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CunninLynguists live.jpg
Performing live in 2009
Background information
Origin Lexington, Kentucky, US
Genres Alternative hip hop
Occupation(s) Rapping, production
Years active 2000—
Labels Freshchest (2001–2005)
LA Underground (2005–2006)
APOS Music (2006—), QN5 Music (2006— )
Associated acts QN5 Music, Tonedeff, Freddie Gibbs, Big K.R.I.T., Built to Fade
Website CunninLynguists at Myspace
Members Kno[1]
Deacon the Villain
Past members Mr. SOS

CunninLynguists are an American hip hop trio from Lexington, Kentucky[2] and Atlanta, Georgia. The group currently consists of Deacon the Villain, Kno, and Natti. The group has released an extensive discography, including multiple mixtapes and studio albums, all which have been subject to widespread critical acclaim, for their layered production, and deep lyricism.


The group's debut LP, Will Rap for Food, was released in October 2001, and was described by Pitchfork Media as "a solid, accessible debut, filled with clever rhymes and tremendously consistent production".[3][4] The group decided on their clever name when recording their earliest material because they wanted listeners to not take their music as seriously as their music sounded.[5] Their second LP, SouthernUnderground, was independently released April 1, 2003 on Freshchest Records. The album saw Mr. SOS join the group and featured guests including Masta Ace, Supastition and others, with production from Domingo, RJD2 and Kno.[3] M.F. DiBella of Allmusic commented on "a lyrical deftness and genuine feel for the music rarely seen in the bling-conscious rap of the latter-day era".[6]

The group landed a distribution contract with Caroline Distribution in 2004, and SouthernUnderground was the first project re-released after inking the deal with Will Rap For Food being re-released shortly thereafter in 2005.[3]

The group toured throughout the U.S. and Canada in 2003, 2004 and 2005, appearing onstage alongside acts like Nappy Roots, Cee-Lo Green of Goodie Mob and touring extensively with People Under the Stairs, Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan and Brand Nubian. In 2003, Kno created his own remixed version of Jay-Z's The Black Album titled The White Al-bu-lum.[7]

CunninLynguists released their third LP, A Piece of Strange, worldwide on January 24, 2006 via Caroline Records and Groove Attack Distribution. With Mr. SOS now having left the group and Natti joining,[3][8] it featured guest spots from Cee-Lo Green, Immortal Technique and Tonedeff and is entirely produced by Kno.[9] The release of A Piece of Strange saw the profile for the group rise, as they toured abroad multiple times[10] in support of the release appearing live alongside such acts as Kanye West,[11] Pharrell Williams,[10] The Strokes[10] and more. Hype gave the album a five star review describing it as "the best album of the last 12 months".[12] URB gave the album four stars, describing it as "a piece of beauty, a soulful and sweeping assemblage of cuts that ride a steady wave of infectious momentum",[13] while The A.V. Club commented on Kno's "masterful, adventurous production".[14]

CunninLynguists released their fourth LP, Dirty Acres on November 27, 2007 through a joint venture between their own label APOS Music and Swedish-based label Bad Taste Records.[15] Produced entirely by Kno, it features artists such as Devin the Dude, Phonte of Little Brother and Witchdoctor,[16] and was described by CMJ New Music Monthly as "a defiant album that questions everything, even the assumed standards of hip hop".[17] It was lauded by Michael Kabran of PopMatters as "easily one of the best hip-hop albums of 2007 and arguably one of the best albums of the past decade".[18] CunninLynguists made their way across the United States, Europe and Canada in support of the album, headlining the Dirty Acres Tour in 3 parts over the course of 2008.[19]

CunninLynguists have been covered in various media outlets including The Source, URB, Spin, XLR8R, Import Tuner, and The Onion.

In 2010, producer Kno released his album Death Is Silent. On December 21, the group released the artwork and March 22 release date of their fifth album Oneirology on their Facebook page. In 2011, they released Oneirology to critical acclaim.

In 2013, Kno formed a new group, Built to Fade, with vocalists Dane Ferguson, Zoe Wick and Anna Wise (of Sonnymoon). The band released their debut album To Dust on November 12.[20]

In 2014, CunninLynguists released their sixth LP, Strange Journey Volume Three, to critical acclaim. The LP was curated entirely by the group's fans who gave feedback on and suggested ideas for song concepts, features, packaging, and artwork.[21] The same year, CunninLynguists' lexicon was also found to be one of the richest among rappers who perform in English.[22] In addition, Deacon The Villain and Natti were featured on the title track on Swedish rap group Looptroop Rockers album Naked Swedes.[citation needed]


Kno and Deacon the Villain are the founding and current members of CunninLynguists and have been found on every CunninLynguists album thus far since the group's inception in March 2000. Deacon and Kno met at Club Kaya in Atlanta, Georgia at an event for the now defunct Blaze Magazine that included various members of Atlanta's own Dungeon Family.[23] CunninLynguists would later go on to work with various Dungeon Family members such as Cee-Lo Green,[24] Big Rube,[24] Khujo Goodie,[25] EJ The Witchdoctor[24] and Killer Mike,[25] with the latter comparing CunninLynguists' sound to Dungeon Family "in its heyday".[25]

Kno, hailing from Georgia and currently residing in Atlanta, has been described as "one of the top loop-miners east of the Mississippi" by URB. He produced the majority of Will Rap For Food, SouthernUnderground, A Piece of Strange, Sloppy Seconds 2 and Dirty Acres and has also received acclaim in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and other magazines for his remix of Jay-Z's Black Album, entitled Kno vs. Hov "The White Albulum".

Hailing from Versailles, Kentucky, Deacon the Villain is also an established producer. His beats have been used by the likes of KRS-One,[26] King Tee, and J-Ro from Tha Liks, as well as local Kentucky artists such as Rob Jackson and Bonafide Circle.

Kentucky-based emcee Natti has been involved in the group from November 2004 until the present (appearing on all material since Sloppy Seconds Volume 2). Natti has released his first solo album, Still Motion, on September 24 (September 30 in CD form).

As of January 2006, the duo of Kno and Deacon have begun work as a production duo under the banner A Piece of Strange Music, currently producing for Devin the Dude, Lil' Scrappy, Immortal Technique and others.

Florida-based emcee Mr. SOS was a part of CunninLynguists from July 2002 to October 2004 (appearing mainly on SouthernUnderground and Sloppy Seconds Volume 1).


Studio albums
  • Will Rap for Food
    • Released: October 20, 2001
    • Label: Urban Acres Entertainment
    • Re-Released: January 25, 2005
    • Label: Freshchest Records
  • SouthernUnderground
    • Released: April 1, 2003
    • Re-Released: April 20, 2004
    • Label: Freshchest Records
  • A Piece of Strange
    • Released: January 24, 2006
    • Label: QN5 Music, L.A. Underground
  • Dirty Acres
    • Released: November 27, 2007
    • Label: APOS Music
  • Oneirology
    • Release Date: March 22, 2011
    • Label: APOS Music
  • The WinterFire EP
    • Release Date: November 8, 2014
    • Label: Knolan Ryan Productions
  • "So Live!"/"Thugged Out Since Cub Scouts" b/w "616 Rewind"
  • "Seasons" b/w "Sunrise, Sunset"
  • "Dirtay" b/w "Smoke Out" (Cashmere the Pro)
  • "Yellow Lines"
  • "Mexico" b/w "Wonderful"
  • "Never Come Down (The Brownie Song)"
  • "Cocaine"
  • "Don't Leave (When Winter Comes)" b/w "Nothing But Strangeness"
  • "Running Wild"
  • "To Be for Real"
  • "Imperial"
  • "Stars Shine Brightest (In The Darkest Of Night)"
  • "Hard As They Come (Act I)"
  • "Darkness (Dream On)"


  1. ^ Wigney, Allan "CunninLynguists serve up southern rap", Canadian Online Explorer, retrieved 2010-04-13
  2. ^ Hess, Mickey (2009) Hip Hop in America: A Regional Guide: Volume 1: East Coast and West Coast, Greenwood Press, ISBN 978-0-313-34323-0, p. x
  3. ^ a b c d Jeffries, David "CunninLynguists Biography", Allmusic, retrieved 2010-04-12
  4. ^ Kallman (2003) "CunninLynguists Southernunderground", Pitchfork Media, 18 May 2003, retrieved 2010-04-12
  5. ^ Simmons, Jon. "Interview: Deacon Villain of CunninLynguists". Sound of Boston. Sound of Boston. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  6. ^ DiBella, M.F. "Southernunderground Review", Allmusic, retrieved 2010-04-12
  7. ^ Johnson, T. Hasan. "The Black Album Remix Phenomenon", in Hess, Mickey (2007) Icons of hip hop: an encyclopedia of the movement, music, and culture, Volume 2, Greenwood Press, ISBN 978-0-313-33904-2, p. 535-6
  8. ^ Strock, Owen (2005) "CunninLynguists A Piece of Strange", CMJ New Music Monthly, retrieved 2010-04-12
  9. ^ Walker, Verbal (2005) "Cunninlynguists new projects", HipHopDX, June 3, 2005, retrieved 2010-04-12
  10. ^ a b c QN Calendar: June 2006, Retrieved on November 2006.
  11. ^ QN Calendar: July 2006, Retrieved on November 2006.
  12. ^ "CunninLynguists A Piece of Strange", Hype, 2006
  13. ^ Polowy, Kevin (2006) "Cunninlynguists - A Piece of Strange", URB
  14. ^ Rabin, Nathan (2005) "A Piece Of Strange / Chain Letters", The A.V. Club, 26 October 2005, retrieved 2010-04-12
  15. ^ Bad Taste Records at Retrieved on November, 2007
  16. ^ CunninLynguists – Dirty Acres at YouTube
  17. ^ Youssef, Emily (2007) "CunninLynguists Dirty Acres", CMJ New Music Monthly, December 2007, retrieved 2010-04-12
  18. ^ Kabran, Michael (2009) "CunninLynguists, Alliteration, and a Strange Journey", PopMatters, April 15, 2009, retrieved 2010-04-12
  19. ^ CunninLynguists Tour Dates 2008, Retrieved November 2008.
  20. ^ Zirpolo, Craig (7 October 2013). "Built to Fade ready to shine". Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  21. ^ Simmons, Jon. "Interview: Deacon Villain of CunninLynguists". Sound of Boston. Sound of Boston. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  22. ^ Daniels, Matt (2014), The Largest Vocabulary in Hip Hop 
  23. ^ "Artist Interview: The CunninLynguists". 27 March 2006. Archived from the original on 16 October 2007. 
  24. ^ a b c CunninLynguists at Retrieved on November 2007
  25. ^ a b c In The Studio With Killer Mike & Khujo Goodie at YouTube. Retrieved on November 2008.
  26. ^ Michael, John (2008) "Cunninlynguists - Extraordinary Gentlemen",, January 1, 2008, retrieved 2010-04-12

External links[edit]