Deliverance album cover
Deliverance

Bubba Sparxxx

2003
Interscope Records

The commercial release of his debut Dark Days, Bright Nights saw Bubba Sparxxx — not just a white rapper, but a white Southern rapper!!! — pigeonholed as “what if Eminem but hillbilly.” This didn’t do anyone any favors, even as early single “Ugly” and its Indo-manic “Get Ur Freak On” Timbaland crossover-episode beat positioned him as repping something more substantially adventurous than any W Bush-era redneck-zeitgeist stereotypes would’ve inspired. And Sparxxx’s agreeably drawling voice at full bellow is far closer to Luda than Shady anyways, which makes Deliverance a high-caliber Southern rap joint even before you factor in primary producer Timbaland flirting with soaking his own sound in Organized Noize’s waters. Given a significantly higher Tim-to-Dungeon Fam ratio than Dark Days — with the latter production unit notching a couple out-there bangers on midtempo hesher-riffing “New South” and the manic punk-crunk “Back in the Mud” — you’d think Deliverance would double down on “Ugly”-assed hyperfuturism. But Tim leans into the hick-hop currents headfirst instead, using the same macro-sonic approach to exploding tropes for country signifiers that he did in his bhangra-jungle hybrids a couple years previous. And if the “Stone Fox Chase” harmonica on “Jimmy Mathis,” the Yonder Mountain String Band bluegrass interpolation on “Comin’ Round,” and the outlaw twang in the chorus of “Warrant” sound like Timbaland’s painting with a broad brush, the rapper those beats keep countrified at least asserts his New South mind’s just as broad. He’s even got quieter moments, introspective enough (autobio rumination “Deliverance,” post-breakup blame-shouldering “She Tried”) and magnanimous enough (even in defensive-mode claim-stakes “Like It Or Not” and “Take A Load Off”) to prove that while he might be a redneck, he’s no asshole.

Nate Patrin

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