Rap Artist of the Year 2022

The Beats Beer Bonfires Rapper of the Year Award is truly a first of its kind. No one has ever given a shit about this group of artists. No one gives a shit about Ryan Upchurch, Adam Calhoun, Struggle Jennings, Demun Jones, or anyone like that… right? Well, Church has 642K followers, on his backup account. Adam Calhoun has 733K, Struggle is sitting there with 357k. So again, I ask, does anyone care about rappers like this? This group is a little bit harder to identify. It used to be country rap, but it has evolved beyond that. Nashville rap? Doesn’t work. Southern rap? That could work. I’m not sure what to call it, but these guys deserve to get recognition. Did they ask for it? Absolutely not. But they are a major underground industry, and it deserves to shine.

I also completely fucked something up. Shoutout to Rick Lynn for making the semifinals for rapper of the year. Unfortunately, he isn’t a rapper. Again, my fuck up, so I won’t DQ him. I felt like it was best to leave this up to a top 3 to avoid further confusion about calling him a rapper. He’s very talented and you should go check him out though.

Now, we are down to our top three. Two of them are Nashville natives that didn’t want to just take the country music route. The third is from Chicago but runs in the circles of these Nashvillians. All three of them are also going down different future paths. One is giving up rap to go country, one is continuing to rap but also includes rock and country music on his albums. One releases different genre albums whenever the fuck he wants with no rhyme or reason. Who are these men? Let’s break it down.

Adam Calhoun

Adam Calhoun is an absolute freight train. His music is polarizing because it is often very political. Some people love the symbolism of the state of politics in his music, others don’t. Regardless of where you stand on his music, there’s no denying his talent. He has teased two new projects this year. The first, “The Brave,” is a project he did with Tom MacDonald and is coming out in March. His final rap album will be out later in 2022. Both projects should be massive hits for Calhoun before he moves to country music. His latest video for the song “New World Order” has over 4 million views in 11 days. If you like Calhoun check out some of his older stuff like “Country” and “Die Tonight.”

Calhoun isn’t only a musician; he is a popular as a YouTube personality. His video about Carhartt got 442K views in 12 days. He is super outspoken about his political views and how he sees the world. I very much enjoy these videos, especially because of videos like the Carhartt one. I own about 90% Carhartt and I can’t afford to get rid of all my clothes, but Calhoun can, and he did. He also challenges lots of common themes in the world. He’s attacked racism, white privilege, and the double standards of free speech on social media. He isn’t crazy though; he’s calculated and uses a real-life example of things. I would very much enjoy seeing him in a debate with a lib because he would be very impressive and well-spoken.

Jelly Roll

Jelly Roll is going in a different direction than Calhoun. I would argue that he has done the most for his brand in the past few years and has come into his own. Jelly Roll came up as more of a rapper but lives in Nashville and often writes with country industry people. He also currently has a rock song “Dead Man Walking” climbing the charts. Unlike Upchurch though, he doesn’t release different albums for different genres. His album is a huge melting pot, a sign of genres dying. Jelly Roll has been a recurring guest on “Bussin’ with the Boys” and the “Just Being Ernest” podcasts. This has helped him reach new audiences. He is super raw and unfiltered, he doesn’t hide his inner struggles and on the mic, he talks effortlessly.

Back to the music, Jelly released “Ballads of the Broken” in 2021. The album has some smashes on it, “Walking” “Son of a Sinner” and “Over You” included. This album is becoming a game-changer for him, as it has taken him to the radio, the Grand Ole Opry, and on a major tour. Jelly Roll is coming, and if he doesn’t win this year, he should be in contention for years to come.

Upchurch

Ryan Upchurch is a force like Calhoun but for different reasons. Like Calhoun, he is a YouTube figure. Unlike Calhoun, he only dabbles in politics from time to time. Instead, he often talks about the music industry. He recognizes that the industry fucks over young artists and is on a mission to bring it down. Will he? Maybe, but either way, he has at least brought light to it. He is a little more of a personal blogger than Calhoun, so his other videos talk about some of the bullshit in his life he deals with.

As for the music, he crushed it last year. He released “Mud to Gold” in early 2021. The album had the songs “Mud to Gold,” “My Yard,” and “Gas” on it. He then released a very hyped country album in the summer. “Same Ol,” “Real Country,” and “Trade Gettin Drunk” are the biggest songs on that album. To finish off the year he released a remixed video for the song “Broadway Girls” with Chase Matthews. The song got released by Lil Durk and Morgan Wallen the week before. Upchurch was going to release the song anyway, but Wallen ignored Church one night on the town, so he released it sooner as a fuck you. The video has over 6 million views on it in about a month. At first, I wasn’t a huge fan. But after listening to it a few times, it might be better than the Wallen version.

Winner

Congratulations to Ryan Upchurch for winning the first-ever Beats Beer Bonfires rapper of the year award! Church is the first big name in country rap. Despite Calhoun and Jelly Roll coming on hot the past few years, they still haven’t surpassed Ryan. The coolest part of this award is the three guys are all friends. They all support each other, have much with each other, and won’t give a fuck that I even wrote this article. But I did anyway, and we are happy to announce Ryan Upchurch as the first-ever rapper of the year!

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10 Artists Upchurch Should Team Up With

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.”

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The Ryan Upchurch News Roundup

One of our favorite artists at this site is Ryan Upchurch, obviously. We have posted a bunch of articles about him, like this one and this one, from songs to things he has said; however, recently, we have been sort of quiet on him. To recover from this, I decided to do an entire Upchurch roundup on his life and everything he has come out with in the past few months.

Innocent

           If you don’t know, Upchurch and ex-girlfriend Nicole Arbour went to court because she was accusing Upchurch of harassing her. The story stemmed from Upchurch being at her apartment and getting into an argument with her. He stormed out, forgetting his wallet. He claims that he attempted to retrieve the wallet from Arbour for the next four days, but she refused to return it. At that point, Upchurch got the police involved. Arbour claimed she feared for her life and filled for a protective order, which eventually got denied. 

Documentary

           Even though I admit I haven’t watched it yet, Church released a documentary called “The Holler Boy: The Rise of Ryan Upchurch” to YouTube. The documentary, which has over 1.2 million views, runs two hours and features interviews from his mom, friends of the rapper, and of course, Ryan himself. Overall, the documentary has a lot of great reviews, so go check that out if you want to know the history of Ryan. 

The Record Label

           Upchurch announced that he signed Chase Matthews to “Holler Boy Records,” his newest endeavor. Chase Matthews is sort of a chip off the old block in relation to Upchurch, releasing music that blurs the lines between country and hip-hop. The first song they did together, “This Side of Town,” is an absolute smash. Go check out Chase now!  

Country Album 

           Finally, something I can talk much more about. Upchurch released the album “Same Ol Same Ol” recently, and it fucking slaps. The album touches on a bunch of different topics, including his usual middle finger to record labels and haters. It also talks about growing up in the shadows of Nashville, pokes fun at pop country, and even features a living legend with Clay Walker. 

           The album has also spun out a bunch of music videos. “Black Sheep,” “Real Country,” and “Same Ol Same Ol” have all had videos released. Personally, the video for “Same Ol” is the best, but they are all worth watching. 

New Rap Song 

           Another rap album might be on the way at some point soon, as Church has released a new song and video for “Look At These Dudes.” The album cover is actually pretty cool, as he is standing in front of an army green camo Lamborghini that he bought as a fuck you to record labels. The song has a video, which features his creepy little wooden doll friend that he has had in his Instagram stories. 

           So now we’re all caught up on the newest and latest on Upchurch. He has been pretty busy with music, and as mentioned, I think a rap album could be coming, probably early next year. I also still expect a rock album; a new “Creeker” might very well be the new album on track to come out. Upchurch does things his own way, being unpredictable and releasing music as he feels it is a good time. He won’t stick to schedules or do what “he should.” Hopefully, there’s a lot more exciting news around Ryan Upchurch to come. 

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Craig Campbell Wants to Work With Upchurch

           Country rap is getting big, and we have already seen some significant names in mainstream country jumping onto the trend. Upchurch teased that he was working with a major country legend, and he didn’t disappoint when he released a song with Clay Walker. Another artist with multiple number one hits is working his way into the genre as well. A few weeks ago, Craig Campbell posted a story calling on Upchurch to do a song with him.

           For those who don’t know, Craig Campbell is one of the most underrated artists who never really had radio success, as his top song topped out at number nine on the airplay chart. However, his lack of airplay success doesn’t mean he doesn’t make fantastic music. His song “Fish” plays off the idea of a guy and a girl wanting to fuck, but instead, he throws a spin zone in the lyric and says fish instead. The song starts with…

“The first time we did it, I was scared to death,

she snuck out in that cotton dress,

jumped on in, and we drove to the lake,

put her hand on my knee and said I can’t wait,

I had everything we needed in the bed of my truck,

turns out my baby loves to… Fish.”

           This was the song that I learned about Craig Campbell from and not the only funny song he has. Another song like “Fish” is “Topless,” which I’m sure you can imagine. He does have a serious side though, “Family Man” was his debut single, and “Outskirts of Heaven” is one of the best country songs ever written, like fucking ever. Campbell has been well underappreciated by the radio, but that might not be such a bad thing because of some of the music he has coming out now. Since the end of last year, Campbell has periodically dropped some songs, including “All My Friends Drink Beer,” “Flyin’ My Country Flag,” and his most recent song, “Good Things Come to Those Who Drink.” The thing is, the dude is just way too fucking country for 2021. He makes music that 90s country singers would hear and probably enjoy, not the Maren Morris crap on the radio right now. He is getting punished for being traditional.

           So where does an artist like Campbell go when he gets fucked over repeatedly by country radio but has way too much talent to pack it in and call it a career? Why not team up with rappers? Well, in 2016, Campbell teamed up with The Lacs to release the song “Back to Georgia.” More recently, he teamed up with Cypress Spring and Demun Jones for the song “Take Me Back,” which is an absolute monster of a song. Let me just be clear, Campbell isn’t a rapper, but he adds traditional sounds to the country rap we know and love. He isn’t trying to be someone he isn’t but instead trying to join a genre on the rise when the one he loves has repeatably let him down.

           Now with all of that information in mind, that brings us to now. Craig Campbell tagged Upchurch in a story a few weeks ago. I think that would be absolutely fantastic if the two worked together. Upchurch has consistently pushed to destroy labels and mainstream music, so to have artists in “that world” wanting to work with you is a major win for Upchurch. This marriage between the two seems just so perfect. The best part is that it could work two ways. Upchurch could have Campbell on a rap song, like “Take Me Back,” or the two could duet on a country song. Either way, this needs to happen; I’m starting the #UpchurchCampbell now, or whatever it has to be for this to work. Until that happens, here are some music videos from the one and only Craig Campbell.

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2021 Bar Fight Bracket

Here we are, the first debate in Beats, Beer, and Bonfire’s history. We all know that it’s March, and everyone makes brackets for everything, so who are we to be an exception. Unlike other brackets, though, we do one that we think people will actually give a shit about. Country music singers should handle themselves at a bar, but most of them can’t. I don’t think that chart-toppers like Dan and Shay or Sam Hunt would throw hands in a bar, but the old-school rednecks of country music past are a totally different story. On top of not being country at all anyway, they are more Hollywood and pop than gritty country artists. I genuinely like all of the artists in this bracket, and I think they all make fantastic music, which was not a qualifier. If someone had listed Sam Hunt, he would be on the bracket, but obviously, no one thinks he is tough.

I made an Instagram poll and asked people who they thought would win a bar fight to start this bracket. Conveniently enough, 12 artists were nominated, so it was easy to put a bracket together. These artists come from different backgrounds, from more radio-focused names like Morgan Wallen and Tyler Farr to Texas country master Cody Johnson to rap artists Upchurch and Adam Calhoun. We even have women in the bracket, as Carrie Underwood might not be known as the toughest chick, but she did grow up on a farm and has mom instincts. I think that if any modern female artist got nominated, it would behave to be her.

The first round of the bracket had eight artists, while four artists had byes. This means round two had eight artists, round three had four, and round four was the finals. To determine the matchups each round, I put each artist’s name on a wheel. I then had another wheel with the appropriate number of numbers on it. I spun the wheel with the artist’s name, followed by the number. In round one, numbers one through four received the byes into round two. Then in the following rounds, the wheel was spun again. I went through all of this trouble because I wanted it to be random and unbiased throughout the tournament. It also led to some exciting matchups, which can be seen below.

Round 1

Round 1 featured some exciting matchups and a few upsets right off the bat. The artists that received byes were Brantley Gilbert, Trace Adkins, Trey Lewis, and Cody Johnson. Artists like Gilbert and Adkins are favorites in this tournament and didn’t really need help. However, Trey Lewis, who isn’t a household name, and Cody Johnson, who isn’t nearly as physically big as some other contenders, might have benefited from the early advantage. The rest of the matchups are as follows…

Carrie Underwood 28% vs. Hank Williams Jr. 72%

           The first matchup, Underwood vs. Williams Jr, I didn’t think would be much of a discussion. I think Carrie Underwood might have gotten a boost against most people due to being the lone female, but it’s hard to vote against a legend. The one argument that could be made is that Carrie Underwood is a super athletic 38-year-old, and Hank is 71 years old who has spent more of his life at a bar than at a gym. Personally, I would expect Underwood to be able to beat Hank. Still, I didn’t expect the majority to agree with me. At the end of the day, Hank Williams Jr. took this matchup by a considerable margin. I think we will see the trend throughout this tournament that people are voting on legends like they are in their prime. That isn’t necessarily the way I intended this bracket to go. Still, at the same time, I didn’t really make rules, so it was up to interpretation. 

Morgan Wallen 81% vs Tyler Farr 19%

           In my opinion, the first upset of the tournament, I expected Tyler Farr would take Morgan Wallen down. Honestly, if this fight actually happened, I would still expect Farr to win. Still, Morgan Wallen has a considerable following, so I think his fans stepped up this round. Not that I don’t think Morgan Wallen is a tough dude, and I’m sure he has been in a bar fight or two in the past based on his drinking habits, but I don’t think he would beat Farr. Regardless my opinion doesn’t matter. The people have spoken, so Morgan Wallen will move on round to, and really the voting wasn’t even close.

Adam Calhoun 51% vs. Toby Keith 49%

           In the best matchup of round one, Adam Calhoun was pitted up against the man who admits he is only as good once as he ever was, Toby Keith. Adam Calhoun has gone to jail for aggravated assault, which I would’ve assumed gave Calhoun a massive advantage, but I was wrong. Toby Keith made it close, and for about 22 of the 24 hours, the two went back and forth; in hour 23, they were tied. At the last minute, one final person gave Adam Calhoun the nod. This was a crazy close poll, and I hope this isn’t the last one like this. 

Randy Houser 37% vs. Ryan Upchurch 63%

           The final matchup started very similar to the Calhoun vs. Keith matchup. Both of them were back and forth,  as I would check one minute and see Upchurch winning, but the next minute Randy Houser would pull ahead. However, about halfway through, Upchurch started to pull away from Houser. I think physically, I would take Randy Houser, but Upchurch just has a dog in him that I think would overcome Houser. Again in a super close pull, the general public agreed with me as Upchurch pulled ahead and moved onto round two.

Round 2

           Round two saw every artist who received a bye in round one facing off against a last-round winner. I think that we might see some close matchups again. Looking at these matchups, I believe I know who would win in real life, but this isn’t reality, and the underdogs with big fanbases have been showing up. Also, Adam Calhoun himself voted on all of these polls, so we will let you know what he voted as we go. Without further ado, round 2 results… 

Cody Johnson 31% vs. Hank Williams Jr. 69%

           The Texas cowboy went up again, Bocephus, and based on the last round, I wasn’t surprised by the outcome. I voted for CoJo because, again, he’s a 33-year-old cowboy going up against a 71-year-old legend who, let’s be honest, isn’t exactly in fighting shape. However, like I’ve said before and will probably say again, I didn’t make rules, and I think many people are picking Hank Jr. in his prime, so that is why he took down Cody Johnson. As for Adam Calhoun, he was on the winning side as he voted Hank Jr. to win.

Trey Lewis 21% vs. Adam Calhoun 79%

           This is an interesting one, and not because of the results. This is the first poll so far is the first time that BOTH of the guys voted for themselves. Trey Lewis and Adam Calhoun each picked themselves to win, which led me to put up a poll asking them if it was time to put on the gloves. Neither replied to that, which is a little unfortunate, but probably better off for Lewis. I still am siding with the guy who literally has gotten arrested for aggravated assault, and I think that I will until the end. Most people agreed with me, and Calhoun moves onto the semifinals.

Morgan Wallen 38% vs. Brantley Gilbert 62%

           This is the matchup that I was the most nervous about. I think everyone knows who would win the fight. Brantley Gilbert would absolutely dominate Morgan Wallen. I’m sorry, Morgan, I like you, but damn son, you would go down. I think that Wallen still was being voted on by fans, but it just isn’t happening. Adam Calhoun agrees with me, as he voted for Gilbert as well. Brantley Gilbert will be moving on into the semifinals, and I think he has a legitimate shot at making the finals.

Ryan Upchurch 53% vs. Trace Adkins 47%

           Last round, Upchurch and Randy Houser were both close for a lot of the poll, until closer to the end when Upchurch pulled away and took a commanding lead. This one was almost the opposite of when Upchurch was out to a massive lead before Trace came surging back. However, it was too little too late, as Upchurch held off the charge and won this fight. Adam Calhoun had his boys back, so he ended up picking perfectly this round.

Round 3

           I don’t expect this round to produce any close results. Nothing against Upchurch, but I think that people realize that Calhoun is just a physically bigger human, which will propel him to the win. On the other side, Hank Jr. has taken out Carrie Underwood and Cody Johnson, who aren’t exactly known for putting off fighter vibes. I think that if we don’t see a Brantley Gilbert, Adam Calhoun finale, it would be a shock. However, I don’t want to count out Hank Williams Jr.

Ryan Upchurch 54% vs. Adam Calhoun 46%

           Well, I guess I got the first part of my shocker. When I went to bed last night, Calhoun was leading Upchurch by a few votes. I wasn’t ready to call it, but when I woke up, and the lead changed, I was shocked. Upchurch received a streak of at least ten votes in a row, which took him from down four to up six votes. I would be interested to see this fight in real life because as much as I love Upchurch, I wouldn’t be putting money on him. Maybe this came down to a popularity contest a little bit, but that’s the risk you run with a public poll. Well, congratulations are in order for Ryan Upchurch and welcome to the finals.

Brantley Gilbert 38% vs. Hank Williams Jr. 62%

           The other matchup, and the other upset, in my opinion, in the semifinals. Again, just like the first matchup, Brantley Gilbert led for well over half of the time. However, Hank overcame Gilbert last night and into this morning to move onto the finals. I personally looked at this bracket like it was a 71-year-old man vs. Brantley Gilbert, but I think most people were voting for vintage Hank, and he took it. The final round will feature a legend and the biggest name in country rap.

The Finals

           It all comes down to this. Two men have bested the other ten artists in the bracket. Upchurch had the tougher road to get here and really never beat anyone by a large margin. He took down Randy Houser, Trace Adkins, and Adam Calhoun in his path to the finals. On the other hand, this might be Hanks’s biggest challenge, as he had Carrie Underwood, Cody Johnson, and Brantley Gilbert. The first two aren’t exactly known for their hillbilly bar fight vibes, so it wasn’t much of a shocker that he went past them. Brantley Gilbert was my favorite in the previous matchup, but Hank proved that he still has the following to pass the artist. I’m excited to see this final round, I would have to say Upchurch has the edge, but I have slept on Hank enough and don’t want to anymore. I think it is a 50-50 tossup but let’s see how it goes!

Ryan Upchurch 33% vs. Hank Williams Jr. 67%

           I can’t say I’m surprised by the result, but I can say the split was much bigger than I expected. I expected this to be at least a 45 to 55 percent amount, but Hank didn’t even give Upchurch a chance. From the beginning to the end, Hank took a quick lead and never looked back. With that being said, congratulations on Hank Williams Jr. on being the first-ever Beats Beer and Bonfires Bar Fight Champion!

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First Wheeler Walker Jr. and now Upchurch apologizing?!?!?!

For lack of a better term, Upchurch is a smartass. That’s why we love him, though, because he does shit to rile people up while making his followers laugh. One of his latest videos, named “My apology video…” is a prime example of this. Released on February 18th, the video is meant to be a spoof of Morgan Wallen’s apology on Instagram for saying the N-word. He first talks about the situation and talks about how Nashville is turning soft. Nashville was always an outlaw city, but now it is a pc city.

He doesn’t defend Morgan Wallen for saying the N-word. He does, however, say that he thinks the situation was blown out of proportion; Upchurch says that “cancel culture” people are treating black people worse than presumed “racists” because they are telling the entire black community how they should feel. He says that he has many black friends, and none of them give a shit about what Morgan Wallen said.

           Upchurch then further talks about the Dixie Chicks dropping their name to the Chicks and saying that dixie is just where they are from. It isn’t a racist word but a geographic location. He takes a few jabs at Luke Combs, talking about how he is a sellout and how his reps told Upchurch to take down the “Outlaw” video because it put Combs in a room with the confederate flag. Combs has been outspoken about how he was uneducated about the flag and has apologized for it before cancel culture got to him. He also dropped the bomb about how Combs got his record deal. After all, the music industry offered it to them in exchange for not being around the confederate flag anymore; Combs took the deal, Upchurch didn’t. I think that the link between Luke Combs and Ryan Upchurch is fascinating. Even though Combs wants to shake it, it is remarkable that country music’s most prominent name right now started with a feature on a rap song just a few years ago.

Upchurch cannot be changed or manipulated, no matter the power behind it. Overall, it seems more artists should push back like Upchurch has and stand their ground where they can. That may be dependent on big record labels taking complete control of the content we listen to daily. Upchurch released the album “Mud to Gold” last week, and the album was number one on iTunes up until last Friday. He has a following, and even though his actions and beliefs get him labeled as a bad guy, Upchurch brings honesty and insight well beyond his years. He will be ignored by many, but he isn’t going anywhere, which is a testament to his own hard work. Check out “Mud to Gold” on iTunes and the full video below.

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