Lenny Cooper Interview: Mud, Sweat and Tears
“Mud, Sweat and Tears”
By Christian Cipollini
He was in trouble, a lot. Basically a delinquent just a hair away from something really bad happening. A decision was made; one that he’d have to live with and trudge on or possibly find himself on an episode of cops or worse. Lenny Cooper dropped out of high school not to rebel and get into more trouble, but rather to avoid going further down a dark road he had already been travelling. Finding that ray of hope is a very personal and individual quest. Perhaps not the best of advice for everyone, but for this future country-rap star, well, it worked out. He’s only twenty-five years old, but wise far beyond his age. From a youtube sensation to signing with Average Joe’s to becoming a family man… Cooper’s dreams are reality. Still, as he will tell anybody, being a husband, father, good-music-making, mud digging king from North Carolina keeps his feet on firmly planted on the ground. He keeps things in check, remembering some difficult times of the past, and obstacles of the future. His words of wisdom – “You have to take the gamble and roll the dice, because at least you know you tried.”
Lenny Cooper took some time out of a busy day – which most importantly involved his daughter’s birthday party and the donning of a Spongebob costume in 100 degree temps no less! So we thank him!
You’re entrance in hick-hop was a viral video that caught the attention of Colt Ford. Take us up to that point.
My dad was into Hank and Conway Twitty and stuff like that. It wasn’t until later I started listening to rap. I was probably twelve or thirteen when I decided I wanted to make and produce my own music. Then at seventeen I cut my first song, Mud Digger and it went viral. Then Colt Ford brought me backstage at a show. Next thing I know Average Joe’s wanted to sign me and re-cut Mud Digger and here I am now.
What are your thoughts on the whole country-rap phenomenon?
It’s been a growing process since the 80’s. People were testing the waters but it just wasn’t ready yet. Now with the way country music has changed, it’s coming full force. But I do think music needs their own little category though, otherwise everybody would be confused. If there was no name to divide and categorize, I think it would just be a big confusion. Even with this we’re still trying to find a name. The name hick-hop is growing, and country rap but we’re still trying to define it. Hick-hop may be the thing though. In a few years I’d like to see the music we do at the AMA and VMA, all of us vying for the number one song. The way we’re going now and the fan base we all have – I think it’s going to happen.
You’ve been called a “mud digging king,” so where did that originate from?
Our music is about life, our life. We were always out in mud. My dad would have golf carts and we’d get it stuck and have to break the news to him. He’d be like, ‘Oh man, again?” When I was sixteen, my mom got my first truck. Lifted and big tires, but the computer in caught fire and we had to total it.
Life wasn’t always fun for you though, some tragedy and tough decisions along the way?
I lost my dad at a young age, and it always just messed with me. So I couldn’t concentrate in school, dropped out in ninth grade. I failed the first time and went back for a second try but just stopped and quit because I just kept getting in trouble. If I had continued on that path – I wouldn’t be here doing what I’m doing and I’d probably be in jail. I think things happen for a reason. I quit school and went and got a job in landscaping and saved up and bought and paid for my first truck myself. That was my playtoy. We’d all meet in the Walmart parking lot and figure out where we’d go muddin’ at.
You found a way to stay out of trouble and the muddy pastime played right into your creativity for music, but success didn’t come overnight for you.
It was a learning process. Life is a hard thing. Sometimes fans look at us and think we live the life with no worries. If it wasn’t for my family, ya know they are my ambition. There’s more than a few times I just wanted to quit music. So I keep striving. Like this new album, I thank the good lord for giving me the talent to do this.
Your new album on Average Joe’s, The Grind, is just releasing. How’s it feel to reach this point?
This is a natural high. Stuff you can’t believe until you see it. There were times working on this album that I wasn’t sure if this was it. But kept working on it and the final product was done and this was the best yet. This is an album I would take on the street right now and walk up to a person I’ve never met, whether they’ve heard of me or not, and hand them my CD and say listen to this. Would I have done that with my last two albums? Probably not. I’m 110 percent confident in this album.
If you handed this album to someone unfamiliar with this genre, how would you characterize it to them?
I’m offering them into my life. That’s how I really see it. You can enter into the world I live at. Someone might also live in the country, but it’s there part. It’s all different. I want to let someone into my life. And some of the songs on there are about other people’s life, maybe something I witnessed in a different town, at a mudbog or something. Its things I take in and create music from it. It’s about any way possible to make somebody comfortable and listen to how my life is. What makes it so creative though is you don’t always have to just write about yourself. You have a free mind to write about anything you want, but just try to get it right.
Any big lessons learned on your musical journey so far?
We’ve been touring all year. Testing the market. I can see there’s still a lot of growing to do before I can go out by myself, like in the Midwest. But in of all places, Michigan I had a fanbase. You just never know. We want to go out to west coast and see how that goes. It’s a big gamble, because you could go out one weekend and make a profit. Other times you go out and lose money. You have to take the gamble and roll the dice, because at least you know you tried. There were times I was ready to give up. Now I know I tried and I have to maybe build my name up more, and what to do next time in a new market.
Where can old fans and new find everything Lenny Cooper?
Everything you need is at www.lennycoopermusic.com. You can go to twitter @lennycooper44, Facebook and Instragram. And I’m getting ready to launch a merch line, which will be available on my website.