As the boom from new-age Atlanta hip-hop radiates throughout the country, an entirely different breed of southern rap is quietly evolving elsewhere. Chattanooga, Tennessee, just 120 miles to the north of Atlanta, is home to TUT, a wildly talented up-and-coming rapper who runs in the same crew (“The House”) as Top Dog Entertainment’s very own Isaiah Rashad. While artists like A$AP Rocky work to dissolve the concept of rap-regionalism in the internet age, Chattanooga hip-hop serves as a reminder that pinpointed, grassroots movements are still prominent.
It could be argued that artists like Tut and Rashad are to 90’s southern rap what Joey Bada$$ is to 90’s New York rap: their sound feels familiar enough to resonate with 90’s diehards, but differs enough that it deserves to be in its own category. While one would be hard-pressed to call Preacher’s Son “90’s revival,” it is certainly reminiscent of a time when, if someone asked you if you’ve “seen their friend Molly” at a hip-hop show, you could reasonably assume that this “Molly” was a real human being, and that said friend “Molly” was actually missing.
Preacher’s Son strays entirely away from contemporary southern trends, aiming for a more nostalgic, bluesy, and soulful sound (touches of gospel are evident as well, which should be no surprise, considering the title). It’s southern, but not country; slow, but not screwed (other than some well-placed deepened vocals at the end of “Highs & Lows”). While Preacher’s Son is slightly more “Outkast” than it is “UGK,” songs like “Corner Stories 2” are so evocative of the latter that you can’t help but be half-surprised when Bun B’s verse never comes (especially considering how littered the tape is with references to sipping lean and other southern tropes).
“Two, three niggas gettin’ high in a cadillac/Ride ’till I Die playin’ softly in the back”
Though Preacher’s Son exists in the same soundscape as Cilvia Demo, calling it a knockoff would be both woefully inaccurate and a poor reading of both albums. While the drive behind Cilvia stems from present anger and Rashad’s lack of direction, Preacher’s Son is more of a recollection of the past, keeping score objectively and without judgement as Tut toes the line between following in the footsteps of his uncle (a drug dealer) and father (a preacher). The last track on the album (“Sunday Service”) fades out with a series of chords that are eerily similar to those that open the album, hinting that history might be set to repeat itself. Regardless of Tut’s future actions, one thing is for certain: as with most supposed opposites in life, the difference between a preacher and a drug dealer might not be so black and white.
You can stream or purchase Preacher’s Son here.