The LACS—short for Loud Ass Crackers—have a proven formula for success. Mix 65 percent country music storytelling with 20 percent hip-hop attitude, add in 15 percent rock 'n' roll plus 100 percent hard work and you have a multi-format duo that defies definition and oozes opportunity.
The duo, which is made up of hip-hop artist Clay "Uncle Snap" Sharpe and lead vocalist/guitarist Brian "Rooster" King, doesn't easily fit into any predetermined box and that's exactly why The LACS unique blend of music appeals to America's iPod generation. "When we make a mix CD on our computer, we don't put together 30 songs that are straight country," explains Sharpe. "We might have 10 country, 10 rock and 10 rap songs. We knew our kind of people would like it."
The LACS' unique blend of music is on full display on Keep It Redneck, the duo's latest release. "Our music is not one dimensional," Sharpe says. "We take the good out of rock, the good out of country and the good out of rap and mix them together and create something different. We build from scratch."
Born and raised in South Georgia, the pair met when King moved to Baxley, a rural town more famous for its sawmills and turpentine stills than its music scene. "We call Baxley a big town, but its just now got four lights," Sharpe says with a knowing laugh. "We got a Walmart a few years ago, so we're moving up."
In a town with only four stoplights it's not hard to spot a stranger. "I saw him riding around town and I didn't know him, so I just stopped him one day and said, 'who are you and what you got goin' on?'" Sharpe recalls of his first meeting with King. "We ended up hanging out that night. He pulled out the guitar and I did, too. We've been making music together ever since."
"We figured out we liked the same kind of music and our friendship just built from there," adds King. The pair quickly connected and began creating their musical legacy.
They pooled their money and went into a local studio to record. "We knocked out 20 songs in three days," Sharpe says. "Even the studio guys were surprised."
Sharpe and King pressed the music onto CDs and, along with a few friends armed with CD players, began peddling their album in Walmart parking lots. To their surprise, people liked what they heard. "There were days we'd sell a thousand CDs and come back with five or 10 thousand dollars and we realized, 'We might have something here'," Sharpe admits.
Buoyed by their early success, the teens took their show on the road, so to speak. "We loaded up and went to every small town in Georgia we knew of and hit every Spring Break imaginable," says Sharpe. "We drove all over Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Alabama. Anywhere we could sell CDs, we did. We probably pushed 28,000 CDs out of our trunk."
The LACS recorded five CDs on their own. "By the second or third CD our fans would start to ask, 'When are you coming out with another one?'" King recalls. "That's when I realized that me and Clay could have a fan base. We never thought it would get this big."
The duo is successful because its music is authentic. Sharpe and King share stories about what they know best: country living. "We ain't no gangsters, we ain't never killed nobody so we can't rap about that," Sharpe says. "We just started rapping about down home stuff like riding dirt roads and hunting and fishing."
"We love hip hop as much as we love country, but we were born in a country place," says King, whose influences include Mark Chesnutt, Randy Travis and Tupac Shakur. "We love doing country things, but hip hop is just as good as country. We grew up on both."
While they are no doubt hick hop pioneers, the duo says they're following in the footsteps of the greats. "What we're doing is what Johnny Cash did on 'I've Been Everywhere'," says Sharpe, who counts Cash, Hank Williams, Jr., the Beastie Boys and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony among his influences. "He was pretty much rapping on that song. Charlie Daniels has done it, and David Allan Coe did it on 'The Ride.' That's the evolution of hick hop."
The LACS eventually caught the attention of noted producer and Average Joes Entertainment label head Shannon Houchins, who was working with musical maverick Colt Ford. "We let him hear one of our CDs and he invited us to his studio immediately," Sharpe remembers. "He said, 'I'd love for you to be part of our record label.' We thought about it a couple of days and we said, 'let's do it.'"
The duo has released two successful albums on Backroad Records, a subsidiary of Average Joes. As with their parking lot outings, The LACS have connected with a growing fan base. "Kickin' Up Mud," from their album Country Boy's Paradise, became a viral sensation despite little or no radio airplay. "That's a song we didn't expect to do anything and it's got over nine million YouTube views now," Sharpe says.
The LACS continue to challenge the status quo on their new album, Keep It Redneck, which features the duo's trademark in-your-face musical magic as well as a few new fresh variations. "Every style of music has got to progress or people are going to get tired of it," says Sharpe.
The bouncy and beach-themed "ReLacs," which features Sarah Ross, is a new direction for the duo. "We've never really had a beach song before," says King. "We're all about stepping out of the box and approaching subjects that we haven't approached before."
Meanwhile, the laid back "Get Lost" explains, "Exactly how we operate in the South," says Sharpe. "A lot of guys and girls go by off by themselves and get lost in the woods. Sometimes it's important to be alone."
"Kick Dust," which features Noah Gordon and which is sure to become a workingman's anthem, is about ending the week on a positive note. "The song talks about being ready to get off the highway and hit a dirt road and chill," says Sharpe. "Anybody can relate to that."
But not every song on Keep It Redneck is introspective. "Shichya" is a party starter, while "Field Party" is all about getting down and dirty dancing. The latter song features label mates Colt Ford and JJ Lawhorn.
What began on a street corner and continued in Walmart parking lots all across the South, has now grown to fields filled with fans primed to hear The LACs' latest.
The duo regularly attracts thousands of fans to its show, which have included an appearance at the Atlanta Motor Speedway prior to a NASCAR race. "That's like the Super Bowl for us," Sharpe says. "That's the biggest redneck sport in the world."
"More and more people are showing up to hear us and that's amazing," adds King.
They've come a long way for sure. "Now Walmart is selling our CDs inside, so we don't have to sell them in the parking lot," Sharpe says with a chuckle. He's being humble. What started organically has spread. The duo has been featured in a genre-defining Wall Street Journal cover story and their previous album, 190 Proof, remained consistently on the Billboard Country Albums chart for over a year.
Not bad for a couple of guys that have a gift for connecting with their growing legion of fans. And they're not done yet.