I’ve made some truly awful predictions in my day.
I once picked Andy Miller to win the Cy Young Award. Another time, I said the Red Sox adding Brad Penny would equal the Yankees bringing in C.C. Sabathia. Those are two of the 500 that come to mind. Bad, terrible, brutal predictions.
For my money, however, no one matches the psychic awfulness of Neal McCoy a once-upon-a-flash country singer of some note who, in 1995, agreed to speak with me about rap. At the time, Dr. Dre and Tupac were big, Snoop Dogg was rising—and, within country circles, there was still this belief that hip-hop would vanish with the next wind. I was a scribe with The Tennessean who loved rap (like, loved-loved-loved it), so I decided to write a piece on whether country and rap could find common ground.
The answer, according to the few rappers I spoke to, was, “Yes.” MC Hammer, of all people told me rap and country shared the common bond of storytelling; that they both took life journeys and put them into narratives.
McCoy wasn’t having this. He hated rap. Loathed rap. Told me it was nonsense jibber-jabber that would leave town on the next bus. He saw no talent in the medium, and deplored the presumed violence of the genre. “It’s a trend,” he said. “That’s all.”
That was 18 years ago.
As I write this, hip-hop rules the universe. It’s everywhere, crossing multiple mediums, dominating much of the landscape. Country, meanwhile, has sorta folded into pop. The biggest names in the business aren’t folks like Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton. No, they’re crossover singers—Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift. Even Kelly Clarkson and Darius Rucker are now classified as country.
As for Neal McCoy, well, at the same time Snoop Dogg remains a mega- mega- mega-star, McCoy is preparing for three days at the Oak Ridge Boys Theater in Branson, Missouri.
Not that anything’s wrong with that.
But he could sure use a Twista interlude …