The CunninLynguists have been, in many ways, an exception. The duo – later on, a trio - had represented more or less the backpack rap tradition in a place, the Dirty South, where it scarcely existed. Also, in an anachronistic way, they have been loyal to some 90's and Dungeon Family inspired kind of hip-hop, at a time when Atlanta had moved to other subgenres, like crunk, or trap music. And curiously, by the mid-00's, with their third album, A Piece of Strange, they started meeting some success, at least on the critics side, exactly when their kind of rap had seemed rejected to the dustbin of history. As a matter of fact, by the end of the decade, the group was fully part of the hip-hop landscape; it could mix with people coming from other worlds than indie rap, and be a full part of the game by 2009, when mixtapes reached an unequaled status, when they were all the rage.
The CunninLynguists have been some of these few guys, more or less affiliated to the indie rap movement of the early 2000's, who managed to make it and find a place in the bigger rap community. Those rappers from Kentucky, however, were not too different from their peers; they had followed more or less the same path – an ascending or descending one, depending on the view. Originally a revivalist group, fond of 90's sounding loops and samples, and with an old school rap mindset, they became more contemplative. Over time, their lyrics turned more introspective, their music more cinematic, flirting with folk and rock guitar sounds.
By the year 2000, the indie backpacker hip-hop style had spread over almost all places in the United States, except maybe its Southern parts. Essentially, the most popular form of hip-hop, there, was its complete opposite: it was dirty, sexual, gangsta, and aimed at clubs. It had so few to do with New-York and its boom bap heritage. In the Dirty South, actually, only a handful of rappers in Florida could, more or less, be related to indie rap; plus, of course, the CunninLynguists.