If 2019 is the year Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road took country rap worldwide, let the record show that Tampa Bay got its eight seconds of fame at the rodeo, too.
It just came courtesy of a rapper from Rochester, Minn.
That would be Yung Gravy, a.k.a. 23-year-old Matt Hauri, creator of the streaming hit Tampa Bay Bustdown.
“I’ve never been to Tampa Bay,” Gravy admitted by email this week, days before his concert Friday at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg. “I have been a fan of the Bucs forever, though, and I always play as the Lightning in NHL.”
While Gravy may not yet be a household name, his streaming spins have reached the hundreds of millions, with Tampa Bay Bustdown, released in August, up to 5.5 million on Spotify. The onetime DIY rapper signed with Republic Records thanks to his syrupy delivery, goofball lyrics and trap beats built around eccentric samples (the barbershop staple Mr. Sandman in Mr. Clean, Player’s ’70s slow jam Baby Come Back in Cheryl).
Tampa Bay Bustdown, a duet with Chicago rapper Chief Keef, fits right into that mold. Driven by acoustic guitars, fiddles and a low-riding beat, the song interpolates country singer Josh Turner’s Your Man (“Baby, lock the door and turn the lights down low ...”) and references Garth Brooks, the Chattahoochee River and, why not, Harry Potter and Mary Poppins.
“The song got started about a year ago after (producer) Y2K and I rewatched Deliverance,” Gravy said. “The movie brought me back to some run-ins I had with the law in rural Georgia back when I was 18, and my other experiences from down south. The dueling banjos scene partially inspired the beat, and I wrote the lyrics while reminiscing on highlights from down south and some of the experiences I had with country folks down there.
“We chose the name Tampa Bay Bustdown because of how nicely that flows off the tongue, without realizing that Tampa isn’t exactly the most ‘Dirty South’ type of city that I’m singing about.”
Baby, cock the Glock and then I let it spray
Bust it out the Chevrolet
Goin’ fishing for your bitch today
We drunk in Tampa Bay
And we gon’ hit a lick, we getting rich today
Okay, sure, it’s not for everyone. But the record-smashing Old Town Road showed the mainstream mega-potential for country-flavored rap songs like Tampa Bay Bustdown, Blanco Brown’s The Git Up or Lil Tracy’s Like a Farmer.
“We started the song about a year ago, before we had heard Lil Tracy or Lil Nas X’s country rap songs. Love those songs, by the way,” Gravy said. “Chief Keef and I loved the idea of having an 808 (drum machine) combined with a banjo, but neither of us really have much of a country background. I’ve heard all the big country hits and partied with some country folks, so even though I didn’t grow up country at all, I’m definitely down for a little yee-haw every once in a while.”
As you might expect, the reaction in Tampa Bay to a song about getting drunk in Tampa Bay has been pretty hot. Gravy said he has even heard about the Lightning using his music in videos, “so now I’m officially loyal forever.”
“I’ve never seen so much love from a particular city since my hometown,” he said. “It’s been awesome seeing all the existing fans from the area get hyped and seeing new fans from Tampa slide into my DMs.”
And on Friday, he’s ready to bring the Bustdown home where it belongs.
“I don’t want to give anything away, but we got something extra crazy planned for the show on Friday,” he said. “Can’t wait, baby.”
IF YOU GO
With Tiiiiiiiiiip and Savage Realm. $24.50 and up. 8 p.m. Friday. Jannus Live, 200 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 565-0550. jannuslive.com.