“You can tell when something’s real,” says the man known simply as Big Smo. “You can tell when it’s true. And I think what’s made us successful and gotten us this far is that we’re just real people, down-home country folk who really love to make music. People see that.”
Word of mouth, charged by the Internet, meant Smo could count his YouTube views in the millions before he talked to a record label. Low-budget videos showcasing his 32-acre farm, which has been passed down for generations, is his home base HQ. Homegrown in Tennessee, the self-proclaimed Boss of the Stix seamlessly weaves his work and play, his lifestyle and music on that farm, as compellingly as he weaves country, rock and hip-hop together.
His loyal fans – who he affectionately calls his Kinfoke – had better get ready to share Big Smo with an even larger audience.
The reason begins with the release of his major-label debut (June 3 on Warner Bros. records), titled Kuntry Livin’, a 13-song look inside the mind and music of one of the world’s true originals. Followed by a debut of an A&E original series, “Big Smo,” centered on the country rapper, and it’s obvious this larger-than-life Tennessean has entered new territory – with every bit of the edge that brought him here.
”The most important thing,” Smo says, “is that when we went from being independent artists to being on a label, we didn’t lose any control of who we are or what we do. That’s why the label called us. They told me, ‘We’ll let you drive. We like the way you steer.’ I was like, ‘Cool. I won’t let you down.'”
Produced by John Conner and DJ Orig, Kuntry Livin’ sums up everything that has brought Big Smo to the forefront: the pulse-pounding beats, passionate vocals, electrifying guitars and subject matter that’s pure back-country reality. The album includes the first single, boots-on blue-collar anthem “Workin’,” the country-as-cornbread celebration of roots, “Who I’ll Be,” the work-hard-play-hard life sketch, “Down in the Backwoods,” and the love-gone-wrong tale, “Cover My Eyes.”
Working with Big Smo on individual tracks are songwriters Casey Beathard, Rhett Akins and Jim Beavers, singer Shelly Fairchild, and musicians including Charlie Worsham, Jimmy Stewart, David Yudkin and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Peter Keys.
The A&E Network show, an original series produced by Brownstone Entertainment, is an inside look at Big Smo’s life and career, and the friends, fans and family who share and support his journey.
Called “Hick Ross,” by his Kinfoke, Smo has racked up over 16 million views on YouTube and sold over 150,000 digital tracks. The breakthrough was “Kickin’ It In Tennessee,” a song and video celebration that went viral, helping draw new fans to live shows whose over-the-top energy makes believers, and brought Smo to the attention of Warner Music Nashville senior executives.
His is the story of a country boy catching fire in a digital age, where musical cross-pollination is everywhere. Big Smo’s rise has been fueled by high energy and relatable lyrics, a band with the ability to rock a crowd and the studio savvy to capture that lightning in a bottle. Big Smo owns that place where country, Southern rock and hip hop come together, where the beat rocks the story and the story rocks the beat. An early review put it this way: “If Kid Rock and Run D.M.C. had a love child, he would be named Big Smo.”
W/ Haden Carpenter and Jake Nelson