White Trash Revelry

White Trash Revelry

Recent years have seen a surge of progressive artists find their footing in country music, bringing new and necessary perspectives to a genre traditionally dominated by those of straight white men. Adeem the Artist is one of the finest of that bunch of up-and-comers, introducing their clever, compassionate, and often complex take on country songwriting via 2021’s breakout hit Cast Iron Pansexual. White Trash Revelry follows that LP, marking Adeem’s first release on their own Four Quarters Records label and building upon its predecessor’s exploration of identity, class, and marginalization. Opener “Carolina” offers Adeem’s origin story, doing so with a level of nuance rarely heard in the genre. “Heritage of Arrogance” and “Redneck, Unread Hicks” both challenge stereotypes of the uneducated Southerner while admitting the region’s many sins. And closer “My America” caps the project with a weary but quietly hopeful vision of the country, though one imbued with a sense of loving skepticism and concern. “It was really important to me that I have a record that had bold, unapologetic representation but also had real characters from my family and my community,” Adeem tells Apple Music. “I wanted it to feel like these are not mutually exclusive characters or ideas. This is the only way we have of moving forward—to allow these voices to live alongside of each other and find some way to get along.” Below, Adeem shares insight into several key tracks on White Trash Revelry. “Carolina” “My dad named me after Kyle Petty. He’s a NASCAR driver. He’s a songwriter, too—pretty good songwriter. But he’s not the best NASCAR driver. No disrespect. His dad, Richard Petty, was the best NASCAR driver. They call him The King. So, my dad, with no sense of irony, named me after the son of the best ever. I saw that Kyle was playing Johnson City, and I called the owner of the venue, and I was like, ‘Look, I was named after Kyle Petty. I will sell tickets to this show. I will promote my ass off. You don’t have to pay me. Please let me open.’ That was a pretty good deal, so she gave me the gig. So, I wrote this song as I was imagining getting up in a room full of NASCAR fans at The Willow Tree coffee shop in Johnson City, Tennessee, on Bristol race weekend.” “Heritage of Arrogance” “I have this memory of being in Charlotte in the early ’90s, and I don’t know if it’s implanted. I don’t know if it’s a true memory or not because everything gets a little muddy back then. But it’s a memory of seeing the Klan gathered on one side of the road, and a bunch of Black activists on the other side of the road, with their fists in the air, all pissed off. And my dad just kind of being like, ‘Yeah, they hate each other.’ I had this idea for this song, and I was trying to remember if it was real or not, or if it was just a story I heard somebody in my family tell or something. And so, I googled to see if the Klan was still holding rallies in Charlotte in the ’90s. And they were. A lot. Probably a true memory.” “Middle of a Heart” “I wrote the song mostly for my friend Bob. He was a retired Knoxville police officer and a Navy veteran. He worked on boats. I would go have breakfast with Bob and make him bacon and eggs. And he’d be like, ‘Make some for yourself, buddy.’ We’d watch the birds outside and eat bacon and eggs, and that’s what we did. All of his kids had died and [his wife] Carlene died. And we would just sit there and watch TV and watch the birds. He was a good friend to me. He was a dude who disagreed with me about politics more than anybody I’ve ever known, but he put his humanity first. And, yeah, that song’s for him.” “Redneck, Unread Hicks” “It becomes really easy to, I don’t know, kind of view the South through a very myopic lens. It’s all white supremacists or bucktoothed rednecks, yada, yada, yada. And it’s endowed with a lot of classism, and it’s a really dangerous form of erasure, too. It’s true that Bill Lee, the [Tennessee] governor who ran on dismantling gay marriage, is from this area and that those are his values. But it’s also true that Martin Luther King, Jr. is from this area. Amelia Parker’s from this area; she helped found Black Lives Matter here in Knoxville and now works for the city council. There are a lot of queer folks who have fought hard and a lot of Black folks who have fought hard. There’s a lot more diversity here and a lot more nuance than people want to give it credit for.” “My America” “There’s this guy named Aaron Lewis, and he's kind of a shithead. He wrote this song called ‘Am I the Only One.’ And in this song, he has lyrics like, ‘Am I the only one willing to bleed for America?’ This guy’s not a fucking veteran. I listened to this song exactly one time, and I felt so annoyed by it that I parodied it in a silly way on Twitter. I said things like, ‘Am I the only one who’s a self-centered child? I’m only mad because my kids won’t call.’ And people told me I should put it on the record, which was really silly. But it did make me think, ‘Man, what if Aaron Lewis had enough compassion and sensitivity and care that he tried to articulate the perspective of the people he was trying to capitalize on? What if he actually loved them? What if he actually tried to understand them?’ And that song became that for me.”

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