Matthew Shafer (born June 6, 1974, Mount Clemens, Michigan), better known by his stage name Uncle Kracker, is an American rock, country, and rap rock musician, most popularly known for his hit singles "Follow Me" and "Drift Away". His music was more rap rock-based at the start of his career before turning in a more country and Top 40 style music direction on later releases.
Shafer was raised in Harrison Township, Michigan. In 1987, with his brother Mike Shafer, he visited a nightclub in Clawson, Michigan where a turntables competition was occurring. His older brother was competing against a then-unknown musician, Kid Rock. Shafer then spent a lot of time with Kid Rock, and they became "best friends". In those times, he was mainly rapping. He is also known to have gone to L'Anse Creuse high school not the same high school, but in the same county as Eminem.. In 1994, Kid Rock asked Shafer to play turntables for his band called Twisted Brown Trucker. Shafer knew nothing of using turntables, because his brother was the experienced DJ, but still he agreed. He only performed at live shows at the time, until he began recording for Rock's album, Early Mornin' Stoned Pimp; Shafer was a featured vocalist on some of the tracks. He then began working on a solo album, but he continued being the DJ for Kid Rock. Upon the release of Rock's multi-platinum album, Devil Without a Cause, Shafer decided that it was time to release his first solo album, Double Wide, adopting the stage name Uncle Kracker.
Double Wide was Uncle Kracker's first solo album. Released on June 30, 2001, it peaked at #7 on the Billboard 200 album chart and is Shafer's most successful and highest-selling album. "Double Wide" was produced by Kid Rock, with mixing additional production by Michael Bradford. The first single taken off the album was "Follow Me", which was co-written with Bradford, and peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June 2001. The album spent the next ten months on the Billboard 200, and "Follow Me" also had a long chart run. His second single, "Yeah Yeah Yeah", failed to hit the Hot 100 chart. Double Wide was certified 2x Platinum on November 29, 2001. After this success, Shafer began to work on his second solo album, this time with Bradford as producer, and Kid Rock as Executive Producer.
No Stranger to Shame
After a great deal of touring to promote the first album, he began to work on a follow-up album. Entitled No Stranger to Shame, it was released on August 27, 2002. The album reached #43 on the Billboard albums chart. A hit single was released, a cover version of Dobie Gray's 1973 Top 5 hit, "Drift Away". Shafer's version of this song peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and it set a record for most weeks at #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, remaining atop this chart for 22 weeks. Other singles released from No Stranger to Shame include "In A Little While", which peaked at #59 on the Hot 100 and #26 on the Adult Contemporary charts. A third single was released, "Memphis Soul Song", which charted on the Adult Top 40 at #35. A special remix of "Memphis Soul Song" was also released, featuring harmonies by legendary singing group The Jordanaires, who had famously sung harmonies with Elvis Presley. The album was certified gold by the RIAA within a year of its release. Soon after this period, Shafer became good friends with country music star Kenny Chesney and the two began a successful touring partnership together, brought on by the success of Kenny's hit single When The Sun Goes Down, featuring Uncle Kracker both on the single, and prominently in the video.
Seventy Two and Sunny
After touring, Shafer began working on a third album which he called Seventy Two and Sunny. He had completely abandoned all rap from it, and moved onto a pure country sound. This may have been because his most popular songs were all country hits, or because he began a great friendship with Kenny Chesney. The album featured two singles: "Rescue", which only charted at #20 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary singles chart but didn't chart on any other charts, and "Writing It Down," which did not chart at all. Shafer did have some success that year though when he was featured on Chesney's track, "When the Sun Goes Down", which peaked at #1 on the Hot Country Songs chart, and went on to achieve Gold status. Seventy Two and Sunny has sold about 200,000 copies. It peaked at #39 on the Billboard 200.
Uncle Kracker's fourth studio album is entitled Happy Hour. The album has been in the works for five years and has since been delayed over because of Atlantic Records' decision to bring in Rob Cavallo to produce the album right as they were finishing their cut of the album in late 2007. The first single from the album "Smile was released on July 13, 2009 and is currently at #47 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was released on September 15, 2009.