CunninLynguists are an American hip hop trio from Lexington, Kentucky and Atlanta, Georgia. The group currently consists of Deacon the Villain, Kno, and Natti.
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". 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. 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".
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.
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 with The White Albulum.
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, it featured guest spots from Cee-Lo Green, Immortal Technique and Tonedeff and is entirely produced by Kno. The release of A Piece of Strange saw the profile for the group rise, as they toured abroad multiple times in support of the release appearing live alongside such acts as Kanye West,Pharrell Williams,The Strokes and more. Hype gave the album a five star review describing it as "the best album of the last 12 months".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", while The A.V. Club commented on Kno's "masterful, adventurous production".
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. Produced entirely by Kno, it features artists such as Devin the Dude, Phonte of Little Brother and Witchdoctor, and was described by CMJ New Music Monthly as "a defiant album that questions everything, even the assumed standards of hip hop". 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". 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.
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 upcoming album Oneirology on their Facebook page.
In 2011, CunninLynguists released their fifth LP, 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.
Kno (Ryan Wisler) 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. CunninLynguists would later go on to work with various Dungeon Family members such as Cee-Lo Green, Big Rube, Khujo Goodie, EJ The Witchdoctor and Killer Mike, with the latter comparing CunninLynguists' sound to Dungeon Family "in its heyday".
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,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).