January 13, 2014


This Ain't Your Daddy's Country

Taylor Hill/FilmMagic
Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

Chuck Adams used to go by the name "Range." And having made the switch from R&B to country, he's shown just how appropriate that nickname really is. In 2008, Range started his career as a songwriter. 

He told Fuse News, "I was going to labels and they were saying we have so-and-so, we have Trey Songz, we have Chris Brown, we have whoever else, so I just had to follow Ne-Yo's [path, that you have to] write your way in as an artist, so that's what I did."

Writing for artists like Ludacris, T-Pain, Lil Kim, and Ray J led to an artist deal with Jay Z's Roc Nation. 

Range even did a song with Rick Ross, but he discovered that life in hip-hop simply wasn't for him. "I was up 'til 6am, you know, clubs, the women, the lifestyle, the bottles, spending $2,500 in the club on bottles. Just bad decisions."

In 2011, Adams says his new label dropped him. 

"Leaving Roc Nation wasn't a choice. I see now it was obviously the best of things because of the man I am, but I woke up... and I didn't have a deal. I found out via Twitter." 

Despite the shock, Adams realized that he hadn't been expressing himself. "I don't think I was really an artist back on Roc Nation. I kind of just thought I was, or I kind of wanted maybe the glitz of it, but I didn't really stand for anything."

Adams then picked up a guitar and made a drastic move; he crossed over into country music.

"Country magnifies a lifestyle that I agree with," Adams says. "I think country writers are amazing writers and amazing storytellers. All very talented in a lot of ways, from guitar to vocally, I like the talent in there."

With 42% of Americans—98 million people—calling themselves country fans, many artists see the appeal of the genre. 

Billboard's Joe Levy explains, saying, "For certain kinds of artists, country music is where you go when you want to have a life and a career and that could mean you are established already, and you see more longevity in the country world."

R. Kelly told Fuse News that even he has a country project in the works, saying, "I've always loved country music because of the stories. When I was younger no one expected me to like country music, but I listened to country music and I still do today. I'm actually working on country album right now, six songs deep into it."

Foo Fighter Dave Grohl has also tipped his drums towards country music, working with The Zac Brown Band on The Grohl Sessions Vol. 1, released in December 2013. 

He told us, "I swear to God if I weren't in my band I'd be in this f-cking band. I swear, I'm not kidding. I would be in this band in a f-cking heartbeat."

"You could be Darius Rucker from Hootie and the Blowfish who had one of the biggest hits on country radio," says Levy. "You can be Aaron Lewis from Staind, a big scary heavy metal dude with a shaved head who wants to wear a cowboy hat." 

MORE: 20 Dudes Killing It in Country Music Right Now

Rapper Nelly is also a fan of the genre; he even named his first album Country Grammar. He collaborated with Tim McGraw on "Over and Over" in 2004 and more recently, he did a hit crossover remix of Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise." 

Of his country cousins, Nelly tells Fuse, "Tim McGraw, that' my homie. You look at someone like Florida Georgia Line, boys coming in also with a love for all music."

According to Nelly, the genres aren't all that different. "Country music and R&B music is the same music. Different rhythms and different instrument. Same stories. It's all about the stories, feel, vibe. if you look at the songs that crossed over to country, they're probably also R&B songs or pop songs."

As for Adams, he's trying to break into country with his latest single, "Shotgun," (above) and he's looking forward to a long career in the genre. "I just know how much more I have to learn and even vocally it's not a bunch of things chiming around over a beat anymore. I can't hide under that. I mean, I have always been a singer, I love to sing."