Kane Brown: “I Was Trying To Be Safe Putting Out My Country Album, But Now I’m Turning Into More Of That Nelly”

As we approach the one-year anniversary of Kane Brown blocking us on Twitter, he has once again sat down for an interview and inevitably said something that leaves us all scratching our heads.

And look, I really don’t enjoy always piling on Kane every time he opens his mouth, but it’s just so damn infuriating to hear the way he talks about country music, that I gotta say something. He doesn’t like us? Fine, I can live with that.

Kane Brown sat down with Zane Lowe on Apple Music to break down his newly-released “At Home With” playlist on Apple Music. Zane and Kane got into everything from Kane’s time at during quarantine, to how he met his wife and the artists that made Kane’s playlist, but given the amount of pop collabs Kane has done, you know they had to get into country music and where Kane fits into the overall landscape of the genre.

And according to Kane the future might be more like…. Nelly? When Zane mentioned that Nelly was essentially a founding father of bringing the gap between country and hip hop (hello Tim McGraw collab), Kane admitted that country was “safe” for him when he was first starting out but Nelly was more of the artist he wanted to be:

“Yeah. To me, it was like that’s the kind of artist that I wanted to be. So as I got into music, I was trying to be safe and put out my country album. But now I’m thinking I’m turning into more of that Nelly.”

Huh? So going forward, you want to be more like Nelly? Did I hear that correctly?

He continued that he’ll always have a country song (that’s debatable) on the radio, but that he doesn’t want to be confined to one genre.

“I’ll always have a country song before I’ll have a pop song, just because I love country music and I’m not… They let me in. I’m not going to betray them. That’s my family. I don’t want to be stuck in one door, especially because country’s changing so much. I feel like there’s pop fans that if they give country music a chance, especially nowadays country, then it will bring them in a little bit. Then that’s how you get on. You’re like, “Okay, I like this.” That’s how you get onto the 90’s country, which to me was the best of all time, because that was storytelling.”

I understand the concept of widening the net to attract pop fans, who might then fall in love with Alan Jackson someday, but let’s not pretend this is some kind of noble endeavor to get more people into traditional country music. Because it’s not…

And while plenty of country artists have done crossover work or pop collabs, Kane wants to have both country songs on country radio and pop songs on pop radio. He referred to Morgan Wallen’s “Heartless” as the “perfect mix of both” but not the same as having a country song AND a distinct pop song.

“It’s amazing to be able to have a song at Pop Radio and a song at Country Radio. If I can keep that going, there’s not really a lot of other artists that’s doing that. You’ll have an artist that has … like Morgan Wallen’s “Heartless.” That song to me is a perfect mix of both. But he don’t have the one in one. I haven’t seen another artist in a while where they have a country song and a pop song on both charts.”

To which Zane replied:

“Oh, careful, Kane. There’s a flex going on here. There’s a little mic drop coming. I can feel it.”

And while Zane was just kidding and there wasn’t any flex going on, you kinda have to wonder what the hell Kane is even talking about?

You admit to playing it safe with country and that they “let you in” but now you want to be more like Nelly, who let’s face it, was a rapper that did a couple country collabs. It wasn’t like Nelly was putting out Alan Jackson songs, did a Tim McGraw collab, and still kept up with the rap hits.

And for all this talk about ’90s country and that era being the “best of all time,” let’s see you actually put some of that out to country radio instead of pop songs like “Cool Again.” Kane has had two solid, albeit a little cheesy, songs in recent memory that are reminiscent of that ’90s country sound: “Short Skirt Weather” (which sounds A LOT like FGL’s “I Love My Country,” so much so that Kane Brown was added to the credits) and the newly-released “BFE.” 

Why don’t you put those out? If you haven’t noticed Luke Combs, Jon Pardi, Ashley McBryde, Cody Johnson are all killing it right now with that sound.

This whole conversation goes back to the idea that Kane Brown has continued to use country music as a vehicle for his career in pop music and has gone as far as to admit that it was the “safe” move. And now that he’s established himself a bit, he’s by his own admission, looking to turn the dial even further away from country music, like Nelly I guess…

Is there anything wrong with crossover songs? Kane collaborating with other artists in different genres for pop hits? Kane putting out pop songs of his own? No, not really. Kane is free to do whatever the hell he wants. But for fuck’s sake can we get a little consistency?

You say you like ’90s country, but barely record anything like that, and even when you do, you sure as hell don’t put it out to radio. And then you say you were “playing it safe” with your country music but really want to get into more of “that Nelly,” but then also say that you’ll always have a country song first, but STILL don’t really make any country music, but THEN say ’90s country will hopefully come back, but it kinda already is…. I mean, I’m putting my brain into a pretzel just trying to figure out what the hell Kane is even talking about.

And then, he has the nerve to say that people still on Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard, you know Red Dirt Country fans (LOL) can’t stand him… well, gee ya think? You’ve shown no appreciation for country music whatsoever other than “they let me in, I don’t want to betray them.”

Zane himself even shed some light on this in the very same conversation:

“The craft of country music is precious. Nobody wants anyone who’s a tourist to ever be involved, right? It’s like you’re either authentic or you’re not. It’s an incredibly authentic space. Hip-hop is the same. If you’re not authentic, don’t show up.”

That kinda sums it up doesn’t it? Country fans actually care about country music. They care about the history and they care about the direction it’s headed in. And I think they’re a lot smarter than people like to give them credit for.

They see Kane Brown and they see a guy that lacks conviction, a guy that lacks respect for the genre, and a guy that openly admits to playing it safe by making country music, hoping to eventually cash checks in the pop world. And sure, Kane has a ton of fans that don’t care because they don’t care about country music either.

And you think the CMA voters don’t see that? Kane Brown was once again snubbed by the CMA Awards, and you could argue that his numbers should have found him with a nomination at some point during his career. But then again, it’s also not hard to see why the Country Music Association voters wouldn’t want to vote for someone that doesn’t seem to care much for country music.

You can listen to the whole conversation with Zane Lowe here and take from it what you want, but in the meantime, I guess this is what we have to look forward to…

Shop the new Dutton Ranch Collection in the Whiskey Riff Shop

Whiskey Riff is the most entertaining country site…ever.