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This or That? Big Smo vs. Big Moe

Meet Big Smo. He looks like a homeless Action Bronson and he raps like a 7-11 cashier. Born in San Diego but raised in Shelbysville, Tennessee, Big Smo now has two kids and a fiancee, and his music reflects that. He raps about partying the way Barney sings about vegetables and he doesn’t drop a motherf–ing curse in a single rhyme from his new album, ‘Kuntry Livin.’ Rakim was the only one that could pull that off. Big Smo is not Rakim.

Many may know Big Smo from his brand new TV show on A&E. It’s called ‘Big Smo.’ The show so far is about 10% music and 90% country living. Here are some of the things Big Smo says on the A&E channel:

“The midnight snack is like a canvas of color and flavor. It’s like constructing this masterpiece of Smolicious burst of flavor.” 

“I don’t waste my time with nibbles.”

“I’m Big Smo. I’m the boss of the sticks. I can’t greet my fans coming out of a pink bus. I ain’t gon’ be boss of the Pixy Stix!” 

Big Smo says he makes “Hick Hop,” a loose term that incorporates Country sounds with blue collar lyrics  - ragging on his boss, celebrating overtime wages, saving money for his kids, calling his wife when he’s late coming home. He is a very nice guy. His music is Bumf–k, middle of nowhere rap — it’s rural, suburban farm music that completely divorces almost everything hip-hop came from, besides poverty. He’s barely even clever —  he’s “as country as cornbread.” He probably enjoys a nice meal at Cracker Barrel; a total of zero black people appear in the first four episodes of his TV show. He’s signed to Warner Nashville, and if you can say “Warner Nashville” without automatically doing a southern accent well,  good for you.

His music is as corny as cornbread, though (I’m here all week). If Yelawolf steered clear of drugs, settled down with a pleasant family and thus severed his personal connection to Eminem, he’d be Big Smo right now.  A million and one country clichés smother ‘Kuntry Livin’ — like barbecue sauce. He talks about bonfires, bumpy roads, backwoods, bumpkins, over and over, even repeating the same brand of whiskey twice in one song.   You can’t help but wonder who in the f—k enjoys this country-rap fusion stuff and why.

Big Moe is the s—t. The lean-sipping, note-hitting, fun-loving member of the Screwed Up Click was Nate Dogg with a double cup, pouring the glory of his voice onto his city’s skyline for the cover of ‘City Of Syrup.’ That album is a Houston classic, full of bounce (‘Get Back’), catchy hooks (‘I Wonder’), and S.U.C. (‘We Da Sh*t!’). Its cult status was only heightened by Moe’s death in 2007, suspected by many to have been caused by the same drink seen flowing from his styrofoam on the cover. He’s vulnerable, honest, caring, supportive, and totally unrestrained when he does his hybrid singraps, an innovation he helped make popular. He might not have millions of views on YouTube like Big Smo, but he’s made more of an impact on the culture than any white country rapper on TV ever will.

Despite making what sounds like NBA Live ’97 music, Big Smo seems to have carved out a decent following for himself (‘Kuntry Livin,’ which dropped June 3rd, debuted at #9 on the Billboard Country Albums charts). The show on A&E is a testament to that fanbase, though TV execs now seem to be clued in on the fact that poor white people can be a lucrative punchline, too.

But Big Moe was bigger than a TV show or a novelty fad like Hick Hop. He rolled with DJ Screw. He blessed us with melodies about waking up hungover and blowing on some hay. He was hardly a model citizen — that’s what made him so lovable. Maybe if Big Smo had a tenth of the singing talent that Big Moe showed, I’d be more sympathetic, but I doubt he does, and judging by his rapping voice, I’d rather eat glass than hear him try to prove it.

Let Big Smo navigate his lane to the fullest. He can feed lots of goats and pigs with the money he makes touring. The late, great Big Moe’s legacy is can’t be disturbed. Pour out a little Manischewitz for a fallen titan — gone but never forgotten.

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