Carolina Cracker
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Carolina Cracker

Burnsville, North Carolina, United States

Burnsville, North Carolina, United States
Band Hip Hop Hip Hop

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"Affront Man"

By Brendan Joel Kelley
Published: May 18, 2006

Cinco de Mayo's never meant a hell of a lot to me, but this year, when it fell on a Friday, I ventured into the foreign environs of Dos Gringos in Scottsdale for Corona's copyrighted holiday.

Naw, I'm not looking for fights with Scottsdale jocks -- I went because I'd heard that this local rapper kid Carolina Cracker would be doing his "tomato insult" show. The parking lot was barricaded off to accommodate the hundreds of damn bro's and Snottsdale sluts, and off to the right, after my friends and I paid five bucks for the privilege of their company, there was a plywood wall with holes cut out for Cracker's head and arms. About 40 feet closer to us, there was a table with cardboard flats of tomatoes to chuck at Cracker for another five bucks.

He looked like an emaciated Eminem, with a tomato-stained white doo-rag on his head and white wristbands. As some meathead threw the fruit at mach speed toward his head, Cracker told him, "You know what the difference between a jock and a homo is? Nothing. Why don't you go pat your homeboy on the ass, mommy's little champion?"

Dudes were pissed. More than one thought about going around the tables to whup this skinny kid's ass -- you could see it in their faces. At one point, Cracker actually had to remind the crowd that it was an insult show. That's what they were paying for.

My homeboy Mikey paid his money and started at it. As he neared the end of his tomato ration, Cracker told him, "We've come to an impasse -- you've got one of two choices. You can throw that tomato at my face or you can feed your fat ass." I nearly pissed myself laughing.

"That's one of my favorite ones," Cracker, a.k.a. Mike Higgins, tells me a few days later. "Sometimes the best ones come off the top of your head. That was brand-new."

I'd gotten my hands on his five-song CD since I'd seen the tomato show, and the kid's rapping is no joke. He represents his North Carolina roots with country "barnyard style" raps, skills that he honed as a teenager with a karaoke machine in the barn outside his family's house. He's made a few appearances on the mic around town, including at Blunt Club, but as a new father, he hasn't had many chances to be out busting his rhymes.

Carolina Cracker's mostly given up the traveling life that was the genesis of his career as a tomato insult comic. After getting in trouble with the law back in his hometown of Burnsville, North Carolina, and spending 60 days in jail for intent to sell and deliver weed, he hooked up with the Renaissance fair out there, where his uncle was the groundskeeper.

He started doing the tomato insult routine at the Renaissance fairs while in faux stocks, and ended up traveling on the circuit all over the nation -- much like a carny, but Cracker informs me the appropriate term is "Renny."

Once he was out here in the 'Nix (which he tells me has one of his favorite Renaissance fairs), Cracker hooked up with Dos Gringos and started doing the tomato insult routine in clubs instead, which moved his act from PG-13 to R-rated.

Despite the fact that he can make damn good money for a few hours of taking tomatoes to the dome (he tells me it stings good when his insult victims hit their mark), hip-hop is his true love.

"I started rappin' 'cause I was writing since I was 13; I didn't realize I was writing rap songs 'til I got older. That's how I got known, like a local celebrity back in Carolina. The town was a trap -- drugs, killin', robbin'. Totally a country town. Once the cops figure you're gonna do that, they've got your number. I had to get outta town," he says. The Renaissance circuit let him not only get out of town, but it let him bring his MC skills around the nation.

He cites 2Pac, Johnny Cash, and Jesus as elements in his music, and he's totally correct when he says that it's not like anything else out there. "I keep it totally hip-hop, no acting like I'm gangsta gangsta. I keep it country barnyard, exactly where I'm from."

And he raps with a heavy drawl, more so than any of the Hotlanta or Houston sounds that are dominating hip-hop these days. Some tracks, like "Pay Dirt," are slightly sinister, while "Leave" has a slowed-down emotional backbone.

Carolina Cracker is headed back out on the Renaissance circuit for a month pretty soon, but he promises me he'll be out on local stages spitting rhymes once he's back and settled in again. I can't wait to see how the rap show contrasts with the tomato show. Nevertheless, this Carolina Cracker kid is one of the biggest anomalies I've come across recently, and it makes me goddamned stoked that a talented weirdo like him chooses to call the 'Nix home. - Phoenix New Times


Discography

2005 Carolina Cracker EP independently recorded and sold
2007 Jesus & Jack EP independently recoded and sold

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Bio

Carolina Cracker was raised in the mountains of western North Carolina. As a child, he spent a lot of his time flying through the woods on an ATV and also spent a lot his time with his grandpas.

Facing a rough life at home, at the age of 16 he moved out of his mother's house. He was hustlin' to make a living, and ran into some trouble with the law. Instead of staying and being labeled in his small hometown of Burnsville, NC he felt he needed to expand his horizons. He decided to begin working for the Renaissance festival. There he became a professional heckler and traveled from North Carolina to Arizona, Colorado, California, Minnesota, and many places in between. Being on the road gave him a great opportunity to meet and work with all types of people including other music artists, musicians, and producers.

He recently settled back home in North Carolina with his wife and son to enjoy the things he loves.

Influences include Jesus, Tupac Shakur, Johnny Cash, bluegrass, and Grandpas.