Upchurch has been finding the subtle connectors between rap and country long before artists like Lil Nas X made the mash-up palatable to wider audiences. Born on the outskirts of Nashville in 1991, Ryan Upchurch, who performs under his last name, eventually delivered a debut EP, 2015’s Cheatham County, full of humorous rural rap songs parodying “backwoods culture.” In his cleverly dubbed “hick-hop,” Upchurch embraced his redneck persona like a method actor as he described life in the South. With a swing to his voice that betrays his Tennessee roots, the multitalented performer turns familiar roots-rock themes of beer, backyards, and late nights into a swirling concoction of tales equally hilarious and empathetic to this way of life. Over the distorted, crunching guitars of his 2016 breakthrough, “Rolling Stoned,” he raps, “Sometimes I get stoned in my backyard/Lay off in the tall grass, so my view is the stars.” But as Upchurch’s profile has grown, so have his ambitions. 2017’s King of Dixie is a full-fledged rock album, and Creeker II moves between party rap and sombre heavy rock. Once hellbent on spinning rural Southern traditions into clever raps, Upchurch has evolved into a Swiss-Army-knife performer pushing past his previously established boundaries.
BORNMay 24, 1991