Atlantic Records - 2002 - 74 minutes

It's impossible to review this album without mentioning Outkast, the original Southern Fried cross-pollinators of hip-hop, soul and 70s electro-funk. Certainly, there is nothing stunningly original about the sounds on 'Watermelon, Chicken & Grits' - if Nappy Roots careers' ever slide into obscurity they could handily go into business as a tribute band - The Kentucky Outkast? KastOut, maybe?

But once you get the heavy musical debts off the agenda, 'Watermelon, Chicken & Grits' is a likeable album with enough melody, attitude and talent to lift it above the dreadful Ja Rules and Nellys who are nowadays perennially camped at the summit of the hip-hop chart.

'Country Boyz' takes a Nas-style thug riff and turns it into a laidback party vibe, while 'Ballin' On A Budget's four-note bassline has a West Coast groove that's more Compton than Kentucky.

'Awnaw's soulful Hammond sample makes the album's standout track, definitely one that deserves to soundtrack what passes for a summer in this country.

So, Nappy Roots won't change your world, but if you've got a liking for Southern-style rap, or the Bay Area backpacker sound, they'll be a worthy addition to your collection.

Luke McManus

Tracklisting: Intro - Hustla - Set It Out - Country Boyz - Ballin' on a Budget - Awnaw - Headz Up - Slums - Po' Folks - Start It Over - Blowin' Trees - Sholiz - Life's a Bitch - My Ride - One Forty - Dime, Quarter, Nickel, Penny - Kentucky Mud - The Lounge - Ho Down - Headz Up