Shafer was raised in Harrison Township, Michigan. In 1987, with his brother Mike Shafer, he visited a nightclub in Clawson, Michigan where a turntables competition was occurring. His older brother was competing against a then-unknown musician, Kid Rock. Shafer then spent a lot of time with Kid Rock, and they became friends. In those times, he was mainly rapping. He only performed at live shows at the time, until he began recording for Rock's album, Early Mornin' Stoned Pimp; Shafer was a featured vocalist on some of the tracks. He then began working on a solo album, but he continued being the DJ for Kid Rock. Upon the release of Rock's multi-platinum album, Devil Without a Cause, Shafer decided that it was time to release his first solo album, Double Wide, adopting the stage name Uncle Kracker.
"Oh, that's my sister's lizard Uncle Kracker."