Big Smo

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Big Smo
Birth name John Lee Smith
Also known as Big Smo
Born (1976-02-14) February 14, 1976 (age 41)
San Diego, California, U.S.
Origin Shelbyville, Tennessee, U.S.
Genres Country rap
Occupation(s) Singer, rapper, songwriter, producer, film director
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1999–present
Labels Yayoda, Smo & Money, Elektra Nashville, Warner Bros.

John Lee Smith (born February 14, 1976), known by his stage name Big Smo, is an American country rap musician, songwriter, producer, and film director. After several independent and minor label releases, Smo's major label debut studio album, Kuntry Livin', was released in 2014 and charted on three Billboard charts. He is the subject of an eponymous reality television series on A&E that began in 2014.

Early life[edit]

John Lee Smith was born in San Diego, California, to mother Mary Jane Smith (née Barber) and father Carl Avery Smith.[1][2][3] His father, who was a veteran of the U.S. Navy, died in 2007.[4] His mother is his business manager.[5][6]

Music career[edit]

Smith started his musical endeavors in 1999, but did not release an album for three years.[3][7] He released Kuntry Kitchen with Yayoda Records in 2002. His next two releases were released on Smo & Money Records, 2003's The Audio Biography and 2004's Monument Society.[7][8] Then, he released another album with Yayoda in 2007 entitled The True South.[7][8] His last self-released album was entitled American Made, released in 2010.[8] Also in 2010, his homemade music video "Kickin' It in Tennessee" went viral, garnering over five million views on YouTube.[3][9] He released two EPs with Warner Bros. Records that were 2012's Grass Roots and 2013's Backwoods Whiskey.[3][8] Smith's major-label debut came out in 2014, entitled Kuntry Livin'.[7][8]

Musical style[edit]

According to Matt Bjorke of Roughstock, Big Smo is one of the foremost grassroots artists in a style known as rural rap or hick-hop, "which blends rural, Country themes and melodies with some rap elements (production and vocal delivery)".[10] AllMusic's Steve Legget commented that Big Smo "combines country themes and attitudes with rap and hip-hop in a style that prompted one reviewer to note 'If Kid Rock and Run–D.M.C. had a love child, he would be named Big Smo,' although combining Hank Williams, Jr. with Nappy Roots might strike a bit closer."[3] Rolling Stone described Big Smo as sounding like "If Run–D.M.C.'s 'Walk This Way' stomped out of Queens and ended up in the rural south."[11] The music on Kuntry Livin' was described as spinning "rap rhymes about working-class values over hard-rock riffs."[12]

Other media[edit]

Smith is the principal subject of an eponymously titled television series, Big Smo. The program, about his life and music by A&E, debuted in June 2014.[13] He appeared in one episode, "Empty Bottles Full Cans", of the Spike TV series Bar Rescue.[14]

Smo's life is featured in episode one, "Kuntry Livin", of CarbonTV's original series Heartlandia, showing him shooting guns, cooking, and making music.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Smith lives on his family farm, the "Kuntry Ranch", in Unionville, Tennessee.[8]


Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions[16]
Kuntry Kitchen
  • Released: 2002
  • Label: Yayoda
  • Format: CD
The Audio Biography
  • Released: 2003
  • Label: Smo & Money
  • Format: CD
Monument Society
  • Released: 2004
  • Label: Smo & Money
  • Format: CD
The True South
  • Released: 2007
  • Label: Yayoda
  • Format: CD
American Made
Kuntry Livin' 31 6 3
We the People
  • Released: July 22, 2016 (2016-07-22)
  • Label: Elektra Nashville/Warner Bros.
  • Formats: CD, digital download
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Extended plays[edit]

List of EPs, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions[16]
Grass Roots EP
  • Released: June 19, 2012 (2012-06-19)
  • Label: Elektra Nashville/Warner Bros
  • Formats: CD, digital download
Backwoods Whiskey
  • Released: November 11, 2013 (2013-11-11)
  • Label: Elektra Nashville/Warner Bros.
  • Formats: CD, digital download
69 39
Bringin' It Home
  • Released: June 16, 2015 (2015-06-16)
  • Label: Elektra Nashville/Warner Bros.
  • Formats: CD, digital download
130 12 7
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


Year Single Album
2014 "Workin'" (with Alexander King) Kuntry Livin'
2016 "Retox" (with Todd Nielsen) We the People

Other charting songs[edit]

Year Single Peak positions Album
US Country
2014 "My Place" (with Darius Rucker) 49 Kuntry Livin'


  1. ^ California Birth Index. "John L Smith, Born 02/14/1976 in California". California Birth Index. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Workin' Lyrics". Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Leggett, Steve. "Big Smo | Biography". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  4. ^ Dezotell, Doug (June 29, 2007). "Edgemont Baptist to mark Independence Day". Shelbyville Times-Gazette. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  5. ^ Mosley, Brian (June 4, 2014). "Rapping on fame's door". Shelbyville Times-Gazette. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  6. ^ 20 Things You Need to Know About Big Smo. A&E Channel. Retrieved on July 18, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d AllMusic. "Big Smo | Discography". Rovi Corporation. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Country Music Television. "About Big Smo". Country Music Television. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  9. ^ Mosely, Brian (May 16, 2014). "Big Smo hits big time". Shelbyville Times-Gazette. Hugh Jones. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  10. ^ Bjorke, Matt (June 3, 2014). "Album Review: Big Smo - Kuntry Livin'". Roughstock. Retrieved June 24, 2014. 
  11. ^ Murray, Nick (June 19, 2014). "10 New Artists You Need to Know: June 2014". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner. Retrieved June 24, 2014. 
  12. ^ Mansfield, Brian (June 3, 2014). "Listen Up: Other notable releases". USA Today. Retrieved June 24, 2014. 
  13. ^ Sara Bibel (May 13, 2014). "New Series 'Big Smo' to Premiere Wednesday, June 11 on A&E". TV by the Numbers, Zap2it. Retrieved July 17, 2015. 
  14. ^ Mary-Kate Dunphy (November 10, 2013). "M T Bottle is About to Get Canned by Taffer". Nightclub & Bar Magazine. Retrieved July 17, 2015. 
  15. ^ "SMO - Kuntry Livin' : Heartlandia". Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  16. ^ a b AllMusic. "Big Smo | Awards". Rovi Corporation. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Big Smo Album & Song Chart History - Hot Country Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 9, 2015. 

External links[edit]