Upchurch is a country rapper who rose to fame after posting videos on his YouTube channel. What was his first song?
Ryan Upchurch, who is known simply as “Upchurch” in his music career, combines country, comedy, rap, and rock in his music. His first single, “Raise Hell and Eat Cornbread”, was first posted to YouTube in 2014.
Upchurch is not only a musician but a comedian, part of his popularity stemming from his satirized portrayals of stereotypical young white men in the Deep South.
Upchurch’s YouTube Channel
Ryan Upchurch was born in Pegram, Tennessee on May 24th, 1991 where he grew up on a farm. He is a comedian, rapper, and musician.
“Upchurch” is Ryan Upchurch’s alter-ego. The persona was created by Upchurch and his friends, then popularized in a series of videos Ryan Upchurch uploaded to his YouTube channel in 2014 that soon gained him a large following of loyal fans.
Upchurch’s persona is a self-aware parody of stereotypes of young, white Southern men. As part of this, Upchurch is sometimes also known as “Upchurch the Redneck”. Upchurch describes himself as a “hick-hop” rapper.
The song would prove to be the key to Upchurch’s success, as both his subsequent releases reached the charts.
In 2015, Upchurch released a full EP called Cheatham County, which reached Billboard’s album charts, both for rap and country. He followed this up with 2016’s full-length album, Heart of America which again reached the Top 30 in Billboard’s Country Album’s chart. The album featured Bubba Sparxxx on the track “Keep It Country”, and sold 1,300 copies in its first week after release.
Upchurch created a line of merchandise known as RHEC, named after the title of his first song, “Raise Hell and Eat Cornbread”. He also released his next two albums, Chicken Willie (2016) and Bad Mutha Fucka (2016) under the label “RHEC Entertainment”.
Upchurch was signed to Redneck Nation roughly around 2017 before he released Son of the South (2017.) King of Dixie and Creeker followed in 2018, making a combined total of over 30,000 sales.
Since then, Upchurch has put out release over release, often putting out two or three EPs or albums a year. He has allegedly amassed a net worth of $4 million. He has over 2.5 million Facebook followers and 500,000+ subscribers on his YouTube channel.
Legacy in Country Rap
Country rap is a mashup of genres, combining country instrumentals and themes with hip-hop rapping styles. As a genre, it has influences from talking blues and tracks such as “A Boy Named Sue” (1969) by Johnny Cash and “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” (1979) by Charlie Daniels.
The modern form of country rap stems from Kid Rock’s “Cowboy”, which crosses the country music, Southern rock, and hip-hop genres. The genre has had a resurgence in the 2010s, and artists like Upchurch are part of that.
AJ Sal from Roast’n’Review, a popular hip-hop and country rap review site, credits Upchurch with helping bring country rap to the mainstream, making it “relevant”. The article goes on to describe him as the “King of Country Rap” and that he “has the voice of a redneck angel”.
While Upchurch is undoubtedly one of the fastest rising stars of country rap, his seemingly right-leaning politics are coloring the impression of the genre as a whole. A 2014 Rolling Stone article by David Peisner states that Upchurch “puts his controversial politics at the center of his music”. For example, his merchandise and clothing often feature the Confederate flag, which has a lot of historical and political baggage.
Despite this, Upchurch claims he has “no problem with any other race or culture. Out here, we’re not raised to hate. I was taught to respect everybody, no matter what color they are.” In fact, he hopes to create unity through the blend of genres:
His political views aside, there is no denying that Upchurch is and will continue to be one of the biggest names in country rap. What started as a satirical alter ego, making fun of stereotypes he and his peers were subject to, has become a fully-fledged music career. How much of that satire remains is unknown, but “Raise Hell and Eat Cornbread” seems to be what Upchurch intends to keep doing.