As the sounds of country music continues to ebb and flow, coming up with some sort of universal definition for the genre has become increasingly more difficult.

And that’s exactly the way Drake White likes it.

“I don’t care if you are Sam Hunt or Jamey Johnson or Willie Nelson or Kane Brown or Maren Morris or Eric Church…or Drake White,” White says from the back of his tour bus during a recent interview with Taste of Country before his performance at Windy City Smokeout in Chicago. “We all belong here.

"We all live this life," he adds. "Everyone just has their own path and their own sound. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”

Yet, White understands that some artists can face more criticism than others. “I’m more from the traditional side of country, because I’m from Alabama and I love the fiddle and I love the way that records from the '70s sound like—but take Kane [Brown] for example,” says White, who released his Pieces EP last month. “He’s doing really well...those 19-year-olds and those kids that love him can relate to him and what he is singing about. That’s what makes music, music. Everyone has the right to like what they like.”

It’s all about being authentic, claims White. “No [artist] is better than the other,” he says. “We are all the same. The only thing that matters is that what you pour into your music is authentic. Authenticity is the key for me. If it’s not authentic, you can jump in the river. I would rather listen to something else.”

And yes, when you are authentic up there on stage, White says the audience immediately picks up on it. “You definitely feel it when they get you,” he notes.

White has dropped hints that he might be mixing it up himself, just maybe working on new music with none other than Wyclef Jean. Whatever he decides to do, he looks to his audience and fans as a guide. “You actually feel it more than you see it. You immediately see them respond," he explains.

"Maybe its your music that is helping them through a period of time in their life that they need it. You never know what people are going through, so just treat them good—and just go out there and rock it.”

But heck, White himself says he knows that even he sometimes finds himself dealing with baggage and bad thoughts. But sometimes, this can be the fire that brings about even better music for the Alabama native.

“What I have learned is that it's OK to have a bad thought, and it's OK to be in a bad mood,” he says. “It’s what you do in that bad mood and how you get out of it that's important.

"As cheesy as this sounds, going through those struggles produce the best songs and produce the best art and produce the best friends and produce the best strength—and, you know, really solidify your relationships. So yes, it is cool.”

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