Popular country music is not known for being very innovative. Relying chiefly on a time-honored sound and subject matter, country music is largely impervious to the stylistic changes that sweep across the rest of the rock-n-roll spectrum every few years. Given this, Big and Rich's popularity in mainstream country music circles comes as something of a surprise. Combining country sound with elements of harder rock and hip-hop in what they jokingly refer to as "hick-hop", Big and Rich's novel approach to country music has earned them both acclaim and controversy within the country music community.
While some critics find the country-rap trend (pioneered by artists like Kid Rock and Everlast) unappealing, Big and Rich's flashy, tongue-in-cheek musical style has been largely accepted by critics and country music fans alike. Prior to forming Big and Rich, "Big" Kenny Alphin and John Rich were more conventional country musicians playing with "MuzicMafia", an informal collective of musicians and artists who played together throughout Nashville, Tennessee. The two began performing acts together billed as "Big and Rich", and quickly became a crowd favorite. Their offbeat musical influences and dual-melody vocalization set them apart from the pack, and they signed to Warner Brothers records in 2004 after impressing a WB executive with their eclectic live show.
The duo released two albums in 2004, multi-platinum Horse of a Different Color and the lesser known compilation CD Big & Rich's Super Galactic Fan Pack. The video for their #11 hit single Save A Horse (Ride a Cowboy) - which features the duo strumming guitars and riding horses across Nashville, followed by a marching band, scantily-clad cowgirls, and a dancing midget - clearly demonstrates Big and Rich's humorous take on country music.
Their third album, 2005's Never Mind Me, featured more of the duo's country insanity in songs like 20 Margaritas and Coming to Your City, but single Never Mind Me proved to audiences they were more than just a gimmick act and could sing personal, heartfelt love songs just as well as any other country performer. Big and Rich released their fourth album Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace in 2007. The genre-bending album features appearances by Wyclef Jean and John Legend, and sold over 100,000 copies in its first week alone.