Bluegrass and Hip-Hop may sound like an odd combination, but don’t tell that to Producer Rench, who birthed the fusion in 2006, with Gangstagrass. “There are a lot more people out there with Jay-Z and Johnny Cash on their iPod playlists than you think.” says Rench, who had previously made a name for himself as an in-demand Brooklyn country and hip-hop producer and singer/songwriter. He should know – he’s toured the country with a band of bluegrass pickers and hip-hop emcees to the delight of standing room crowds everywhere.
making beats for local NYC rappers and hosting country music nights in popular NYC venues. In 2007, Rench had a musical itch that needed to be scratched – he was listening to the 1970s recordings of Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys and couldn’t help imagining what classic bluegrass would sound like with rap vocals and beats. The result was a genre-demolishing blitz called Rench Presents: Gangstagrass. He put it up for free download and people took notice. Hundreds of thousands of downloads followed creating an intense underground buzz.
When FX Network came to Rench looking for the Gangstagrass sound for the theme song to their new series Justified, he had bluegrass players lay down an original track with rapper T.O.N.E-z, the younger brother of early hip-hop legends Special K and T-LaRoc. The result was “Long Hard Times To Come,” the song that opened every episode of six seasons of the hit series. “Long Hard Times To Come” was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2010, contending for best theme song after critical praise and massive fan response
Gangstagrass has toured internationally, blowing minds on main stages from SXSW to Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, with a live stage act taking full advantage of the improvisational aspects of both hip-hop and bluegrass. With two emcees R-Son and Dolio The Sleuth trading verses, Dan Whitener on Banjo, Landry McMeans on dobro, and Rench on guitar, and frequent 3 part harmonies, the Gangstagrass live show has garnered a reputation among fans for its dynamism and spontaneity. Currently touring across the US, Gangstagrass is using live performances to organically develop new material for an album that will further explode the boundaries between genres generally thought to be incompatible.