The intensely innovative urban twang of Gangstagrass blends Bluegrass and Hip-Hop in “a much-needed take on traditional Roots music that, given its context, felt more than a little radical.” (Rolling Stone Magazine). The group first formed in 2006, has recorded 7 albums to date and is perhaps best known as the Emmy-nominated makers of “Long Hard Times to Come,” the theme song to the hit FX drama, Justified.
Blending Bluegrass and Hip‐Hop may seem like an unlikely recipe for success, but don’t tell that to Rench, the mastermind behind the Emmy-nominated outfit Gangstagrass.
Gangstagrass initially formed in 2006 and started to see its music reaching a wider audience when the band’s song “Long Hard Times to Come,” was selected to be the opening theme song of the acclaimed television show Justified on FX in early 2010. Over the years, the group has recorded six studio albums plus a live album that was released in 2019 titled Pocket Full Of Fire: Gangstagrass Live.
Back when Rench was in grade school, recess was a time for breakdancing on cardboard to RUN‐DMC. But at home, his parents were playing Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash records on the stereo. That musical mash up made a lasting impression on Rench, which he finally put to good use after spirited him on a journey to play Country‐flavored Hip-Hop at venues all over the globe.
After settling in Brooklyn, Rench started recording MCs at Rench Audio Studios, his home studio. The rappers may have thought their sessions were finished, but Rench continued to experiment, combining the vocal tracks with samples of Bluegrass, Blues, and electronic beats. The result was a genre‐demolishing blitz called Rench Presents: Gangstagrass. When it became available as a free download on the internet, people took notice fast.
It started with a positive mention on the influential blog BoingBoing.net. The acclaim earned Gangstagrass hundreds of thousands of downloads and an intense underground buzz was created. But that wasn’t the end of it.
The executives at FX Network also liked what they heard and licensed a Gangstagrass track for use on a commercial for their new Western crime series, Justified, starring Timothy Olyphant. Eventually, they asked Rench to create an original theme song for the show, so Rench brought in Bluegrass session players to lay down an original track for rapper T.O.N.E‐z, the younger brother of early Hip-Hop legends Special K and T‐LaRoc.
The resulting track was “Long Hard Times To Come” and it has opened every episode of the TV series since it premiered in March 2010. Justified became an instant hit and “Long Hard Times To Come” earned Gangstagrass an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music. FX also licensed “Give It Up,” another Gangstagrass track with T.O.N.E-z, to promote the second season of the show.
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