Where I've Been, Isn't Where I'm Going

Where I've Been, Isn't Where I'm Going

Shaboozey has long been inspired by the romantic notion of the outlaw: “The guy who’s standing against a whole bunch of folks and it’s like, ‘We’re going to take them down.’ Yeah, you can try!” the musician tells Apple Music’s Kelleigh Bannen. The obsession is less quaint than it sounds. Having pored through old western films, dime-store pulp novels and gunslinger ballads à la Marty Robbins, the Virginia native noticed that old-school cowboy culture and hip-hop share a preoccupation with all things American renegade. The conversation around country music’s Black roots will sound familiar to anyone who tuned in to Beyoncé’s COWBOY CARTER, which featured Shaboozey on two tracks. (“Beyoncé’s been such a big part of being Black in America,” he said, still in awe of the opportunity. “At every point in our lives, she has had some sort of cultural impact.”) But the 29-year-old singer/rapper has been staking his territory in the space between hip-hop and country for a decade, redefining what it means to be a modern country star. His third album, Where I’ve Been, Isn’t Where I’m Going, plays out like a classic American road movie, opening with steel guitar, the gallop of horse hooves, and Shaboozey with his foot on the gas, fresh out of smokes and headed nowhere in particular. On tracks like “Let It Burn”, his rich baritone is equal parts Willie, Waylon and woozy blues rap à la Future. Elsewhere, he channels Imagine Dragons’ arena-ready roots rock, where breakup banger “Annabelle” hits the sweet spot between Fleetwood Mac and Post Malone. But the star-making moment is “A Bar Song (Tipsy)”, the breakaway hit of 2024’s Stagecoach Festival: a Southern-fried riff on a 20-year-old J-Kwon club classic with TGIF vibes.

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