When I first heard Carolina Chocolate Drops‘ cover of Blu Cantrell’s “Hit ‘Em Up Style,” I literally gasped. I’m not gonna lie, that song was my jam back in the summer of 2001, but I’ve long since forgotten about it. Now, it’s something altogether different.
I like a cover song as much as the next girl, but I like it all the more when the song jumps genres. It’s as if I’m hearing the song for the first time, totally reinvented. And that’s exactly what the Drops have done for me, drawing on old time traditions of bluegrass, country, and folk to turn an R&B one hit wonder into a gritty, jug band sizzler.
Justin Robinson, one-third of the North Carolina trio said it well: “Tradition is a guide, not a jailer. We play in an older tradition, but we are modern musicians.” I agree. My favorite aspect of “Hit ‘Em Up Style” is the contrast of a new school vernacular and the notion of the 21st century gold digger with gruff vocals and in-your-face fiddling.
That shit’s from the soul, y’all.
Genuine Negro Jig is out on Nonesuch Records on Feburary 16, 2010.