adriansings – Making Waves In The Current CHH Climate (Interview)
adriansings shares about his musical journey, as well as a sneak peek at new music releasing soon
When I heard adriansings’ album “1995” I was intrigued. There was a lot of creativity throughout that project, a great mix of melodies and bars, and really nice features. It was a project I reviewed on the Bar Exam, and there were quite a few bright spots that I really enjoyed. I always know there’s more to the artist than just the product they release. So, I reached out to Adrian immediately and asked him if I could pick his brain about things such as creative process, and his goals for his hip-hop career. I found that this is someone who has a lot of skill as well as drive, and a unique insight to what is appealing about the current state of the CHH culture. I really dig what he’s doing, so I’m excited for others to hear more about him.
Luc (NH2o) : Adrian, bro thank you for taking time to chat. I’m sure a lot of people will be interested to hear about you.
adriansings : Thank you for taking time to do this. These last few months has been a great time of linking with different artists. I’ve been on the hush-hush about some of these new things, new opportunities. NewH2o have been great supporters for me. Quite a few years ago I was releasing music under the name “Adrian Gonzalez”, and even before that I was doing music as “Crossover.” I had no real aim, I was just doing what I thought sounded good. I never thought about making it a career but I started seeing success with it. I won a competition to open up for Lecrae when he came through Columbia one year, but that opportunity fell through. To see that stuff come about through the strength of community was really cool.
When I went off to college, I took a 4 year hiatus from music. But recently I got back into CHH. Honestly, just from listening to it, I became a fan again. I love the direction that certain people are taking in this industry, and so I decided to take a shot once again. I reached out to an old friend, Joey Vantes, and asked his thoughts on some music that I had been working on, and he encouraged me. He said I hadn’t lost a step. That first song I shared with him ended up being “Thirsty” from my 1995 project. I’ve kinda had some momentum from that. I still don’t really know the right steps to take, I’m just taking as many steps as I can!
NH2o : When did you get involved in hip hop? What made you decide to take a step back from music?
adriansings : Growing up, my dad would play dcTalk in the car. And later, I listened to Flame, T-Bone, Tobymac, Diverse City, that type of stuff. I was always fascinated about artists who would rap about Christianity. I hadn’t heard anything like it. Other than the music my friends showed me like 2pac, Snoop, 50 Cent, I really never heard anything like CHH. I got both sides of the spectrum at a young age. I appreciated the artistic value in both and it wasn’t long before I tried my hand at it as well. It kinda began as a joke, when I did a cover of a Drake song for my youth ministry. Eventually it caught on and I began to pursue it a little harder. I joined a group called F.A.M. and befriended Joey Vantes (then Dorian Gray). We really hit it off and even stayed in touch throughout that time. This was in 2012.
I decided to step away from music. It was a product of where I was in life, the people I had been hanging around with. When I got a job as a server my nights became a lot longer, and in the morning I would just sleep in. I sort of lost my identity in this time. My dad was a pastor, and I hated living in his shadow. I love my dad, but at this time in my life I felt like I wasn’t ever able to be my own person. I was known as “Pastor Mike’s son.” I wanted to be Adrian, I wanted to be me. I found a false sense of identity in the partying, the drinking, and messing around with girls. This lead me down a dark path in life, a path where I didn’t want to be. Through all this, I was still doing CHH but I started to feel really fake. The things I was going out and doing were the very things I was speaking out against in my music. At this time there was a lot of pressure to create the idea that “I’m perfect.”
Now I have the freedom of openness to vulnerability and reality in music. Things aren’t always perfect. We are all broken people who need grace, love and forgiveness. We’re all navigating life with questions and doubts just like everyone else. So my return to CHH feels like the perfect time for me to share what I want to talk about. I’m excited for people to hear about the things that I’m still wrestling with that I know God is leading me through. I feel a lot more like myself now.
NH2o : It’s cool to hear your story. It’s fascinating to me how right now the current climate of CHH has a lot of people exiting the label of the genre. You, on the other hand now feel more attracted to the culture. Could you share what that specifically means for you?
adriansings : Yeah, it is a little different for me. In this climate we’re in, we’re seeing a lot of people feeling like they need to leave the genre behind, and even leaving the fan bases behind in some cases. I think these moves will change the fan base, specifically regarding how they relate to not only God but the artists. Andy Mineo in his project “The Arrow” said something along the lines of “people put me up on this pedestal, but then when I had doubts I never felt like I could share them safely.” It’s moves like this that will change the CHH listening group, but it will also change this idea that Christian Hip-Hop is any different than Hip-Hop. We like to place a label on things so that before we get into them we know what we’re getting ourselves into.
Honestly I feel like I’m just a hip hop artist who raps from his worldview. It’s a godly worldview – that I have faith in God and trust in Him alone. This removes this pressure from artists who feel like they have to over perform or lie or craft an image of themselves that’s not true. Christian artists are broken people who need Jesus just as much as the next artist or fan.
NewH2o : How did this affect the way you approached your 1995 project?
adriansings : As far as my music is concerned, 1995 was a discovery album for me. I was trying to figure out how I fit into this journey. The best way I thought I could do that was by playing with a bunch of different styles. In a way it created some messy space of just meshing styles into one. It became to me somewhat of an experimental album. I don’t feel like 1995 was my best work, it was just a great way for me to get my feet wet. There’s a constant grind to it that has gotten me to where I am now. I make music and create full time. So being a creative, it’s a blessing to have the opportunities I have to create every day. I know that not everyone gets a chance at that, so I can’t take it for granted.
NH2o : Alright so now let’s talk about some of the new things you’ve got going on. You alluded earlier to some new features you have lined up.
adriansings : When I jumped back into the scene I didn’t know much about what was going on. I was a bit out of the loop, so I didn’t know who the up-and-comers were. I didn’t know the moves to make, where to submit music, who people were vibing with. I started to just listen around. There’s a lot of newcomers that are seeing a lot of success. It was good for me to pay attention to the new wave, and the type of sound that was catchy in the moment. I began to reach out to different artists like KHAM, Wilsxn, Levi Parker and then obviously I’ve been a longtime friend with Joey Vantes. On Instagram the other day I just released a teaser for a song “Up or Down” with Joey. It’s got great energy but it’s talking about being up or down, not knowing where I’m supposed to be headed. This is a reflection of how I felt when I jumped back into the game, dealing with my past but trying to walk forward strong and boldly. That is coming out August 11th.
Kham and Levi have been day ones since I came back into the industry. They both featured on my album as well. On August 4th KHAM, Levi Parker and I dropped a track called “Loading.” That is one exciting track. It’s on another level. It’s really cool how it came together. We all came into community through Instagram, so it’s crazy to me how we could craft a song together from all different parts of the country.
I am also excited to share that I have a new feature with Ruslan on the way, called “Let it Shine” and that one’s really dope. I’m a huge fan of Kings Dream — love their flow, love their sound. I love how they’re engaging the culture there in California. There’s no release date on this one, so just be on the look out for that to come soon. I’m hopeful that people will see that I’m serious about this music that I’m bringing. This isn’t about clout chasing, this is about me being genuine and making sure I’m surrounded with other artists who share the same vision.
NewH2o : Are all of these tracks going to be included on a project coming up?
adriansings : I am in fact working towards a little EP that will be releasing soon, featuring my latest single, “Stargaze” featuring Kid Tris as well as that “Up or Down” track with Joey Vantes. (Exclusive to NH2o, an early preview can be heard here) At the moment the plan is to name this project “Odyssey.” It’s truly been a journey for me these past couple years. Quite an Odyssey, and I’ve honestly felt lost through most of it. God was still in control through it all. I want people to come away from this knowing that whatever they’ve been through, if they stay steadfast and focused on God, their journey will be worked out for good.
NewH2o : I just heard something about Lost Boys Records the other day? Tell me how you became owner of this record label.
adriansings : This relationship with Lost Boys started when I was initially trying to get back into the hip hop scene. I was introduced to these guys who had a secular group called “Lost Boys.” This group is made up of Britton and Trey Bucknor, whom I featured on 1995. The owner of the label at the time was Colt Diesel. The goal in linking with them was just to knock some dust off. I wanted to make sure what I was bringing to the table was the best that it could be. They’re a group of great guys. I’m proud to call them friends and I trusted their input into the music I was making.
Through the process of befriending them, Colt saw they hadn’t been doing anything with the label for awhile. When I came around it kinda lit a fire in them to pursue what this label could be, and with Colt getting happily married he didn’t feel he had the time or capacity to bring it forward. So I took over as the head of the label. I rebranded it and gave it a new mission statement in a sense. I want to be a home for those who wander. If you’re a lost boy, you have a home here.
Even if you look at Peter Pan, those “lost boys” weren’t lost. They had a family. The goal is to work with anyone who needs a creative space to just be themselves. Anyone who needs a community of people who will accept them and love them. I want it to be a ministry, but don’t want to restrict the product that comes out of it. People’s experiences and stories they want to tell are true to the individual and those type of things need to be heard to help us all grow as people. This is how I want “Lost Boys” to fit in. We’re all lost people that God found for a purpose.
NewH2o : Wow man it’s great to hear about all of this. I’m sure we’ll get to chop it up again in the future. Thank you for your time!
adriansings : Thank you so much for the interview and for the chance to let people know who I am.
Alright for real, you’re all gonna want to follow those links we shared in the interview. Odyssey is absolutely dope. We’re excited for adriansings and the future of his music!