Obviously, it’s been no secret that Upchurch has made it his life mission to take down mainstream country. However, he had massive success teaming up with a country legend in Clay Walker. This got me thinking, who are other artists that Upchurch could team up with that would not only benefit him, but benefit both artists? I tried to pick artists who are wild cards or outlaws. Artists who failed at making it into the traditional country mold or have similar followings to Upchurch. Here are my picks.
10. Tyler Farr
Tyler Farr came on strong, with “Redneck Crazy,” “Whiskey in My Water,” and “A Guy Walks into a Bar.” Then his career sort of went the wrong direction, and he hasn’t had a hit since. The thing with Farr though is that despite not having radio success in almost ten years, he still is relatively relevant. Currently he is on Night Train Records, Jason Aldean’s label under the Broken Bow umbrella. That might stop this from ever happening, but let’s look at why it could be good.
Tyler Farr already has appeared on multiple songs with Colt Ford. “Chicks, Trucks, Beer” was on his first album, and “My Truck” was on Colt Ford’s “Love Hope Faith” album. Upchurch is definitely a less PC version of Ford, so it would be a step further than that sort of clean rap, but instead of fighting to be relevant to an entire country maybe try to become relevant in a new lane. Tyler Farr has always come across to me as a real redneck, so why not join Upchurch and appeal to that crowd?
9. Trey Lewis
Anyone ever hear of “Dicked Down in Dallas?” Listen, if Trey Lewis can turn his success from this song into long term radio success, then good for him. But there isn’t much precedent for viral songs like this to the artist into radio success long term, but never say never. However, if Trey Lewis doesn’t make it on radio, why not dip back into what made him famous? Lewis and Upchurch in a room together could lead to hilarious music. “Dallas” will make Lewis have a career in music forever if he wants it, but I think aligning with underground country rap would help him with peak popularity.
8. Florida Georgia Line
This will probably never happen, just saying it up front. However, the band that lead Nelly to put out a “country” EP could lead the charge in bringing country rap truly mainstream. I also think there’s a chance that Upchurch wouldn’t want to work with FGL, so that dynamic would be interesting, but I think they could make some magic. Imagine the heat that Upchurch could bring to “Cruise” if he was on it instead of Nelly. Just let that set in. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think this would be a sick combo.
7. Trace Adkins
If it wasn’t for his newest album, Trace wouldn’t be on the list. However, since then he has released music with both Pitbull and Snoop Dogg. Trace has been a polarizing figure in country music for much of his career, but I don’t think he really gives a shit. “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” is a song that will forever live in infamy as one of the weirdest jams in country music history. What does Trace have to lose by teaming with Upchurch?
It would actually be perfect. Upchurch would gain because he would get another legit huge name on one of his songs. Although it isn’t Alan Jackson like he might prefer, Trace is a respected name that never really had his “countryness” doubted. It might be worth it for the two to go in together on a song.
6. Josh Thompson
Thompson never really had radio success as an artist, but for anyone who knows his music, its fucking fantastic. I honestly think of him as Morgan Wallen, just ten years to early. After trying hard and being disrespected, he gave up and went into song writing. Recent songs to his credit include “One Margarita” “Drowns the Whiskey” “I’ll Name the Dogs” and “Ain’t Always the Cowboy” among many other hits. I think that he could write a good ole hit with Upchurch, something that mixes “Black Sheep” with some of his more country songs. Josh Thompson isn’t the household name that some of the other people on the list are, but I think the quality of this song would be better than anyone.
5. Kid Rock
This is where the list turns into artists, I think who would be cool to team with Church to artists that I actually could see making it happen. Imagine the guy who helped get Morgan Wallen in trouble one time teaming with the guy who publicly said the Morgan Wallen drama was a bunch of bullshit. The guy who has been in trouble with the media at least 1,000 times, yet still has one of the best bars in the entire city of Nashville. The guy has a song called “Bawitdaba” where the first minute and a half he just yells his name. He also did the exact same thing Church did, going from rap to rock to country. He had a few hits like “All Summer Long” and “Picture.” I think a night of Upchurch and Kid Rock together would be great for Instagram as well. I think the rap song that would come out of these guys coming together would be fucking amazing.
4. Wheeler Walker Jr.
This combination would be absolutely electric. The guy behind the songs, “Fuck You Bitch,” “Drop ‘Em Out” and “Eatin’ Pussy/Kickin’ Ass” combining with the guy behind songs like “Rolling Stoned.” I can only imagine what type of music would come out of these two smoking a bunch of weed and writing together. Wheeler Walker hasn’t had music out in a few years now, and, his next album will probably get him canceled the day its released, but it’ll be fantastic. The best thing about these guys is that they don’t give a shit about cancel culture. They aren’t trying to be offensive to anyone, but they don’t have a filter either and will say exactly what they feel. They are almost uncancelable however because of that, they are just going to keep coming back.
3. Craig Campbell
I really think this is going to happen, and I think I created this if it does. Craig Campbell is the definition of having bad luck in his music career, yet he has managed to stay relevant because of his talent. His song “Keep them Kisses Coming” was on its way to #1 when his record label abruptly closed, and the song dropped off the chart. A few years later he released “Outskirts of Heaven” which was easily the best song of 2016, yet the radio deemed it “to country” and it didn’t gain radio traction.
Backed by a new investor, Campbell has the freedom to pave his own career path. His new song “Never Mine” was sent to radio, but unfortunately since radio is just a bullshit record label game, it probably won’t get the airtime it deserves. Recently, Campbell teamed with Cypress Spring and Demun Jones on the song “Take Me Back” which is a fantastic country rap song. Campbell has done a number of other features on underground artists like Kristen Kelly and Justin Lee Partin.
So why should an Upchurch combo come as a result of this? Upchurch recently teamed with another artist that feels like he is similar to Campbell at this stage of his career in Clay Walker. Walker had a few number ones in the 90s, and has had a fantastic career, but his newer music doesn’t sell the same as it did in his prime. I think Campbell also matches this and is a big enough name that it would bring attention to Upchurch’s music. Both artists could receive bumps from teaming up, plus I think the song that would come out of it would be fantastic.
2. Brantley Gilbert
I don’t want a Church/Gilbert country song. Give me a Creeker 3 hard core rock song from these guys. Let’s be honest, no one turns to Gilbert to get a fix of traditional country music, we listen to him because he’s modern-day southern rock. I want to see the two guys just absolutely tear it up. Unfortunately, this will never happen, because of one name, Big Machine Records. Big Machine will never let Brantley do music with the guy who is trying to take them down, so this will have to be a dream that stays just that. If you want to get a fix of what it might sounds like, just play “Read Me My Rights” and “Hillbilly Psycho” at the same time, and then imagine a crossover.
1. Justin Moore
This one was easy and let me spoil it by just repeating Big Machine Records with Justin as I did Brantley. But damn the song would be amazing. Upchurch regularly names Justin in his songs, “Hey Boy, Hey Girl” comes to mind. I think the fanbases between the two are very similar, so it would produce good numbers. Justin is only thirty-seven, so he probably has at least another eight years of relevance, but eventually the radio will move on. This could be a cash cow for Justin, turning into the biggest name that is willing to work with country rap artists. It makes a lot of sense for the two to come together, but unfortunately, like Gilbert, it’ll be a long time if it ever happens. If you want to hear this combo together, listen to “Black Sheep” with “Jesus and Jack Daniels.”