The Founding of the MuzikMafia (October 2001)
What started as a weekly showcase at a downtown Nashville club morphed into a splashily eclectic collective of performers whose ultimate ringleaders, "Big" Kenny Alphin and John Rich, espoused utopian ideals — e.g. "country music without prejudice." They simultaneously established a commercial pipeline through which their duo, Big & Rich, defiant traditionalist Gretchen Wilson, country rapper Cowboy Troy and other acts could gain traction in the country marketplace. The conscious diversity of the MuzikMafia spanned race and genre, not only in the case of Cowboy Troy, who's African-American, but soul-pop songwriter Mista D and sometime-associates like George Clinton. In a recent New York Times feature, Rich said of their vision, "It was science fiction 10 years ago, and now it's reality."