“It's funny; when I first started I was supposed to be a rapper. Now I'm a songwriter. I almost don't have the desire to rap anymore. I don't know why because I do love it so much, but this time around it was gone for me, I guess.” Uncle Kracker
American musician Uncle Kracker, known to family and friends as Matt Shafer, served as the DJ for Kid Rock and his band Twisted Brown Trucker, for many years before embarking on a promising solo career with his double platinum selling record “Double Wide” (2000), which was co-produced by longtime partner and best friend Kid Rock. The album made the Top 10 on the Billboard 200, marking Kracker's only album to do so, and produced his most successful single to date, “Follow Me,” a chart topper internationally and a No.5 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Kracker's second album, “No Stranger to Shame” (2002), went gold in the U.S. and contained the successful remake “Drift Away” (2003), a No. 9 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. After the third album, “Seventy Two and Sunny” (2004), he parted ways with Lave Records and launched his fourth album, “Happy Hour” (2009) under his new label Atlantic Records. A Top 40 hit on the Billboard 200, “Happy Hour” generated the country Top 10 hit single “Smile” (2009). Previously, Kracker had a No.1 hit on the Billboard Hot Country Song chart with Kenny Chesney's “When the Sun Goes Down” (2004). Kracker's music has been featured in a number of films, including “Any Given Sunday” (1999), “Coyote Ugly” (2000), “American Pie 2” (2001), “Scooby-Doo” (2002), “Sweet Home Alabama” (2002) and “The Blind Side” (2009), and in the television series “Roswell,” “The Shield,” “Las Vegas” and “Melrose Place.”
Kracker has been married to Melanie Haas since 1998. He is the father of 3.
Childhood and Family:
Uncle Kracker was born Matthew Lynford Shafer on June 6, 1974, in Mount Clemens, Michigan. At age 13, he visited a nightclub in Clawson, MI, where his older brother Mike was competing against a then-unknown Kid Rock in a DJ contest. He and Kid Rock quickly became friends and discovered they both enjoyed the Commodores, Run-D.M.C., George Jones, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Matthew attended L'Anse Creuse High School in Harrison Township, Michigan. His father owned an Amoco gas station, where Matthew worked until he was 21.
On May 8, 1998, Matthew married Melanie Haas, his high school sweetheart, in Las Vegas. The couple has three children.
After meeting Kid Rock in 1987 in a turntable competition in Michigan, Uncle Kracker was invited to join Rock's band when the multiple Grammy nominated rapper released his debut album “Grits Sandwiches for Breakfast” (1991). Although Kracker knew nothing about turntables, he was determined to learn the craft and practiced at shows. In 1994, Kracker joined the Kid Rock band Twisted Brown Trucker as the DJ. Apart from turntables, Kracker also provided background vocals, rapped on the track “Krack Rocks” on Kid Rock's third studio album, “Early Mornin' Stoned Pimp” (1996), and co-wrote many tracks on Rock's breakthrough album “Devil Without a Cause” (1998), such as “Bawitdaba,” “Cowboy,” “Devil Without A Cause,” “Rollin' (Roving Gangsta),” “Wasting Time,” “Welcome 2 the Party (Ode 2 the Old School),” “I Got One For Ya,” “Somebody's Gotta Feel This” and “Fist of Rage,” to name a few.
Kracker began his solo career as a rap/rock artist with the release of his debut album “Double Wide,” on June 30, 2000, under Lava Records, the same label as Kid Rock. The album rose to No. 7 on the Billboard 200 and has been certified double platinum by RIAA. It also charted in the U.K. (#40), Austria (#5), Australia (#15), Switzerland (#13), Sweden (#16), New Zealand (#21) and Norway (#26). The album spawned the hit single “Follow Me,” which Kracker co-wrote with Michael Bradford. Released on February 20, 2001, the single peaked at No. 1 in Australia, Austria, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand and Sweden and No. 3 in the U.K., where it went silver. In the United States, “Follow Me” peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 3 on the Top 40 Mainstream and No. 7 on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks. The song was certified platinum by RIAA. The next single, “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” (2001), rose to No. 23 in Australia. Despite his growing success as a soloist, Kracker would continue to DJ for Kid Rock until 2002.
Following an extensive tour in support of his album, Kracker returned to the studio to work on “No Stranger to Shame.” Released on August 27, 2002, the album, which he co-produced with Bradford, peaked at No. 43 on the Billboard 200 and No. 70 in Austria. The first single, “In a Little While” (2002), rose to No. 59 on the Billboard Hot 100 and made it into singles charts in New Zealand (#18), Switzerland (#37) and Austria (#39). Kracker scored another Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with a rendition of Mentor Williams' “Drift Away” (2003), featuring Dobie Gray. The Uncle Kracker version went to No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart for 28 weeks and was used in the video game “Karaoke Revolution Volume 2.” The final single “Memphis Soul Song” (2003), charted on the Adult Top 40 at 35. The album achieved gold certification in the U.S. within a year of its release.
In 2004, Kracker collaborated with country music star Kenny Chesney on the gold single “When the Sun Goes Down,” which was written by Brett James for Chesney's ninth studio album of the same name (2004). The song debuted at No. 40 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks in February 2004 before rising to No. 1. It marked Kracker's first appearance on the country music chart. The song also went to No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Kracker was prominently featured on the video of the song, which was directed by Shaun Silva. The two also appeared together in tours.
Kracker's third studio album, “Seventy Two and Sunny,” was released on June 29, 2004. The album peaked at No. 39 on the Billboard 200. The album yielded two singles with “Rescue,” which went to No. 20 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and “Writing It Down,” which failed to chart on any Billboard charts. The album featured Chesney on the track “Last Night Again,” which also featured background vocals from Bret Michaels of the band Poison. It marked Kracker's last album with Lava Records.
The fourth studio album, “Happy Hour,” was released on September 15, 2009, on Atlantic Records. The album peaked at No. 38 on the Billboard 200 and No. 13 on the Billboard Top Rock Albums. The song “Smile,” which he co-wrote with Blair Daly, John T. Harding and Jeremy Bose, became the singer's first single since 2004. It went to No. 31 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was his second entry into the Hot Country Song chart, where it peaked at No. 6. “Smile” also charted on the Billboard Adult Contemporary at No. 3, the Billboard Pop Songs at No. 30 and the Billboard Adult Pop Songs at No. 2. The song went platinum in the U.S. and Australia. The follow up single, “Good to Be Me,” featuring Kid Rock, was released on May 24, 2010. The album also featured country singer Jesse Lee in a duet called “Me Again,” which they co-wrote.
On June 22, 2010, Uncle Kracker released an EP called “Happy Hour (South River Road Sessions)” on Atlantic. The EP rose to No. 9 on the U.S. Country chart and No. 66 on the Billboard 200.
Kracker's new album, “Cigarettes and One Night Stands,” is scheduled to be released in 2011.