The CunninLynguists’ New Album Is Topical Southern Soul That Delights (Audio)

For more than 15 years, the CunninLynguists paved the road for a “Southern Underground.” Kno and Deacon The Villain symbolically formed the group in the early 2000s after meeting at a Morehouse open mic event. 2001’s Will Rap For Food followed, launching a string of soulful releases that embraced concepts, brooding production (even with humor occasionally in the verses), and a style of Rap that was different than the group’s neighbors in its Kentucky and Georgia locales.

Over time, Kno and Deacon endured some personnel shifts, with Mr. S.O.S. in the mix for a short stint, before Natti joined the fold in late 2004. Throughout all the years, the ‘Lynguists worked with Phonte, Cee-Lo, Devin The Dude, Big K.R.I.T., Freddie Gibbs, Del, Masta Ace, E-40, Sean Price, and Evidence just to name a few.

On their sixth album, the just-released Rose Azura Njano, features are not the focal point. Kno, Deacon, and Natti waited six years to release a full-length, and have lots of commentary on America (“Red, White & Blues”), patriotism, influence (“Jimi & Andre”), and the state of Hip-Hop. The trio has been one of the longest running underground outfits, seemingly pure to their intent and roots. Kno creates grooves, and the three artists stay in whatever pocket they create. Few groups of this movement have been as consistent and void of distractions as the CunninLynguists. The crew has evolved but never wavered. For a collective that’s largely existed without videos, it is their music and performance that is so colorful and alluring.

Photograph by Phil Emerson.