2019 Rapzilla Freshmen Torey D’Shaun took some time to chat with Rapzilla about what’s going on in his life. The short answer, it’s a lot, and he had much to say about where he’s headed. This is part one of a two-parter.

First off, what’s God doing? What’s going on with you?

God is doing a lot in my life right now. Just as far as music, real life. Got a church family behind me. We’ve been building and just been going through some seasons right now. A lot of ups and downs, but God been faithful and still blessing me to be able to do music full time. So God is just doing… doing his thing right now, homie. So I can’t complain.

Good. Yeah. And your latest release?

The latest thing I released was on Lecrae’s project. (Reach Summer 19) I had two appearances on that and it was my single song “HD” and then a song I was on with my homie nobigdyl. called “Energy.” So I had two appearances on that joint. So it’s been good man.

What was that like when they reached out to you to be a part of that compilation?

It was cool because Ace is like a big homie and so he reached out. It was just like, “Yeah bro. I want you to be a part of the project and work with us.” He told me what everybody was trying to do. So I was like, “Yeah. Bet. I’m in, man.” So we got to work. They were working on songs and started working on different things to bring the project to life. It all worked out.

That’s really cool. There tends to be kind of this wave of collaboration happening across all CHH. I feel like a lot of artists are collaborating with others more than I feel like they have before. When a lot of people kind of just like to do their own thing and hone in on their own craft. But you specifically, I know that you’ve worked with Kevi and some other people in the past… you’re an artist who likes to collaborate with other people.

I love collaborating with other people and personally, I think it’s because a lot of people in the CHH realm, whether you want to call it that or whatever you want to call it, faith-based hip hop community or whatever it is… I’m actually friends with a lot of people I collab with. So like Kevi, a real good friend of mine. If I stopped music today, I still would drive six hours to go hang with him. That’s like my homie to the death. He’s met my fam, all that stuff. I think a lot of the reason is unity. Unity is a big thing in our generation. So I really don’t understand when people say that there is no unity within the new class.

You see a lot of these collabs happening because really the truth behind it is a lot of us are actually friends. We go and we hang out with each other when we’re in each other’s cities. We spend a night over each other’s houses and go through things together. We’re brothers and sisters in Christ. So that’s where a lot of these collabs come from. We might go do a record and then after that go skating and go to a movie. Then I might go to your church Sunday morning. So it’s a lot of the collabs happening because of that, man. Just trying to stay unified and we don’t want to stay in our bubbles too much.

It sounds like the collaborations happen as the fruit of actual relationship, so that’s good. How long have you been involved in hip-hop/CHH?

I’ve been involved in CHH for about three and a half years now. So it’s been good man.

It’s funny. I have to remind myself I’m interviewing freshmen, but I feel like you’ve been around for longer than that man. You’ve got some really dope stuff. Like you said, you’ve been on a song with nobigdyl. already. What’s that like? Do you feel like you’re just right where God wants you and that’s why you’re getting these opportunities? What is that like for you?

It’s really dope knowing that a lot of the artists that kind of already are in that space where they have a big following are looking at me like next up or up-and-coming. It’s really cool man. Just seeing them reach out and kind of take me under their wing. And of course, it’s not everybody but a lot of artists come alongside they give a lot of the up-and-coming artists these shots. So I think it’s pretty cool.

My first actual single was me, Ty Brasel, Ki’shon Furlow, and Street Hymns. It was a lot of us. That was back when I was just just just starting and Ty and all of those guys, they were already on the rise about where I am right now. It’s really cool to just see how fast God got me somewhere where I kind of laughed at it at first. Like I would have laughed at the fact that… If you told me I was going to be on a Lecrae project in three years, I would have laughed at that. Like, “What?”

That’s awesome, dude. What’s the hip hop scene like in East St. Louis? Is there other CHH around that you can bounce ideas off of, and support each other?

It’s very scarce and spread out. It’s not a heavy CHH scene here, it’s more hip-hop in general. The trap scene here is super heavy, and a lot of the Christian hip-hop you see in East St. Louis probably reminds you of somebody like Cross Movement. It’s cool.

To be current, I’m probably the only one in this city that’s like probably… and I want to say that lightly because I don’t want nobody coming out the woodwork like, “I’m putting in work, bruh.” But I’m probably one of the only ones in East St. Louis that’s actually on the come up as far as on the national scale. So I go over on the St. Louis side a lot, and I’m basically just trying to put East St. Louis on the map as far as… God is doing something special in East St. Louis because East St. Louis is just known for sports and being one of the most dangerous cities in the nation.

Can you talk about being a Rapzilla freshman this year?

I just think God has been good. Obviously the speculation… Kevi won the year before me. He got in it the year before me and a lot of my following went to Rapzilla and Trackstarz and a lot of the outlets like, “We thought Torey should have been in it in ’18.” But I wasn’t really tripping or anything like that. It did make me more hungry though to come out the next year. That was a big accomplishment because I think people try to… Obviously, validation is good to a certain extent and it doesn’t make you as an artist, but Rapzilla is known for putting on a lot of artists.

Torey D'Shaun

So that was an accomplishment. That was a heavy accomplishment. It was like a milestone moment because people like Andy have even been Rapzilla freshmen. Pretty much every popping rapper right now in CHH have all been Rapzilla freshman. So you can’t deny the influence of being a Rapzilla freshman. It’s just like a XXL freshman in the mainstream. It’s just nice to know that people see you putting in work and people see that you’re really out trying to make a change. So it’s cool.

Man, you put in a lot of work. You said you already are doing live stuff regionally. Do you go on tour at all?

I’m actually going on tour August 9th with my boy 5ive, with my boy Kevi, with the Young Disciples. I think Plain James is coming. It’s going to be about 10, 12 dates or something like that. I’m going on that and then possibly going to just be a servant, helping hand for Jackie Hill’s PIA tour.

Just like take a chill pill and just serve while I’m on the road with them. So that’s going to be my touring for this year. I’m going to be really busy touring wise with them for this last half of the year.

Where’s that tour headed? Are you heading west or east?

West. You already know we got to hit up Texas. You know Texas is the stomping ground for CHH. We’re gonna be in Colorado, New Mexico. Then we’re going to be in Oklahoma. It’s going to be pretty much just a west tour this time. But the Jackie Hill joint, you already know that goes everywhere. Every big city.

How’d you get connected with Jackie?

I actually didn’t get connected with Jackie even though I met her. It’s funny that I only met her once and she’s from St. Louis. So we got to talk about that whenever I meet her on the tour. I got my boy K. Colley here who’s also a super dope hip-hop artist and my roommate. He connected me with some people in the PIA tour, and that’s pretty much how I got connected. I got a call. They were like, “Hey. Do you want to come out? Are you doing anything?” I was taking a chill pill around that time anyway, so I was like, “Yeah.” The stuff that I’m doing will already be done, so I’ve got to stop and serve. So I can ride around the country on the tour bus and serve.

Stay tuned for part two with Torey D’Shaun next week as he dives into what’s coming next and his spiritual walk.