Gin and Juice – The Gourds

The Gourds perform "Gin and Juice" at Bumbershoot in Seattle, September 2007.

A little Late Afternoon OTB:  The Gourds perform “Gin and Juice” at Bumbershoot in Seattle, September 2007.

WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE

It’s not the best recording quality and it actually cuts off after 10 minutes but it’s a decent taste. (Here’s a complete, clean version of the audio.)

I first heard this song eight or nine years ago in the heyday of the Napster and Audio Galaxy music “sharing” services. Among the quirks of that period was that songs would go viral but be mis-attributed to a more famous artist. In this case, people to this day believe Phish recorded it.

For those not familiar with the tune itself, it’s a cover of the 1994 breakout song for Calvin Broadus, Jr. — better known to the world as Snoop Dogg. Oddly, I’d never heard the original until yesterday. Here it is:

The Gourds managed to make the song totally their own, providing an alt-bluegrass beat and making it amusing with the exaggerated drawl and enunciation of gansta lingo and yet somehow simultaneously poignant. The young Snoop’s observations about the difficulties of coming up with a constant stream of new material, hangers on who want to participate in the party but never seem to chip in, and the closing contrast in lifestyles with the more established Dr. Dre are particularly noteworthy.

Interestingly, the audiences of the two songs are almost completely separate. While I truly appreciate Snoop’s talents as a lyricist and entrepreneur, the beat and language of the hip-hop genre just don’t appeal to me. (Except, of course, when done ironically by white people.) And, certainly, gansta rap fans don’t listen to a lot of bluegrass.

There’s probably a lesson about intellectual property rights in here somewhere, too. I don’t know how much money, if any, the Gourds made from this. Snoop should get some cut, or at least a writing credit. But artists ought to be encouraged to build something new from the creation of others, too.

FILED UNDER: Late Night OTB, Popular Culture, Quick Takes, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. I found the song the same way. I think I was searching for some Phish and this came up mistakenly.

  2. In the same vein, The Fray’s cover of Kanye West’s “Heartless” is very good (and non-ironic).

  3. Richard Cheese did an outstanding “lounge” version of Gin & Juice.
    http://www.myspace.com/video/vid/65315

  4. sam says:

    “And, certainly, gansta rap fans don’t listen to a lot of bluegrass.”

    The wife and I have become fans of the series Justified on FX (I recommend it strongly, strongly). The opening music is a rap-blue grass fusion. Check it out. The tune is called Long Hard Times To Come, and the group is called “Gangstagrass”.

    BTW, the series is based on a short story by Elmore Leonard, and he’s one of the producers. As I said, strongly recommended.

  5. sam says:

    Here’s the long version. Pretty interesting piece of music.

  6. sam says:

    Here’s some more of their stuff (sorry guys, I’m on a roll)

    Gangstagrass- I’m Gonna Put You Down

    Gangstagrass – Click Ol’ Gun (cluck ol’ hen)

    Astonishing.

  7. I really like this version, but “make it their own?” It would be really hard to make that case since it was a Top 10 single for Snoop.

  8. James Joyner says:

    @Talmadge East

    They didn’t have a monster hit with it, to be sure. But they produced a completely new song. Having heard theirs first — knowing of course that it was a Snoop song, since he’s namechecked in the first verse — I was shocked at how absolutely different it was. I figured the rap version wouldn’t have Southern twang and mandolin; but they’re not even recognizably similar aside from the lyrics.

  9. Neil Hudelson says:

    Thanks James for tracking down the real artist. A decade or so I had downloaded this song off of Napster, and it was indeed attributed to Phish. I don’t know many Phish songs, but I did know that the vocals between this song and theirs is not similar at all.

    But I was always too lazy to find out who the real artist was.

    Sam: Thanks for the new music.

    For those who like bluegrass/hip hop infusions, check out the Carolina Chocolate Drops version of “Hit Em Up Style” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKTXJUYiAT4

    That version isn’t quite the best version (her vocals get a little out of hand) but they are an excellent band all around.

  10. Neil Hudelson says:

    In the same in vein as the rest of this music–but on the opposite side of the spectrum–is a rap duo out of Seattle called Common Market.

    Together they are some of the best lyricists I’ve ever heard. Most of their music is based on themes like agriculture, rural trade markets, etecetera. If you appreciate at all rap, or even just damn good lyrics, I encourage you to check them out.

    Common Market – Push

    Common Market – Black Patch War

  11. Rick Almeida says:

    This is awesome. Now, if only I could find out who did this anonymous ska cover of Gin & Juice that I’ve had an mp3 of since about 2001.