What Happens When a Previous Underground MC, Songwriter and Lyricist, Mixes Rhymes With Country, Bluegrass, and Americana?

Bear the Astronot Black Cowboy Hat Johnny Cash

Grand Canyon Chapter1

Grand Canyon Chapter2

Some Might Say It’s Magic

Look, it happens all the time. Some guy who writes bad poems in High School decides to hook up with his buddies Hard Rock band and change the face of music forever.  Tada! It’s Rap Rock!

Then some strung out rave kid floating high on a cloud of ecstasy decides he really needs to put some more club into the club music.  Tada! It’s everything on the radio in 2014-2015.

It doesn’t always go as bad as you think though.  For every annoying song you hear on the radio, there is probably an established scene of artists paving the way for something interesting and new.

So let’s talk about Bear the Astronot

Bear has been a musician for decades.  His aptitude for creating poetry and rhymes in school led him to become an MC at the age of 12.  Now you have to remember, he was 12 in 1992, the height of everything Hip-Hop was his testing ground. He had lots of friends in Heavy Metal and Punk bands so he started rapping with them.  You have to remember, this was a time ruled by the almighty Metallica.  No one had even heard of Linkin Park or Rage Against the Machine.  Now lets fast forward.  Now it’s the year 2000, and Bear is a professional DJ.  Here is an average Saturday night for DJ Bear at this time.  He shows up to the club at about 8pm with 100 pounds of vinyl.  He sets up and plays Old School Hip-Hop, Top 40, and Dance Music until about 1pm.  He then runs across the street to a huge club for after hours.  The capacity is close to 3,ooo and he plays Progressive House, Trance, and Techno until 4am.  He then jumps into the car after loading up all 100 pounds of vinyl and drives across town to the After After Hours spot.  A dingy strobe light and smoke machine haunted house of an adult club.  There he plays Chill and Trance until 9am.  A fairly eclectic Saturday into Sunday morning.

Soon after Bear starts attending Music School, and keeps telling all of his class mates that Dance and House mixed with Hip-Hop is the next big thing.  They all through crumpled papers at him and offer to sign him up for counseling. Bear continues in several other bands, touring around, and mixing Rock, Hip-Hop, and Dance music with the Early 90’s Hip-Hop he loves and adores. Now lets Fast Forward again.

Bear is known as an impeccable lyricist, and is respected on the underground hip-hop scene for clever stage antics, energetic performances, and eclectic sounds that all encompass powerful Alternative Hip-Hop. But he is tired.  He has done enough shows with Back Pack rappers to last a lifetime. He has always spent his time not working out in the woods hiking, hunting, and exploring.  He starts to miss a simpler life, like the one he had growing up in The Grand Canyon National Park. He decides to take a break from music. During his hiatus he drowns himself in old country records he inherited from his various Country Loving family members. He spends way more time listening to banjo laden Bluegrass songs than he does 808 laden Drake tracks.  He feels comfortable in something he knows as familiar.  The lyrics of Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, and Willie Nelson start to burn a whole in his soul.

About this time Bear has moved way back out into the sticks.  The closest venue to his property is an antique, literally historical venue called The Museum Club.  This makes him feel even more at home among the dingy pictures of Country Crooners that hang with respect on the walls. And then it happens.  Bear starts to make music again. How the hell is this going to work?

How do you mix Mos Def with Merle Haggard, and Sage Francis with Eric Church? Well, you just make music that feels good.  That is exactly what Bear the Astronot started to do.

Now Let’s Talk Country Rap

If any genre of music could give Rap music a run for it’s money when it comes to cliches it would be country.  But there we go again, forgetting that this isn’t exactly true.  Radio Rap and Radio Country are full of cliches.  Radio Rap about Making Money, Mistreating Women, and Stunting on Bitches gets old.  So does Radio Country about Trucks, Drinking, and Corn Fields. But then you have to dissect that statement.  Is a corn field really a cliche?  How much of these things are actually a part of the music because they portray a lifestyle?

Well which ever way you look at it, Bear needed to work with and around plenty of cliches to avoid being summed up in the same category as Colt Ford, Big Smo and the like. There is absolutely nothing wrong with their music!  It definitely has a huge crowd and serves a purpose.  When you look at it though Bear could never be Luke Bryan just as much as he could never be Kendrick Lamar.  His music has always, and will always sit in place that is nothing like the genres it utilizes.

The Grand Canyon Project

So the challenge is apparent.  Make music that speaks about a childhood growing up in The Grand Canyon National Park, hiking, fishing, and exploring vast uncivilized areas of the United States.  Add in the fact that Bear also lived on the Navajo Reservation multiple times with his Grand Mother, and experienced white water rafting the Colorado River about the same time he decided he wanted to be an MC.  Confusing isn’t it.  You try to reign it all together and make a rap song about it.  I dare you!

So the Grand Canyon Project began with about 5 songs written to mix country and Hip-Hop.  Bear hadn’t released any albums in years, just some mixtapes and the like, so once he started back in it was like someone opened the flood gates.  Ideas came pouring out, and soon he had about 6o songs.  Some were Hip-Hop, Some were Blues, Some were Country, Some were Bluegrass, Some something completely different.  He thought about making different albums for each, but then as he thought further he remembered Magic.

That Tada! Magic that we talked about earlier.  The stuff that pushes musical boundaries, and sets artists hearts free to roam as they please.

He thought about the Grand Canyon.  A place were the population was about 1,200 if that during the winter and then burst into Millions of People from every country on earth during the Tourist Season.  A place were Chinese and German echoed across the same canyon just as much as English.  He thought about riding rivers, and camping, and DJ’ing, and opening for 2 Live Crew and Ice Cube and Young Thug.  He thought about trees.

And then he released the first two parts of the Grand Canyon project.

Take a listen and decide if it’s Hip-Hop, or Country, or Bluegrass, or Blues, or Rock.

In the end who cares, just find some songs you like, and think about where you came from.

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