Rapzilla Freshman Hulvey Talks Collaborations & Debut Album Epiphanies
When Reach Records dropped their Summer Nineteen playlist last year, it featured many familiar artists but one name probably stood out to listeners: Hulvey, who contributed the fifth track “Motions.” It ended up being one of the most popular songs on the consortium and four singles and a few guest spots later, Reach Records unveiled him as their newest signee.
The Brunswick rapper went right to work, dropping Prelude and BRKNHRT. He spoke about the Brunswick music scene, how family support shapes his music and more details about his debut album.
What does being named a Rapzilla Freshman mean to you?
It’s super cool to me man. Back in high school, I would submit things to Rapzilla but it never got accepted. (Laughing) I love that it’s coming back full circle in. To be a Freshman is an encouraging part of my story as an artist for sure.
What has been the best moment in your artistic journey and/or with a fan so far? I know things have moved so quickly between signing and dropping projects.
Honestly, the craziest artistic moments have been in the studio, specifically on my debut album. I get these moments of raw, organic excitement that are so memorable. Like I was working on the intro to my upcoming album and hearing it and then listening back to it was one of the biggest sonic moments I had; it was so surreal. Fan-wise it’s been crazy because people have been hitting me up and telling me how my music (specifically BRKNHRT) has been touching them and leading them to surrender.
When BRKNHRT dropped I know that track “Anchor” really resonated with people. It’s pithy and anthemic but you still tap into hardship. Any other tracks that resonated with people?
Yeah, “Anchor” was definitely one of the highlight tracks. People loved “Cold Water” too. To me, it seemed that the whole project was not only received well but God was using it to help people.
Working on my album though…man you’ll see some similar things but also some different things. The heart will still be there and the purpose and message but you’re still gonna be able to play it in the whip on a summer day.
That’s super encouraging. Just because something’s well-received it doesn’t always mean God will use it but praise Him that He’s making your music ministry. You touched on this a little bit but for 2020. What’s in store for you? Talk more about your full-length album.
I’ve been working on this since before I was even announced. I got the vision for BRKNHRT in 2018. I started working on it top of 2019. Prelude was more a combination of different songs I had created. It wasn’t really made with a project in mind. But on this album, there are songs on there that I started way back in September.
All I’ll say is that it’s different than what people expect from me. As much as people may want another BRKNHRT that’s not what God has me doing ya know? I’ll continue to be vulnerable and real but in ways that are different than last time. My sound is expanding.
How has being under Reach changed or influenced your music? It seemed you had a lot of this material to work on so what did it look like to partner with them on this really personal stuff?
For BRKNHRT particularly, Reach helped a ton with the sonic quality of the project. Biz mixed it went crazy with it; listening to it now versus before you can tell there’s a jump quality. Reach also helped with the branding and got it ready for the marketplace. Before it was a great project but now it feels like it has packaging.”Cold Water” was originally supposed to be on my album but they slid it over to BRKNHRT and thought it was a better fit.
Did Reach shoot that documentary too? I love how they’ve been doing that as previews for artists and their projects like the way they did with Gawvi’s Heathen.
Yeah. Yeah. We shot that in September right after I signed…My hair was super long.
(Laughing) I saw you cut it! Correct me if I’m wrong but prior to signing to Reach you had only “Wasted Times” put out. Then “Motions” was on Summer Nineteen. Was “Wasted Times” what first put you on Reach’s radar?
Man, it was way before “Wasted Times.” I was building with Ace since 2017 before I even had a single song on Spotify. They discovered me before other people did which was super cool.
I remember seeing the tracklist for Summer Nineteen and being like “who’s Hulvey?” and then a week later, “Motions” was my most bumped song from that project. Kudos to Reach for dropping hints and for easing you into the family, from The Gift to “Live Forever.”
Yeah, “Motions” is what gave them the green light to sign me. “Live Forever” and “Nothin but You” were all good ways to give touchpoints to fans even though at that point, I was signed already.
Yeah, the “Live Forever” video looked really fun to shoot!
It was easy and it was fun. That’s the easiest video I was ever involved with. Just FaceTime yourself. Then Caleb Natale just killed the edit.
For you, what’s that collaborative process like for you? “Solo,” “Live Forever,” and “New Attitude” are great examples of you entering into other people’s spaces. I’m assuming you’ll have features on your albums?
Yes I will. I won’t reveal who yet but expect some big names. Well, I’ve already leaked out on my Instagram but me and Thi’sl have a song. We actually have a couple of records. So expect that, and expect stuff from me and Torey D’Shaun too. He’s my best friend.
So what’s it like when you enter into other’s spaces versus when others step into yours?
So here’s my thing: a feature has to make the song better. You have to love it. I’ve absolutely loved the features I’ve done so far. I think “Solo” maybe my favorite. In terms of working with others, things have to be organic. Like working on “Nothin But You” with Montell and Becca was dope because they’re friends and peers so we click. Becca’s from Brunswick too.
In terms of inviting others into my space, it’s funny apart from “Higher” with Zach Paradis I purposely didn’t put any features on Prelude or BRKNHRT because I thought the best way to tell my story was just with me on it. But with my album, the beautiful part is the best way to tell the story for some of these tracks is with other people involved. So like this one is more collaborative, you know, and I’m getting to work with people that I’ve always wanted to work with.
For example, y’all have only heard one Carvello collab which is “Mad Today” but we have a ton of other tracks together.
Can listeners expect more collabs with your labelmates?
Oh, you can definitely expect that. Sometimes it’s hard to get every last person because of everyone’s schedules and you want the right fit, but expect for sure me to work with the 116 fam.
In 2025, where do you see yourself as an artist or what do you hope to accomplish?
Honestly, bro, I see myself just being obedient. It’s hard for me to make plans too far in the future (like who could have predicted COVID-19?). But some tangible things are pouring back into Brunswick for sure. That doesn’t mean necessarily moving there per se but I definitely wanna use my resources to help people and just continue to do what God has put on my heart.
Love how we can’t get past a question without you repping your hometown. Talk more about Brunswick. What’s the music scene like there and how has it influenced your style?
A lot of the music is trap music cuz we’re like 45 minutes from Jacksonville. There’s also that country twang though. But people also love melody. Trap music with melodies is fire.
I actually want to do like a tape called Wicktown. Not this year but like next year when the album’s out and we can put out a mixtape and put some Brunswick rappers on there.
Hey, look your already giving back to the community and giving them the spotlight (Laughing). Any artists that come to mind in terms of musical influences?
Josh Garrels is a big influence on me. You can hear some of those influences in BRKNHRT. Lecrae for sure; he’s such a gifted communicator in that his message is always clear and at the forefront despite the sound or shape it takes. Andy’s a huge creative influence. And Montell! He’s a peer but he’s popping right now.