The Imagery, Music, and Message of CunninLynguists' 'Dirty Acres'

A quick reflection on the group's 2007 album and its continued relevance.

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After starting 2006 by releasing their impressive concept album A Piece of Strange, CunninLynguists members Deacon The VillainNatti, and Kno brought 2007 to a close with the even more thoughtful and introspective Dirty Acresa record that dove deep into racism, America’s political climate at the time, and the group’s southern roots.

Peep Kno’s verses on “Georgia” for an example: “My grandparents told me the goal that you choose/When you realize the world's only open to few/Will measure yo' worth, tether yo' hurt/It's the same search that can lead you to church/But if they have time, to hate a whole race/How do y'all have the mind, to tell me 'bout my faith?/Do y'all have time to discuss God's grace/If you're too busy studyin’ the color of a face?/I don't follow man to avoid the disgrace/Of the close-minded culprits of Southern mistakes"

The stark cover art further accented the message in the music, as one of photographer Sol’s bleak images captured the group burying a Klansman. Other shots picture the group with shovels in hand.

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The music behind the message was also captivating, with Kno once again handling production duties for the group with his trusty FL Studio setup. Just as he did on the previous album, the CunninLynguists MC/producer showed an evolution in the intricate composition and polish of his production.

Dirty Acres” is a soulful number that demands repeat listens, the haunting vocal sample on “Summer’s Gone” will give you goosebumps, and “Georgia” serves as a beautiful compliment to one of the albums most impressive lyrical cuts.

Yellow Lines,” which features Phonte of Little Brother and Dungeon Family member Witchdoctor, proved so impressive that Witchdoctor created his own song to the beat and that ended up on his 2007 album The Diary Of An American Witchdoctor.

On “The Park,” Kno’s masterful blending of piano keys and vocals on the hook creates an intoxicating vibe. So intoxicating, in fact, that Kno and an observant fan couldn’t help but wonder if his work influenced 808-Ray and Cool & Dre’s “Boblo Boat” beat that they crafted for Royce da 5'9" and J. Cole.

Unfortunately, it isn’t just the samples and instrumentals from Dirty Acres that remain relevant today. Long existing systems of white supremacy and state-sanctioned violence against Black, Brown, and Indigenous people in America addressed in the album’s lyrics continue to impede our nation’s ability to make true progress. As Kno noted on the album’s 10-year anniversary, much as some of us would like to bury a Klansman and their hateful ideology, the deep-seated racism in every facet of American life seems like it has only grown stronger in recent years and may never cease to exist.