Q&A with HulveyThis 22-Year-Old Christian Rapper Talks About Mental Health, Living in Freedom and New Music.
Hulvey is a 22-year-old Christian rapper who released his first EP, “BRKNHRT,” in 2020. Today, he releases his new album, “Christopher.” Last year in April 2020, he sat down with Peer to chat about his EP and his story coming from bagging groceries to working with Reach Records and rappers like Lecrae and Andy Mineo. Today, he talks more about his story including how he lives in freedom, maintaining faith in a pandemic, the heart behind his new album and what he’s learning from God each day.
PEER: We heard from your EP and how it was the story of your surrender and freedom in our last interview. How does this new album connect to that or reflect your current journey?
HULVEY: This album, I am more so expounding on actually living life in freedom versus talking about trying to get free, if that makes sense. There are definitely moments where I am relating the struggle; but for the most part, I am definitely talking about being free in Him and how His blood has washed me clean. I kind of went with the simplicity approach on this album. And compared to BRKNHRT, I kind of continued that same pattern of just keeping it simple and reminding people that His blood washed us clean. I was just trying to keep it simple. I feel like, for me, I do not like to go outside of what He has shown me. I kept it pretty simple.
P: I like that you just keep everything on God’s terms too.
H: Yes. He has washed us clean, and I am going to talk about it. I do not want to take away from the fact that I definitely do talk about the struggle of sin and being in sin, but I think I focus some more on what He has done for us in this album, compared to the last one.
P: Going off of that, what is the heart behind your new album?
H: The heart for this album really is for identity. For people to be able to listen to it and hear who I am in Christ. And for them to be able to say, “Man, if he is confident in who he is in Christ, then I can be confident in who I am in Christ.” That is really kind of what I laid out. The title is Christopher, so it is really all about my journey in Christ. Hopefully, people can grab who He has made them to be as well.
P: It is almost like you are acting like an influencer or a role model to them, but not as an influencer for clout or anything. You are saying like, “I went through this, you are not alone in that.”
H: Exactly. I touch on stuff like, there is a song on the album called “Ninth Grade,” where I highlight being in high school and just the feeling of rejection and wanting to fit in. In “Cold Nights,” I talked about just being anxious all the time and then I try to relate to other people’s struggles in there as well. Throughout the album, I am giving you those dark seasons, but I am also showing you, “Man, this is what God has done in my heart to restore me from that.” I just hope that people can hear it and say, “Man, I am free too, I have the opportunity to be healed from these things.” That is the heart behind it all.
P: Yes, that is good. In the video for your song “Reasons,” you include different stories from ordinary people to illustrate their extraordinary stories. Why do that? What is the message behind that?
H: Thank you. We really just wanted to create relatability. Because I think sometimes when you just see an artist in a video, your first question can say, “Well, is this real?” We just wanted to have real stories, to be able to connect to the person who feels like they can relate to them because I feel like, as an artist, they are not going to always connect with me because I feel like people can look at me and go, “Man, he is an artist, he does not go through what I go through.” We just wanted to create a connection point of real stories and it connects to the song because anybody in this earth has experienced pain. Most, anybody has experienced loss, so the heart behind it was to resonate with those people and just say, “You are not alone.” And also, to remind them that you cannot keep holding onto the past but yet not deal with it. You cannot keep letting it burden you but yet not actually let God shine light on it. That was kind of the goal, it was to highlight a bunch of different stories. And in the midst of those, show God’s love and restoring power in the midst of that. Hopefully that answers that.
P: Yeah, I like that. It is a really great video. You also work with Lecrae and Andy Mineo on your new album, too. You are only 22 years old. Did you ever think in your teen years that you were going to be working on an album with these types of Christian artists?
H: No, I had dreams of it, but I think I did not actually see that coming, to be honest. So, no. I definitely had dreams. I remember my mom told me, we were at a Winter Jam, Andy was setting up his truck in the back where his team was. I will never forget, she was like, “Yes, one day, you are going to be onstage with them.” And I was like, “Mom, you are just saying that because you are my mom.” And she was like, “No.” She was being serious. It is cool just looking back at that and be like, “Man, God had this in store the whole time.” I dreamed of it, but I do not know if I saw it coming.
P: It is funny, looking back on these times where you think you would never get to where you are now, but then, you are here. Speaking of that, you have come so far in your career, especially over the past year. How have you maintained your faith in this journey?
H: Discipleship has been a big one. Having mentors that I can talk to and who can walk me through things with the Lord, that has been really big. There have definitely been times where I was not that strong in discipleship, and it shows in my life, and it shows on my heart, because I start to feel weighed down and burdened. Discipleship has been huge for me. Also, just keeping people I can talk to there like Lecrae and Andy, and I might go to them. When it comes to tough stuff, I definitely I really do go to them, as well as other people on the label that can relate to music things that still require my integrity. So yes, that has helped having people around me to point me back to him. And most importantly, it has been Him. He has been gracious to me. And always, when I feel weighed down and burdened, He has always just reminded me of His Son and His blood. And so, yes, I say His grace has helped me hold on, throughout my career and help me hold on to my faith, nothing I can do. So, yes.
P: In the last interview, I did ask about your involvement with the church Crossover Atlanta. I know with the pandemic, and over the last year, churches have shut down and shifted to online. And of course, young people all they do is be online, being digital natives. And so, how have you continued to be a part of and be involved with the church during this pandemic?
H: Yes, so a lot has shifted, so I am engaged.
H: Thank you. I am in Houston a lot, I am actually there right now with my fiancée and while I am here, I really try to come alongside her. She is a pastor, like a student pastor, so she is a middle school pastor and I really just try to come alongside her and serve her in ways that I can, be there for the students at that church. So, that has been really cool, it is a whole another context, but I am here a lot and it has been beautiful getting to serve in a different context. So, yes.
P: Yes. Has that grown your faith being in a different position of serving?
H: Yes, yes, 100 percent because it is not what I am used to, it is a different type of serving and it gets uncomfortable and requires me to really be a servant, you know what I mean? And be willing to champion her over myself. So, yes, it has helped me grow a lot. Seriously.
P: OK, how can the incoming generation (Gen Z) maintain their faith in a post-Christian world?
H: Yes. I think, they really need to seek Him above, like kind of fight for issues. And I do not want to say that in a controversial context. I do think it is important to fight for issues around that stuff, I really do! But I think the first thing first, we need to be looking to Him. So, I would just encourage teens to spend time getting to know God, like for himself. Because in this generation, there are just tons of things floating out there and tons of different things to fight for. But I think fighting for your relationship with Him first gives you a lens to be able to see the world in a different way. And it kind of helps you see it how He sees it. And so, you start to see things with love versus agenda or, you know what I mean? Yes, trying to say this the best way possible, but yes, it really helps you see things with love. And then, you will be convicted on if there are times you are supposed to take a stand for something. But yes, I would say just seek Him first. Seriously.
P: So, is there anything that God is teaching you right now?
H: Oh, yes, multiple things. I think one thing He is teaching me is so simple. But once again, I am free. It is just so easy for me to get caught up and sometimes feel like I do not measure up to him, or I have to do something to earn His love or to be closer to Him. But it is crazy, because He just reminded me that, I am already seated in Heaven with Him. And so, yes, that is one thing I am learning this man, I am free, not because of anything I’ve done but because of Him. And I am learning that every single day more and more. I am also learning how to be selfless because I think, especially being engaged, I started to learn a lot about myself and I have a lot of pride that is got to be undone, and so He is really teaching me how to be a servant. And that is not an overnight thing. So yes, I think those are two big ones for sure.
P: Yes. Would you say that is something He has taught you over this past year?
H: Yes, most definitely but especially recently, especially the past month.
P: So, shifting to your new album, do you have anything exciting in the works? And what are you most excited for with this album release?
H: Yes. So, what is in the works right now, the album is done. So, the album on the way, a Deluxe album, we are working on too, which is really exciting, I am working on possible shows just stuff like that. And with the album, I am just super excited for people to get to see another side of me musically. And just get to see and hear just new stories, new testimonies that have not heard before, that is really exciting for me. For people to get to really dive into my story more. And just kind of get more of a piece of me than they have gotten before. So yes, that is super exciting. And yes, I just think on this one, I really stretched myself sonically, I really went outside the box on this album, and I am going to continue to do that. So yes, I am just so excited for people, most importantly, to be honest with you, once again—and I really do mean this—I really am excited for people to experience Him through it. Because I know His hand was all over it. We did not even have an album until He spoke it to me and the team, like we were asking, “Man, we do have one in the clip.” So, it has just been interesting seeing Him, just God, the whole thing. And so, yes, I am so excited for people to get a taste of that.
P: What is a Bible verse that has helped you over the last year?
H: Oh, yes. I think the one that has always stuck with me. I think “The truth will set you free” is a big one for me right now (John 8:32). Especially the past year, because my mentor says, “It’s the truth you believe in is the truth that shapes you.” And so, it is like man, if I really believe who God is, and I believe what He says about me in the Word, and who He says He is in a Word. But I have no right to be holding onto things. I have no right to be anxious or worried. So, I think the truth will set you free is just so big because yes, it gives you a whole other revelation of how you can live.
And that is something that Jesus had said in John 8:32.
P: Now, that is really good and really powerful and will help a lot of people too. A lot of people have struggled with their mental health, especially over the past year.
H: Oh, yes. I went through that heavy, heavy.
P: Yes. What do you hope fans who struggle with their mental health take away from your music?
H: Oh, yes, yes. I really just hope that they know, first of all, they are not alone, but also that they are not bound to their thoughts. I hope that when they hear the music, that it just reminds them of the freedom that is truly available. Because I was so balanced with my thoughts, it was wild, every bad thought I would get would just torment me. So, I just want people to know that those things are not who they are. They are sons and daughters in Christ, if they choose to believe it.
You can download Hulvey’s new album, “Christopher,” today on all streaming platforms. Read part 1 of his interview with Peer in the issue of April 2020 here. Follow along @hulveyofficial on Instagram and Twitter for encouragement and music updates.