on the path for super stardom. He has overcome much adversity and many obstacles in life from such an early age. Keep your eyes and ears open for Country Boy as he continues to spread his works and the Country Boy brand. Soul Full is his next installment to his legacy set to release on August 31, 2015 in which he sets out to again shock the music community bringing back a deeply rooted, soulful, hip hop sound and share his story further with the fans.

Country Boy is a God-fearing man with a love of music and a passion for what he does.  Like the freshest and most durable Rap/Hip-Hop artists, the young Texan has emerged and struggled against childhood struggles and the violent realities of the street.  Country Boy has not just taken this anger and obstacle-dodging into something almost religious in its power.  Texas gets overlooked when it comes to U.S. music and the emerging scene.  L.A. and New York are the cities/areas that are still in deep focus- few reviewers go beyond those territories.  Perhaps it is unsurprising these localities get the biggest focus: they are busy and bustling cities; housing some of music’s best acts.  When it comes to Texas there are some fantastic acts coming through.  The likes of Fat Tony, Mystery Skulls, Max Frost; The Tontons, The Wild Moccasins and Wild Child are acts that have captured attention this year- and names to keep an eye out in 2016.  Austin, Dallas and Houston are perhaps the busiest of the Texan areas.  As our hero is based out of Houston- having spent the first years of his life in L.A. - it is not a shock he fits in with some of his contemporaries.  Whereas as like-minded peers Fat Tony- a Nigerian-born rapper with furious rhymes and Kool A.D.-approved songs on board- you have a tantilsing and exciting Urban underground emerging from Texas.  Country Boy is one of music’s best, not just because of the style of music he plays- he is more inventive, direct and fast-flowing than most of music’s best- but the prolificacy he boasts.  Whereas a lot of his peers- who play in the Rap/Hip-Hop fields- are young black men out of the ghettos; Country Boy’s life and rise has been no less hard and authentic.  Most artists would take time to relax and acclimatise to a more tranquil/idealistic life: Country Boy has turned his pain into a dazzling string of songs, mixtapes and albums.  Having been on the scene a few years, it is breath-taking to see how much material the young Texan has produced.  His latest album is a ten-track tight collection called Soul Full.  It is real music with real stories; from a young man who wants to bring the verve, grit and reality back into Hip-Hop.  That album has been met with a fevered and celebratory critical wave.  Fans and followers have been keen to pay tribute to the incredible flows, raps and vocals from an artist with immense potential.  Knowing how prodigious Country Boy is, it would not be a surprise to see another album in-the-works.  Make sure you check out Soul Full and all the past work from Texas’ brightest stars.

Back to Basik and The Flood are too of the most relevant recent-works from Country Boy.  The title track from Back to Basik is a swaggering and cool-as-f*** testament from a young M.C. laying down the beats.  Looking at fools and players- trying to mess with his verbiage and rhymes- you get a barked backing chorus and a funky electric backing.  Teasing and testing beats back a vocal plight that sees the artist laid down one of his most angered and insistent tracks.  Boastful yet not arrogant- plenty of braggadocio is in there- you get a stunning track.  No Love No Loyalty starts with classic strings and an orchestral swoon.  Soon that mood explodes and you get a rambling and fast-flowing missive from that spiked voice.  Unless you flash cash and show the bling there is no love and respect- those genuine and humble people get overlooked.  One of the standout cuts from Back to Basik; it is a terrifically firm and passionate slice.  The 17-track album does not suffer bloating or unwise economy.  Every track has a rightful place and tells a side to the story.  There is so much inventiveness and nuance that you would actually like another track or two!

The Flood arrived earlier this year and saw that confident and slickness up its game.  The Dough-featuring track Crickets looks at champagne toasts on speedboats and a mesmeric array of images, characters and scenarios.  With the rhymes and rhythms tighter and more focused, the album is more honed and considered than before.  The 10-track collection still boasts a lot of emotional range; everything seems more confident and urgent than before.  All I Know is one of Country Boy’s most honest and authoritative tracks.  The subject of All I Know is money and what it can do; our hero has no other life or way and the coolness that comes with it.  From bank workers to his crew; our man gains huge respect flashing the wads of notes.  Those flash jewels and expensive goods are gaining him huge street cred.  Always Talkin is one of the most direct and unforgettable tracks from the album.  Hard-hitting and rushing, it is a slamming and cutting jam.   There are too many clowns talking (and saying nothing) that is causing anger in our hero.  The contemporaries and peers are talking crap and not worth the words they spit.  Our boy does not need friends or false allies; he has his cash and confidence that will see him through.

Although a lot of Rap/Hip-Hop emanates from struggles of the streets and urban decay; a lot of Country Boy’s modern material switches ideals and looks at wealth and the idiocy that is seen in the modern age.  Whilst not as deprived and affected as a lot of rappers, Country Boy has struggled and faces constant issues.  Whether it is validation or credibility concerns; these are exorcised and expounded throughout his work.  From the early days- across to his latest albums- there is that consistency and fascination.  The Flood was an album that was met with acclaim and impressive reviews.  More urgent, tight and nuanced than his earliest works; it signaled a quality rise and a fresh passion for the material.  If anything Soul Full (his latest album) is even more electrifying and quality-filled than previous efforts.  Growing in stature and force with every release; here is an artist that gets stronger and more determined every time he enters the studio.  A lot of similar and honed themes are worked- including rivalries and hollow endeavours; idiot contemporaries and boasting- but a new lease and lick of paint has been provided.  Every year sees the young man experience new people and places.  It will be staggering to see just what is coming in 2016 from Country Boy.

With Soul Full garnering some huge love and support; it was apt that I started falling for the magic the album provides.  The Essence is the track that best defines the album: a typically assured and confident pitch from one of the sharpest and most merit-worthy rappers coming through the ranks.  With Chris Prythm on production details- he gets a shot-out up-front- the industrial beats and lurking danger beckons the song in.  The confidence and assured declarations are all ready and primed.  Our hero claims he is the essence: this “lone star from Texas” is a man you do not want to mess with at all.  Whether he has faced some competition or doubters and has been forced to issue a retort and a stunning mission statement.  Riding that sweet-leaf undertone and the skeletal beat; our hero rides the wave with alacrity and menace.  He spits his lines with a directness and passion that cannot be understated or ignored.  The “substance” and “the core”; Houston’s fabled son is putting up his guard and ensuring nobody dents his charge.  Maybe some of his peers and friends have doubted him; perhaps the music world has not promoted him as heavily as it should- this is a bold and brash track.  The composition and background is no minor thing and shadow.  The sound effects, notes and beats propel the vocal and add to that pummel and restless energy.  In addition to relentless beats and a delirious swagger you get a blend of bell sounds and backing vocals- added together it creates a huge weight and an intoxicating, variegating scent.  Our boy states how he is the “K.O. blow” and the energy that makes the ground move.  These bragging rights have been earned it seems- given the quality of material that has come before- and there is little subtlety and modesty with regards the lyrics.  Laying out his messages to the music world; few can ignore how pressing and immediate the flows are.  Not the molecules that make up pollution; our hero is the essence of music and the reason behind its passion and success.  Having come from some harder climbs and some tough years; now Country Boy exerts some power and influence- he is making sure the world understands his confident and intentions.

The essence of the streets- and everything it encompasses- that firm and unchanging vocal (there are few dips and changes of pace) create an anxiety.  Not letting his voice emote or change means it is easy to understand the lyrics and what is being said.  Perhaps some mobility and variation would have assisted the track in the early stages; that said, the conscience and quality of the vocal/lyrics make up for any dynamic downfalls.  The street beats of present are replaced with Jazz-tinged horns and bold brass.  Replacing the tension and heaviness of before we have something more celebratory and magisterial.  Our hero is riding that regal swagger with a set of lyrics that takes us through the city streets- and down every alleyway.  The “graffiti on the wall” and the movement that runs through the concrete; Country Boy owns his town and has ruler-ship over everyone.  Rap and Hip-Hop are defined by confidence and commitment.  The Essence is a song that is always scintillatingly bold and boastful without coming across as arrogant and off-putting.  The Texan has a way with words and his delineations and projections put every thought and insight fully into the mind.  The slave, king and “one-man dream team” is swinging the pavement and flashing his bling in every surface he can find.  Ensuring nobody is any doubt and questions his credentials; there is little room for sonic intervention and compositional punctuation.  Those messages and raps come thick and fast; cascading and bouncing over that intoxicating Hip-Hop beat.  The essence that is the “bullet in the gun” is pistol-whipping his declarations to the world.  What the music world has been waiting for; it is near-impossible to ignore that seductive and pressing vocal.  The heat in the flame and beat of the drum; those lyrics and images never seem to tire or lack any inspiration.  Taking pretty much every object, emotion and location he can think of- to ascribe just how important and vital he is- our hero seems untamed and free to roam.  Chris Prythm’s production allows clarity and polish but retains that urban grit and sparseness.  It is the compositional elements that fascinate and propel the song forward.  From the early beats through to the mid-way horns; we return to more heavy beats and that initial urgency.  Whenever you stand tall and look across the horizon; our hero is the one you will see- that unavoidable and unmistakable essence.  One of the most addictive, memorable and accessible tracks from Country Boy, it retains his quality and sound whilst introducing new themes and elements.  In terms of the vocal, it is one of the most straight-forward, focused and simple he has produced.  Were there too much flash, range and force and the messages and core theme would be distilled and overlooked.  By keeping his voice firm and static; it is the most economical way of ensuring the lyrics hit the mark.  As the composition and pace starts to change- the beats become less intense whilst the vocal comes more to the forefront- our man claims he is the blood and sweat; the danger that lurks behind bars- wherever you go you will not be able to avoid him.  The energy, flow and component that runs through every facet of life; here is a young man not shy about his abilities and future.  The final moments see the composition come into its own a little more.  Remaining energised and spirited- but not too foreboding and intense- there are piano notes and something more soothed; it blends supremely with the clattering and gut-check beats.  Our man has one final round of punches before the song comes to an end.  Wherever you go and however much you run; he is the force that cannot be ignored.

Working with Chris Prythm and you have a song that ranks among the best Country Boy has produced.  The Essence is one of the most addictive and impressive cuts from recent-years Country Boy.  The jewel and standout from Soul Full; you have a track that is insatiable and confident to the maximum.  Lacing the song with so many standout lines and thoughts; you need a few spins to really get down to the nub of the song.  So many ideas, sights and situations are explored that it is a dizzying and vibrant track- one that will gain the Texan a lot of new fans.  Being a fresh face to Country Boy, I was excited to see what The Essence could offer.  The beats and percussion create a necessary energy, threat and punch.  The variation of sounds- from brass to piano- create necessary emotional balance and sonic boast.  When the lyrics are at their most assured and confident, the composition is appropriately uplifted.  When there is more spit and attack, the composition is a noble accessory- matching the foreground with aplomb.  That fantastic production backs a vocal which is rife with passion and urgency.  Having had to shrug off some struggles, doubts and anxieties; The Essence is that retaliation that cannot be overlooked.  Make sure you check out this incredible song and another bold step from one of music’s very best young artists.

It has been a huge pleasure digging into the annals of Houston’s Country Boy.  The stunning M.C. has had a glittering and assured past- his music is some of the most consistent I have heard- and seems to get better and more assured by the month.  Soul Full is an album that is brimming with truth and street-life parables.  Although Country Boy has a few dollars in the bank- and a few friends in a loyal circle- that does not mean he has lost his identity and authority.  As I explained early, the likes of Dizzee Rascal and The Streets produced some amazing and stunning debuts (and sophomore cuts).  Those albums came from young men living tough lives.  The juiced-up girls and roughed-up guys threatened hostility and danger; the uncertain night-time avenues hosted mugger and hooded gangs.  Having grown up in that sort of environment fueled them to make the albums that would become some of music’s finest.  With success and money came a slight drop and that lack of authenticity.  Whilst Dizzee incorporated more throw-away songs and needless hate into his songs- forgetting his wit and intelligence made him what he was- his stock has dropped.  With The Streets retired to the country, this country has produced fewer startling Rap/Hip-Hop Gods/Goddesses.  The U.S. has been pretty busy when it comes to that side of things.  Whether it is the stunning flairs of Lizzo or the consistency of Drake, you have plenty out there.  Legends such as The Notorious B.I.G., Dr. Dre; Lil Wayne, Eminem and Jay Z has inspired a whole new generation of angry and passionate rappers.  Country Boy may be young and starting out but make no mistake: he is going to be a name to watch in the future; capable of standing alongside the best Hip-Hop/Rap stars that have come before.  Soul Full is a seductive, intense and contradictory album that boasts so much free-flow wit and insight; intelligence and keen observation- a daring compositional innovative and command of the material.  In a scene that is defined by a lot of black artists from socially-deprived background; Country Boy does not seem out of place or an intruder.  He has the same authority and talent as anyone out there and has faced the same sort of turbulence and urban distress too.  Texas may not seem like the most obvious location for terrific Hip-Hop music- Jay Z was born in Brooklyn; Eminem in Missouri; The Notorious B.I.G. in L.A.- it is a fascinating thing.  I know Country Boy began in L.A. but his current missives are hot from the streets of Austin.  Texas is a state that should be closer in the minds of reviewers and music lovers.  There is so much variety and quality coming out: from terrific Indie bands to sunshine themes there is a wealth of stunning material to be found.  After discovering Country Boy is has compelled me to dig more into Hip-Hop/Rap and discover what else the Lone Star State has at their disposal.  Too many musicians seem limited in their lifespan and potential.  As soon as I see a new act come through, I always wonder how long they will last.  Whether it is due to their sounds- too limited and predictable- or the passion they put in; it is always difficult discovering someone that will endure for years.  Country Boy has a big future ahead and is one of the most immediate and transfixing artists in all of music.  The Essence was a track I couldn’t wait to investigate as it sums up our man (in essence) and is a confident slice from a musician that never seems to stop working.  A restless, multi-talented and agile songwriter; the signs are promising when it comes to 2016.  New music not only allows you to discover a new artists or genre; it can open the door to new towns and localities- which in turn brings other bands to your attention.   If you want to find something that takes you somewhere special; transports your mind into a dizzying world of uncertainties and possibilities- then you need to discover this rare talent.  Country Boy may be Texas-based now, but that will not last.  The young maestro is…

BOUND for the big city.


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