Greek-American rapper Andrew Michael Parks, better known by his stage name Drew32, talks about his career and his dreams in music.
Drew32 began producing, rapping, writing and recording music at age 13. He first gained some national notoriety when his music video “Beyond Me” was added to FuseTV and Comcast OnDemand in early 2010. He is also known for performances at various concerts in Michigan and at national events including the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, and the SXSW Music Conference in Austin, Texas.
Drew32, originally from Detroit, has performed shows with J. Cole, Gym Class Heroes, The New Boyz, Kirko Bangz, Travis Porter, Royce Da 5’9″, and more. In 2012, the Greek-American was one of 18 artists in the United States selected by Billboard magazine to compete in the 2012 Billboard Music Awards Battle of the Bands competition.
He recently released a mixtape with DJ Skee entitled, “Label Me”, which featured tracks with Jon Connor, Royce Da 5’9″, and Shorty Da Prince (of BET 106 & Park).
Drew32 recently talked to Anthony Bowles about his dreams, his career and gaining acceptance from the hip-hop culture.
When did you realize that music was something you had to do?
“I first started hearing hip-hop & rap music when I was like eight or nine years old, but I first made a song when I was like nine years old with the help of my dad. I don’t think I made my full commitment to music until my senior year of high school, because that was the first year that I decided to do music over basketball. I’ve been playing basketball since I was a toddler, and varsity basketball in high school, and my senior year I decided to not even try out for the team, because I wanted to pursue my music.”
How many times do you often get compared to Eminem and how has his style influenced your music?
“I would think that I would get compared, but I actually don’t as often…people usually compare me to Drake or Lupe Fiasco. Eminem has definitely influenced my style, especially coming from Michigan, he was all over the place when I was falling in love with hip-hop.”
What other artist would you say influence your style of music?
“I would definitely have to say Royce Da 5’9″ he has been a huge influence, in terms of how I structure my rhymes and my flow. Kanye West a lot, he makes the dopest beats ever, and that’s important because I also produce my own music as well, and the fact that he has the underground respect as well as the mainstream respect, and that influences me as well. Lastly, Dr. Dre, everything he has done has been great.”
How difficult was it to develop a fan base, a voice, and overall acceptance from the hip-hop culture?
“I’ve been rapping since I was ten years old, and I feel like I still don’t get the acceptance after so long. I’m still building my fan base, and that’s something I’m working on every single day. In terms of my voice, I don’t think I found my voice until 2010, 2011, because everything before that was more experimental.”
You’re very involved with your music, how important is that to you?
“I think it’s what makes any artist authentic, there’s a lot of people that can rap, but it really gets down to those people who can make their own beats, record it, mix it, master it, and do the cover art work…I’m there from beginning to end of a project. Growing up I didn’t have money to pay for studio time, my dad believed in me and purchased some early stat up music software for me, and that made me do everything by myself. To me it makes the music more real, and they can understand the artist better because the artist is involved in the whole process.”
What are three of your career aspirations?
“My main thing is that I love making music, if I can make music and make a living out of it and be able to provide for my future family, then I would be happy. I would also like to get into doing movies, and make my label even bigger, and definitely go on tour.”
How competitive is the rap world, and what do you think it takes to go mainstream?
“I think it’s definitely competitive until you really find your lane…there are a lot of artist from Detroit that are making moves, but I don’t necessarily view them as competition, because their style of music is different. I also am able to encourage them and support them because our music is different, and once your find your lane, you have to further find a lane that is unique to yourself, and just do you and promote your music. In terms of going mainstream, I don’t know, because I don’t think I’ve gone mainstream yet…probably a big budget (laughs). We’re still working at it (laughs).”
How do you balance your Marketing studies, along with your music?
“I’m a junior at Oakland University, and it has been kind of difficult, because there are a lot of days when I wake up and I just want to do music, and I don’t care about marketing or school. One of the important things that my mom has instilled in me is always have a plan B, and even though I believe wholeheartedly that this music thing is going to work out for me, but I realize nothing is guaranteed in this industry. For me to better myself to get an education and better myself is very important to me, I think it will help me in terms of being a better role model for my children one day.”
What’s an average day for you?
“It depends if it’s summer and I’m working on music, or if it’s in the middle of the semester…Today I woke up and went to class, and now I’m probably going to be working on my music for the rest of the day.”
What’s something that you want your music to stand for and what message does it convey?
“I’m not sure if it’s a message, it’s more of the thoughts and feelings of me as a person growing up. I like making music with a positive energy and with a positive vibe, and at the same time explaining my own struggles and telling stories…bringing my life to my music.”
What does your deal with Empire Distribution necessarily entail and what does that mean for your career?
“I signed a distribution contract, and they distributed my single, “I am King” to i-Tunes, Amazon, and other retailers, as well as distributed a music video to Vevo. It was just a single deal, I probably could have signed more than just a single, but my manager and I agreed on just seeing how this single works out, and if it’s cool then we would do some more.”
What would be your dream collaboration?
“I’ve always wanted to do a song with Akon, I think it would be fresh. Growing up I always listened to Akon, and I think it would definitely be dope!”
How does it feel to have a video for “I am King” and for people to buy your music?
“It’s awesome! That’s one of those feelings that are crazy, it reminded me of the feeling every time I hear my song on the radio…it’s just crazy to me. It really gives me a warm feeling inside, that someone is really appreciating my music enough to put money into it, and I really appreciate it.”
Lastly, what can your fans expect from you in 2013?
“Hopefully big things, we’re starting off the year with a great start with my song, “I am King” potentially being on MTVu, and hopefully the rest of the year follow suit. My main goal is to go on tour this summer, I want to get a booking agent and take my band with me…I perform with a live band and I fell in love with that element of a live performance.”
Drew32′s new music video, “I Am King” ft. Jon Connor is in a competition to get on the air on MTV! The contest is called “You Pick the Video that Gets on Air”, voting ends Jan 11th, 2013! For more information about Drew32 or to learn how to vote for his video please visit his official website, www.drew32.com.