Corey Wise Talks New Album, Church Planting, & Creative Process
Corey Wise is one of the best up and coming artists in Christian rap. Rapzilla noticed, the CHH community noticed, and the music spoke for itself. That’s why he was named a Rapzilla Freshmen for this year.
The following conversation is a Q&A we did with him.
First off this is awesome you took time to do this. My name is Luc DiMarzio, I’ve been working with NewH2O Rapzilla for the last year and a half. We just wanted to check up with this year’s Rapzilla Freshmen.
Your last album was 4ever Is Now?
Yeah, I dropped 4ever Is Now at the end of last year.
And Infinity Vibes at the beginning of last year… The last single I remember hearing from you was that melodic track you put out in like May.
Yeah, a few weeks ago I dropped a single called “Sometimes,” before that I dropped “I Do what I Don’t Want” and that’s been it. I took a slight break and I dropped those singles back to back.
That’s it! “I Do What I Don’t Want.” Nice dude. So what else is going on? What’s God doing?
Right now I’m working on a new single, “Crazy” that’s gonna drop soon. Featuring someone that a lot of people have wanted me to collaborate with.
Mogli (the Iceburg)
I also have an album I’m working on called Don’t Worry You’ll Be Fine and OB, OnBeat Music is producing the whole thing. I’m working on that. I’m booking shows right now. Just did a show in Delaware for this Christian athletic conference. After all that, actually God’s doing a lot. I’m in the process of planting a church so after this last album I’m probably gonna take a break for a while because I’ll be focusing on launching this church in September of 2020.
Wow, that’s amazing. That sounds awesome. What all are you involved in at the church?
I co-lead the youth ministry with my boy Nick. So basically a co-youth pastor. Nick is my best friend. I also am the director of our Life Groups. Life Groups are our small groups. My main two are Life Groups and youth ministry, but I’m involved in discipleship with some students. I’m walking through a book (called) Discipleship Essentials with a student right now. I’m big on relationships and discipleship.
I actually just posted about this on Facebook and Instagram. One of my best friends who I grew up with, who was with me when I was deep in the world and I didn’t know God… He just accepted Jesus yesterday at church for the first time. So it’s been a crazy time. It’s why my voice sounds raspy today because I was crying all yesterday.
Yes. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what we do this for – amazing. How long have you been in ministry? Did you start rapping out of the fruits of your ministry?
I’ve been doing music for a long time. Probably ten years. Before I got saved it was on the secular side. I tell everybody that it’s not like I’ve been a Christian forever. I only got saved about four years ago. Once I got saved I had to stop music for awhile. God was kinda like “I gave you this talent, but you should use it to glorify me.”
I started making songs and put out a project that’s not out anymore because it’s not really the quality I wanted. I did a single, “Motives” with Jarry Manna and that put me on the map when it comes to Christian Hip Hop. It gave me a slight backbone. From that God just did everything.
I would tell people because a lot of people ask how I arrived. I really didn’t do much. No big promotion, nothing. Everything that’s happened to me happened organically. I just let people know that all my music will point you to Jesus. I don’t do anything to glorify myself. None of it is self-promoting or indulging. It’s all to glorify Jesus. That’s why it took off. I didn’t do anything. God did it. It was all out of my hands. That’s how my story with CHH went. It all happened organically. Didn’t do much but just was myself.
Talk about what it means to you being a Rapzilla Freshmen?
I found out about Rapzilla after I dropped Motives. I ran into Jarry Manna because I did a little spotlight show with Chris Chicago. Then I found out that Rapzilla is the biggest Christian Hip Hop platform so I started dropping stuff to them. One thing led to another and they started helping me out a lot.
I saw the Rapzilla Freshmen list two years ago. You always hear about the XXL freshmen list, but when I found out there was one for CHH I thought it was amazing. That was something I wanted as an artist. Even as Christians it’s good for you to set goals for yourself. So when I got the message from Steve, I thought it was amazing. From a career standpoint that was something I needed, I appreciate, and it humbled me a lot to know that I was chosen for something like that. There are thousands upon thousands of artists coming out and I was chosen among those people.
Can you talk a bit about where you get inspiration from? Your creative process?
Steven put it really well when I dropped “Sometimes” a few weeks ago. A lot of my songs, especially over the last year have been songs of lament. I dig real deep into my emotions. Growing up in my house I had a lot of rock influence. I grew up listening to more Rock N’ Roll than I did hip hop. When you hear my music you can hear the heavy influence of rock music. I love guitar riffs and actual drums. As far as my lyrics I am an extremely poetic person so the songs that you hear, like “Inside” or “I do what I don’t want” even my song “Sometimes” you’ll hear deep lyrics. This is who I am. That’s just who God made me. A poetic person.
I love words and deeper meanings. I base my music off of transparency. Music is a huge outlet for me. I allow it to be my most transparent place. I can put out a song “Inside” that’s about my struggle with asthma and not get judged for it and get a thousand messages back from people who struggle with sicknesses and that song helped them. It all comes from a really deep place.
Yeah, you’re not about to put out like an “Old Town Road.”
Definitely not. That’s the crazy part man. God has given me a good balance of having substance but also being able to get catchy hooks. I talk about serious stuff but the hook is still catchy.
It’s good though. You’re probably able to feed your pastor side and respond to that with the artist side of you. You’re from Maryland, correct?
I’m from PG county Maryland. Where I’m from is Fort Washington. I’m on the borderline of D.C. That’s my area. My church is in Charles county and Waldorff.
I’ve never been to Maryland before so I’m trying to imagine what that area is like. What’s the hip hop scene like there? We don’t hear many artists from Maryland.
It’s not many. When I first came into CHH I didn’t even know. Before that, it was me and this other guy Echelon Knoxx who is moreso on the gospel side. He’s a Christian Hip Hop artist but he’s like with Tasha Cobbs and Kirk Franklin. He’s in that scene. The hip-hop scene around here has bloomed and blossomed over the last 5-10 years but our area is more about this genre of music called go-go. It’s like a cross between jazz and funk, and it’s a bunch of cover songs from different places.
Because we have our own style of music, hip-hop wasn’t really a thing until Wale. Until Wale no one understood that Christian Hip Hop comes from Maryland and D.C. now. (The scene) has gotten way better. I haven’t done many shows in the area, because a lot of people in our area don’t really support their own. But it’s definitely getting better. Just the culture, and more people coming up from this area. It’s getting better.
As a minister myself I know it’s hard to balance life, social life, family life. You have a family, right?
Yeah I’ve got a wife and two kids
For me there’s this tension like “Okay, I’m an artist, I’m a pastor, I’m a family man.” Now I know there’s not really such a thing as balance, because if we can create balance then that would mean that we’re in control. But, how have you found good ways to create good rhythms in your life so that you can create time for your family, your artistry, and your ministry?
This is something I’ve been working on this last year man, which is intentionality. I’m trying to be more intentional with things. When I first started there was a divide in the household and we were on the fence about where the time and money was going. There were a couple of things with music that she didn’t understand. Once things began taking off she started to see what God was doing.
As far as me now making time for everything, I have an extremely strict schedule. On Tuesdays, I schedule nothing on Tuesdays. That’s my family day. If anyone asks me to do something on Tuesday I always say no. That’s the time I spend watching movies with my kids, going out to eat with my family and all that. Saturdays are pretty much the same way. My wife works in the morning on Saturdays so I will be with my kids most of the day and I don’t schedule anything.
My studio is literally next to where I work. So I get out of the building and go straight over there. Normally I will just leave work, go there, record, and go straight home. The thing is that the balance really comes when I’m balanced in these things along with the most important thing, which is my alone time with God. That’s something that I have to be intentional about. I have to be intentional about spending time with family, intentional about getting work done at the church, and intentional about spending alone time with God.
If any of those things are lacking I can feel it, and most of all if I’m not spending time with God then everything I’m doing is for nothing because my relationship with Him would be dwindling. As you said, I depend on God fully to get through all of that. It’s tough at times, but God has definitely been ushering me through it and walking with me through everything.
Terrific, man this is some great stuff. Did you say you have an album coming out soon?
The date I’m shooting for is in the fall. The goal is to put it out towards the end of the fall. There’s a lot of live production in it, so I’m definitely trying to get that out by then. You know, with OB it’s about perfection. We’re trying to perfect all these things and get it sounding right. We’ve got one song done already.
It’s gonna be a 10 track album with two live instrumental interludes. It’s gonna be my most transparent album I’ve ever done. Called Don’t Worry You’ll Be Fine and it’s all about just knowing that through everything, through all the struggles in your life, as long as you trust Jesus you don’t have to worry. You’ll know every time you fall you’ll be fine. So I’ll be talking about a lot of my testimony and a lot of the stuff I’ve been through in hopes that people will be coming to Jesus for it.
What’s it like working virtually with OnBeat?
Me and OB communicate every day. We talk most days via text. As far a beats and all that stuff its dropbox, email, all that kinda stuff. He’ll send me snippets of beats as he’s putting them together to make sure we’re heading down the right track. He’ll send me things to make sure I like what the sound is like. It’s definitely gonna have some rock influence but I’m pulling from other genres as well. That’s just who I am. I’m excited man it’s gonna be one of those albums people will hear and say “Ok now I know Corey Wise.”
And then you’re gonna take a break. Haha just drop the mic.
Man, this is gonna be great. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I just wanna say thank you to NewH2O and Rapzilla. Y’all are making people’s dreams come true. It doesn’t matter what it is. Whether you’re sharing their song on the internet or reviewing their song online. Whatever it is, y’all are encouraging people and helping them to find their potential, find their calling, and use it. I definitely appreciate it man. I’ve benefitted from y’all. I don’t think I’d be where I am musically without you all helping push me onto that platform. God is definitely all over that and using y’all to do so much. Thank you!