Uncle Kracker Talks Rap, Candy Bars, Whiskey, Falls in Love With Resilient Bourbon


October 20, 2020

On this week’s episode of The Fred Minnick Show, Matthew Shafer – better known as Uncle Kracker – chimes in to chat with Fred over a whiskey flight. As Uncle Kracker, Shafer was rocker/rapper Kid Rock’s turntablist as part of the backing band Twisted Brown Trucker. Uncle Kracker would go on to have two Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, beginning with “Follow Me” from his 2000 debut album Double Wide. In 2002, “Drift Away” landed inside the Top 10. During his visit on the show, Matt and Fred talk about Matt’s relationship with bourbon and whiskey; rap music, his roots and the blurring of musical genres; his COVID-inspired song which came out earlier this year; drinking during presidential debates; candy bars and lots more.

Whiskeys tasted:

  • Elijah Craig (16:03)
  • Resilient 14 Year (39:24)
  • Smoke Wagon 12 Year (45:49)
  • Rabbit Hole Rye 6 Year (53:56)
  • Collabor&tion Finished in Muscart Mistelle Barrels (58:18)


Fred and Matt touch on a wide range of topics, like:

  • Jim Beam was Matt’s first bourbon crush – partly because he heard Hank Williams Jr. singing about it. He mixed it with Dr. Pepper in his younger days.
  • Fred talks about getting old, having “an efficient liver” and his doctors telling him repeatedly to lose weight.
  • Fred talks about the many taxes distillers pay on their products, noting that one specific tax is earmarked for education while another is for roads. For that reason, he jokes, “When you buy bourbon, you’re helping the children of Kentucky. … This is straight up philanthropic efforts.”
  • Matt learns for the first time, thanks to Fred’s tutorial, that whiskey gets its color from the oak barrels in which the liquid ages. Fred also imparts that the finish – how long the flavor and sensation stays on the palate – is the most important part about any whiskey.
  • When the band’s on tour, Uncle Kracker generally is packing Crown Royal whiskey on the trip. Sometimes Jameson takes its place.
  • On making music, Matt said while his first love was rap, he began ignoring genre, just adding all types of flares to his music, from pop to soul to country, “like making gumbo.” He adds, “Genre is only important to people who are trying to sell it.”
  • On his 2020 pandemic-inspired single, he said, “The song was just this fun song I had never really finished. I wrote it with a couple of my buddies.” They were talking one night and decided to finish the song with lyrics about the pandemic, and the result was the single, “No Time to Be Sober.”
  • Fred notes that he makes it a point to no longer drink, or specifically pay drinking games, during presidential or vice presidential debates: “I don’t get riled up, I get depressed.”
  • Fred relates his love of Eazy-E when he was young and tells the story of getting busted listening to the notorious profane rapper by a very hairy principal at his school. The principal calls Fred’s mom and sells him down the river. “It was like I had just introduced Satan into our middle school.”
  • As usual, Fred educates his guest on the ins and outs of whiskey, and Matt admits several times that he’s learned things he never expected to know about bourbon and rye. Part of Fred’s purpose in educating Matt is so he will “never touch vodka again.”
  • Fred then explains what vodka truly is, about its dirty dealings and why he hates it so much.


Matt says he began listening to rap at around age 10, and he recalls watching a late-night cable access show on which he first saw the rap act the Fat Boys and their video “Jail House Rap.” “When they came on the scene, it was the greatest thing I’d ever seen in my life. It was these three big dudes rapping about food and getting in trouble for eating food — I fell in love immediately. Rap music had me at 10.”







No matter what he does or where he goes, Uncle Kracker adheres to a simple, yet rather timeless philosophy.

“I really subscribe to this mindset of just having fun,” he affirms. “That’s what it’s always about. It’s the train that I’m forever on. The way I feel is if I’m enjoying it, it’s really worth doing.”

Now he’s having more fun than ever. And it certainly shows with the recent release of his single “Floatin’.” The feel-good track recorded in Nashville couples Uncle Kracker’s heartfelt, infectious lyrics with a country groove that will keep fans smiling.

Uncle Kracker will be showcasing his tried and true hits along with some new tunes in sheds across the country. His live show continues to get bigger and better with every tour. “It’s very interactive,” he says. “It’s meant to be a party, and I want everybody involved. Each time we go on stage, I want people to leave smiling.”

That outlook has served him well over the years. After vaulting to stardom as a charismatic presence and chief collaborator in Kid Rock’s Twisted Brown Trucker Band, the Michigan singer, songwriter, and performer, also known as Matthew Shafer, kicked off a stunning solo career of his own.

His 2000 major label debut, Double Wide, fittingly went double-platinum and yielded #1 smash “Follow Me”. Its 2002 follow-up No Stranger To Shame reached gold status and spawned cross-format hits such as “In A Little While” and the powerful cover of Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away” which set a Billboard record for most weeks at #1 on any chart, topping their #1 run on the Adult Contemporary radio charts for a staggering 28 weeks.

Before Uncle Kracker flew up the charts for 5 weeks at #1 with “When the Sun Goes Down”, a duet with good friend Kenny Chesney, country music might’ve seemed an odd place to find the Detroit-based good-time Kid Rock alumni. But after a few summer tours with Chesney, Uncle Kracker reached country’s Top 10 with his double-platinum crossover hit “Smile”. Then, 2012 saw him fully embrace his country side with his critically acclaimed fifth outing, Midnight Special produced by Keith Stegall which leaves no doubt this feel-good rocker is exactly where he should be.

Uncle Kracker has played sold out shows across the country and appeared everywhere from the American Country Music Awards to Late Night With Conan O’Brien. He is still having a blast, and fans worldwide undoubtedly will too when they see him on the road.

“When I’m up onstage, I don’t feel removed from the people coming to hear the music,” he leaves off. “You can feel it, when they identify with you. Sometimes when I’m up there, I wanna tell ’em ‘I’m not any different than you are.’”







Manscaped (discount code: SmoothFred, 20% off and free shipping) https://www.manscaped.com/

Michter’s: https://michters.com/

B-Line (Northern Kentucky Bourbon Trail): https://findyoursippingpoint.com/

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Source: The Fred Minnick Show