Rapzilla Freshmen Kurtis Hoppie Built Genuine Relationships that Led to Success
I had a chance to chat with Kurtis Hoppie last week. It was a terrific conversation. I’m excited about all that’s happening through Kurtis and One Vision Army.
We started with some small talk. He grew up in Las Vegas, where I now live. It’s always good to have common ground with people. Then we got into his goals with his music.
KH – I went through a season of wanting to go out and find myself. I don’t want to live off of someone else’s formula if God’s putting other things on my heart. I’ve always had a heart for the industry as a whole. For me, I see God in everyone. I see treasure even in people who aren’t saved. The goal of my music is to pull the treasure out of everyone.
RZ – I love that perspective! That’s beautiful.
KH – When I started I was on tour with Bryann Trejo and when we were at a show in Nampa, Idaho I met the manager who was running the show, his name was Adam Haganen. Bryann kept telling me that I needed to release more music and faster. Adam heard and asked what was holding me back. I told him that the lack of finances was making it tough. Adam is a businessman who uses what God gives him through business to finance the gospel. Adam at the time had aspirations to start a record label, so the first thing that he did, he hit me up right away and was like “check your PayPal.” There was $1,000 in it.
RZ – No way!
KH – That was exactly my reaction. No. Way, bro. He told me, “Use that to finish your album.” He did that with no strings attached. Then a week later, he sends another thousand and tells me to use that for myself. Honestly, I used it for merch though. At that time I had no money for myself. That was my last album as Triple Thr33, Mansions In The Sky.
After that we kept talking, he flew me back down to Idaho and I was totally on board. We started building, I got an opportunity to open for Derek Minor. Derek actually walked out and watched my set. Derek started chatting with me that day, and because I had been touring so much I felt like I was pretty good at booking tours. So I helped Derek and Canon book some of the It’s Not A Game tour. So I began to fellowship with them, tour with them and God showed me the ways he’s working in all these different facets of Christianity and Christian Hip-Hop.
It’s awesome to go to a Bryann T concert and see people crying, they have an altar call, there’s freedom there. Then at Derek’s concerts, you tend to see people on the wall who come outside of themselves in a sense and I see freedom there too.
God is working through all of us, but it may not look the same.
It’s amazing that from all of this, it feels like OVA got connected and is able to collaborate with an RMG and a lot of other artists. Through this, I ended up touring with nobigdyl. and Canon as well.
RZ – You talked about your name change. Why did you change from Triple Thr33 to Kurtis Hoppie?
KH – I was ready to move away from any certain persona. I was tired of introducing myself as Triple Thr33. I just wanted to be me.
RZ – So Kurtis Hoppie is your given name? That’s a dope name.
KH – Thank you. I bet you a lot of people think it’s not real. But yeah that’s my name.
RZ – What were your thoughts when you became a Rapzilla Freshman?
KH – I create goals for myself each year. One of my goals for the last year was to become a Rapzilla Freshman. I wanted to meet that checkpoint. Not that that was my end goal like I made it now, but that it’s affirmation from God that I’m on the right path.
It’s crazy because I actually walked away from the clout when I changed my name. Triple Thr33 had a bunch of streams, a lot of momentum back then.
RZ – That’s dope. I didn’t realize you were the same person!
KH – Well yeah, I was a lot chubbier. *laughs*
RZ – You’ve talked about how you’ve been able to connect with all of these artists, while also trying to remain yourself. Can you talk about other people you’ve been able to glean wisdom or creativity from lately?
KH – One of my favorite pastors is, this is probably a little controversial, but it’s Bill Johnson. He’s someone who helps teach me to look at others the way God sees them. Rather than in the way that we see them. If someone is struggling, rather than pushing them away saying, “hey get your life right,” we need to love them even in their imperfections. We need to tell them, “Hey God still loves you and has more for you.”
Also, I used to not listen to any secular music, but the first time I listened to Post Malone I was really like, “yo this sound is crazy.” He opened up a new lane for me sonically. As you listen to my music, I have like 20 unreleased songs right now. I pretty much just go with whatever the beat and God tell me to do. Sometimes I sing, sometimes I rap super technical and skill-based.
I’ve heard a little bit of Da Baby and I like the way he writes and stuff…but honestly, for me being a single male it’s tough for me to listen to some rappers because of the things they talk about. I don’t want those things to affect my mind. I don’t want the things I take into implant some thoughts that I don’t need in my mind.
RZ – That’s cool. Yeah, sometimes I hear a new artist, like when I first heard Post Malone and I’m thinking, “why can’t church music sound like this?” It sounds like you’re willing to explore what your sound could be from track to track and that’s cool.
KH – Yeah I feel like I have a lot of freedom to do that. The dopest thing about OVA is that we have a goal to move in excellence. We want to be authentically ourselves but also be willing to move where God wants us to go.
RZ – Talk about what’s coming up next for you.
KH – I spent the whole last year just building with singles. My next single is “icy” with JXHN PVUL and it’s got a super dope music video.
RZ – You filmed that with Nic D, right?
KH – Yeah he did seven music videos for us. Between me and JXHN, three of our own music videos and one collaboration. I have a song with nobigdyl. on the way, Derek Minor, Swaizy is gonna get brought onto a track soon, working on quite a few other features as well.
RZ – Do you have any wisdom or pro tips you’d like to leave us with today?
KH – Here are the three steps to be a successful artist. I learned this from nobigdyl. 1. Quality – hone in your stuff, get people’s ideas about how to get better. 2. Consistency – drop more than one song a year. 3. Longevity – stay at it, remain patient.
If you do these things, you’ll be able to take care of yourself and your family. The last thing I would add is favor. It takes a lot of walking in faith to make connections, and it’s God who does that. It takes a lot of stepping out in faith to be able to see what God can do. Stepping out in faith and being a willing vessel along with those other steps is really how God can use you beyond being just a rapper.