The best white rapper is Bubba Sparxxx

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And that's not a joke.

His first record, "Dark Days, Bright Nights" was quite good -- it featured some great Timbaland production, and Bubba's charming flow.

He really kicked it up a notch with his second record, "Deliverance." It was one of the best produced albums of the past few years, with some wonderful contributions from Organized Noise (in-house producers of the Dungeon Family), and some stunning work by Timbo. While on the first record, Bubba's "country boy" image felt like a gimmick, on this one, it felt like a manifesto. His flow on this record is still smooth and easy, but it's got a new passion, borne of commitment to his "New South" identity.

There's a portion of the South in the spirit of the song
Keep followin the fiddle, it'll never steer you wrong
I've lived a lot of life, so my innocence is blown
I'm headin to La Grange, to replenish it at home

Here was a white rapper who was rapping soulfully about *his* identity. One influenced by close ties with black culture, but nonetheless distinctively his own. Sadly, folks weren't really buying it.

Jimmy Mathis was the album's single, and it demonstrates Timbaland's remarkable combination of country signifiers and hip-hop aesthetics. A bluesy-country harmonica sample eloquently suggests the ties between poor rural blacks and poor rural whites. They pull of a similar trick on Deliverance (realaudio link). The LP was a great album, one of the best hip-hop records of the 21st century, but Bubba's image was so locked into the cartoonish stereotype Depicted in the video of his first hit record, Ugly, that folks just didn't buy in.

Bubba's got a new record coming out April 4th, The Charm, and I'm hoping it'll be as good as the last one. He's signed up with Big Boi's Purple Ribbon label, and he's had a few great tracks on their two compilations. If this work with the new Dungeon Family can match past collabs like Back in the Mud from Deliverance, it could be something special.

Here are two tracks from the new record that suggest my optimism could be well-founded:

The Other Side of the Room

Claremont Lounge f. Cool Breeze and Killer Mike