Love your country music pieces, Rob. Great to see it being discussed in such serious terms on the Ringer.
As someone firmly entrenched in the “Fuck Bro-Country” camp I have to say that Sam Hunt or anyone that can be characterized as a “quasi-rapper” is about as for from unifying as they come. Personally, I don’t think that unification ever comes, I think this is a permanent divide and have come to terms with it. I just avoid mainstream radio at all costs and enjoy the small, intimate shows and venues that my favorite artists play when they come in town. And it actually makes it easier to weed one group of people from the other.. You don’t see many affliction shirts at a Shovels and Rope concert.
May Simspon’s tirade was a little self-aggrandizing but it seemed to be coming from a place of genuine anguish for the blatant disrespect shown to one of his heroes who recently passed on. That, and maybe the extinguishing of a lifelong dream to be featured alongside that hero on a major publication. It can’t be easy to be in his shoes for these past few years and to be labeled as a savior by one group while being ostracized by the other. Eventually you have to vent, no matter how cool you are.