Country rapper Lenny Cooper‘s last album, 2013’s Mud Dynasty, cemented his reputation in the business, sending his social media numbers soaring by 750 percent after its release. Furthermore, his style of country music, which incorporates rap lyrics and heavy beats, accounts for over two million streams on Pandora per month.
With his third album, The Grind, out this week via Average Joes Entertainment, Cooper reminisces about his unusual start in the business to Billboard. Almost unbelievably, it all started when he posted a song on YouTube and tagged Average Joes label co-founder/country artist Colt Ford.
“I posted [‘Mud Digger’] on YouTube and I tagged Colt. Within six months, we had over a million views, and it caught their attention,” Cooper recalls. “Colt was in my hometown down in South Carolina, and was doing a show. He found out I was there, so he had someone come out and grab me and bring me backstage. He talked to me a little bit, and asked if I was signed anywhere. I told him I was just doing it as a hobby. He said, ‘We need to make that change.'”
Just months later, Cooper was signing with Average Joes Entertainment. He admits that while watching the ink dry on his contract, he was overwhelmed. “At first you ask yourself, ‘Is this for real?’ I never went out label shopping. I just made my own music at home, and put it out there for my friends to listen to. I never thought it would actually be my career, and I would be doing it for real. Getting to experience all the things I have is a dream come true.”
He says the traditional country that his late father listened to is where his musical influences begin. “I grew up listening to Merle, Hank, and Willie. My dad introduced me to that when I was really young. I was about nine or ten when I got introduced to rap through my brother. He bought me two CDs. One was Dr. Dre, and the other was Ice Cube. I had never heard of it before, but I actually liked it. I’ve always had a talent for music, and by the time I was 12, I was trying to write my own songs. By the time I was 16, I was making songs and putting them out on CDs for my friends.”
That talent comes into play with “Duramax,” a cut from his new album The Grind. “It was me experimenting. It features one of my friends, Young Gunner, with the Jawga Boyz. He and I have known each other for about nine or ten years. It’s a song about riding in a diesel truck, picking up girls, and doing the country boy stuff.”
He also collaborates with country star Bucky Covington on “Redneck Country Song.” “That’s one of my favorite songs,” Cooper says. “I wanted to get a country artist that people were familiar with. Noah Gordon and I talked about a bunch of different ones, contacted him, and he was all for it. He put his vocals on it, and did some writing as well. I really liked it and enjoyed working with him. It’s a true country song to me — talking about how you feel about your wife or your girlfriend.”
As for Cooper’s wife, he says that although he loves the road, being away from his wife and children is the lone drawback. “It’s hard being away from my family, but it’s something I want to do because I know it’s going to pay off in the future.”