Gangstagrass Explains The Message Behind “Freedom,” Premieres Video

During these turbulent times, bluegrass/hip-hop band Gangstagrass seem perfectly positioned to guide listeners into a more tolerant and open-minded world. The quintet is both racially and musically mixed, with melodic banjo and fiddle riffs blending with booming beats and astute rap lyrics. Their latest single, “Freedom,” will be released on Juneteenth (June 19), with the video premiering here at American Songwriter on June 18.

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“Freedom” is the second single from the band’s upcoming fifth studio album, No Time for Enemies, which will be released on August 14. According R-Son The Voice of Reason (one of two Gangstagrass MCs), this single has been rather unexpected: “This wasn’t even supposed to happen now. We weren’t thinking about dropping this single. But the world decided otherwise. The timing of it was perfect and terrible all at the same time but we wanted to make sure that our fans of all types and all stripes knew where we stood.”

Dolio the Sleuth (the other MC) says they ended up choosing this Juneteenth release date because it is “a day when millions of Americans of African descent commemorate freedom from shackles of enslavement in the United States, on the anniversary of June 19, 1865, when Union general Gordon Granger read federal orders in Galveston, Texas. Now is the time not only to celebrate freedom, but to protect it, and to ensure its proliferation and preservation.”

This type of awareness and advocacy have been notable Gangstagrass traits ever since the band formed in 2006. With several studio albums and one live album, they’ve gained increasing success, making buzzworthy appearances at SXSW and AmericanaFest. Their 2019 live album, Pocket Full of Fire: Gangstagrass Live, was on the Billboard bluegrass chart for almost 4 months, peaking at number two.

As far as what inspired the band to write the high-energy song, Dolio The Sleuth says: “We thought up collectively that it should follow a timeline through the struggle from the point of view of a prophet / freedom fighter / activist that has finally had enough of bondage, enough of oppression, enough of injustice and is struck with the inspiration to take action once and for all. It’s a reminder that prayers are answered in motion, and that action is needed to bring them to reality.”

It is the type of empowering, inclusive message that has become a Gangstagrass specialty. As R-Son says, “Gangstagrass is for the people and by the people. We fight for equality and justice and freedom in the best way we know how… And we’re not waiting anymore.”

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