Carroll County and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony are names one would never expect to be associated with each other. Josh Burton is about to change that.
Burton, a Carroll County native, is set to release a new “hick hop” single titled ‘Stay Up and Pray Up,’ a collaboration with Layzie Bone of the famed rap group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony on April 20. Burton has been trying to make a name for himself in the region with his unique style of hick hop, or country rap. Recording a single with a Grammy-winning artist that was part of a rap group that has sold over 100 million albums in the U.S. should certainly go a long way in helping Burton accomplish that goal.
“I am absolutely stoked about it because I don’t know of anybody in Virginia that has worked with these guys,” Burton said. “These guys have worked with Eazy-E, 2Pac, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg. This will set me into a whole other category as far as a recording artist out of Virginia.”
Burton said the collaboration began when he reached out to record labels with his music, trying to get rights to a beat from an old song.
“One thing led to another in the conversation and I ended up doing a track with them. It is an old track they did (called ‘Ghetto Cowboy’) and we redid it for a new sound,” Burton said. “The old song went gold and he believes this one will go bigger than gold. When they checked out my music they said my sound was different than anybody else out there. They said it had an old school/new style sound that separated me from everybody else.”
Burton said the song is about staying up and counting your blessings. He anticipates the single to be available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and other digital platforms. Commercials will also be released soon for the song on Facebook and YouTube, he said.
“The song was called ‘Ghetto Cowboy’ by Layzie Bone and another member of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. You could say they pioneered country rap music because they did the song before hick hop,” Burton said. “Everybody around here is starting to get a buzz about it now. They can download the song or get it from any of the online stores.”
Burton, 35, said he began rapping in 1999. He switched from traditional rap to hick hop in 2016.
“Country rap suits me more because I am country,” he said. “The Carroll County Born and Bred song blew up on Facebook and I knew right then and there where I need to go because the first night it had 2,000 shares. I have a whole album going out now called Desperado that Layzie Bone’s producers are mixing and mastering. It will have a new version of Carroll County Born and Bred with professional singers.”
Burton has performed at the Carroll County Fair the last two years and is set to return again this year on Aug. 25 from 9-10:30 p.m. He will also be performing at the Dublin Fair on July 27 at 7 p.m. He said his music on ReverbNation has reached people in 48 states and even in the U.K. He also won an online radio station song of the week in 2016 for his song ‘Backwoods Girl.’
Burton grew up in Sylvatus and played football at Carroll County High School. Unlike most rap music, Burton only performs clean music. It was something he stressed during the collaboration with Layzie Bone.
“I told them the track had to be clean because I have such a young fanbase and following. Plus, God told me to make clean music in 2016,” said Burton. “I am a Christian, but I am also an ex-drug dealer and ex-drug addict and I don’t want people going down the same road I have been on. That was God looking out for me is what that is. I talk about it in churches. I want people to know they can come from that past. That is one of the reasons we come up with the Carroll County Outlaw theme was because in Carroll County a lot of times even though you get clean and on the right path, people still look at you like you live in the past, so I will always be a Carroll County outlaw.”
Burton said Harmony Howse is the name of the label Layzie Bone is currently running. He said a music video for ‘Stay Up and Pray Up’ will be released later this year and you may find more information about him and his music at Facebook.com/therealjoshburton
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN