Dre Murray interview: GRMOD, Collision Records, Church Clothes and more

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Interview by Paul Martinez
Dre Murray on the web: Twitter
Purchase: Dre Murray “Gold Rush Maybe One Day”

Houston, Texas-based Hip Hop artist Dre Murray recently released his first album under the Collision Records imprint. The creative lyricist dropped his last full-length album 5 years ago and it was well received by various media outlets. His project “Gold Rush: Maybe One Day” released July 9 and the album has already generated heavy dialogue in various Hip Hop circles.

Even though its been awhile since Murray’s “Manumit” album, he has put out a significant amount of material over the last few years. Murray has released singles, a collaborative musical series titled “Hells Paradise” with GRAMMY Award-winning producer Wit and experienced chart topping success as a member of WLAK (Swoope, Christon Gray, Alex Faith, and Dre Murray). WLAKs self-titled album landed at #1 on the iTunes Hip-Hop/Rap and #3 on overall. A lot has happened since Dre Murray announced that he would ink a deal with Collision Records back in November. Sphere of Hip Hop got a chance to chop it up with him about his “Gold Rush: Maybe One Day” album and more.

Sphere of Hip-Hop:
Can you explain why you named your upcoming project “Gold Rush: Maybe One Day” and why you painted yourself all Gold on the cover?

Dre Murray:
Adam Thomason, the owner of Collision, mentioned the idea to me earlier this year. He sent me an email with his thoughts on the overall theme, and I fell in love with it because it was the direction I wanted to go, but I was having a hard time coming up with a specific title. The thinking behind the title is that there is a modern day gold rush happening today. Be it social media, sports, entertainment etc., people all over the world are in a “rush” to obtain riches, fame, power. No one is concerned with legacy anymore or imparting things to the generation after us. Today in our culture its all about “me” and how much “I” can acquire in a short amount of time. The “Maybe One Day” subtitle is speaking to the thought that maybe one day I can obtain these things that people are rushing towards. It’s the constant longing for these things and ultimately what the heart is saying is maybe one day I can be God. Maybe one day I can control my life and make these things happen.

SOHH:
On your social media networks it says that you are from Houston, Texas but live in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Can you tell us a little about this transition and how the various Hip Hop scenes might have impacted your sound?

Dre Murray:
I started college in Oklahoma City in the fall of 2000 and I immediately felt the difference in culture. The music scene in Oklahoma City was driven by the CHH artist there at that time due to the efforts of a local Christian radio station (91FM). 91FM allowed local artist to not only be played on the radio, but we were able to promote live performances ever week and some artist even had their own show on the air. It helped me to be seen and heard by people that I wouldn’t have been in front of in a larger city. I was young in the faith, so it was just an all around better situation because of the slowed down culture. It helped me to grow as an artist and as a believer. Houston will always be a part of my sound though. I was exposed to that my entire life and so its not something I can just shake. You can still hear the influence of that culture in my stories and in the sound of certain songs. It was a big part of my life growing up.

SOHH:
You have a lot of dope producers and features on this upcoming project. What records are you most excited about people hearing?

Dre Murray:
I’m excited for people to hear Pharaoh if they haven’t already. I just think that content wise it sums up our culture right now and where we are as a country. This mentality is everywhere, not just in Hip Hop. Artistically its one of the best songs that Ive been a part of. The world needs to hear it.

SOHH:
Did you learn anything about success after the WLAK album charted so high and did it impact some of the content on the new album?

Dre Murray:
I learned how easy it is to get caught up in the hype. Those on the outside of the success usually have an inaccurate picture of the reality. If you take hold of their view instead of Gods view you can easily get trapped in this fantasy. I learned that the most important thing is to just keep moving and stay focused on the ultimate goal and mission. I almost let it affect how I communicated the Gold Rush idea because I was a little afraid at first. A lot of the supporters from WLAK may not have heard me before that album, so they didn’t know the “Hells Paradise Dre.” I didn’t know if I could go that route, but ultimately I have to be who God has called me to be.

SOHH:
How is “Gold Rush: Maybe One Day” different from your first full-length album “Manumit”?

Dre Murray:
I’m a lot more mature now than I was then. A lot has happened in my life since that album and it has helped me to be more confident in who God has called me to be. After GRMOD was done I realized how far I had come. My vision is a lot clearer now as far as purpose. It has helped me to craft some really great songs that have really spoken to people. I held back a lot during Manumit because of fear. Similar to what I felt after WLAK, but the difference is I have more confidence in the purpose that God has given me.

SOHH:
What has changed since signing with Collision Records?

Dre Murray:
God has used Collision to give me a bigger platform. Im in front of more people now, and I think Ive gotten better artistically as well. I’m on a label with some of the most talented individuals in Hip Hop. But not only are they nice artistically, they love God with all their hearts. Its a win win situation for me. Its helped me to pay more attention to my art and Ive grown closer to God because of my relationship with Collision.

SOHH:
There are a lot of great artist on the Collision Records roster. How does having so many talented artists on your roster affect your musical process?

Dre Murray:
I’ve never rewritten so many verses and songs in my life. Its a constant push to be better than the last time. That comes from everyone on the label too. We all want to see each other be the best that we can, and we voice our opinions when we don’t feel like someone is reaching their full potential on something. I have no choice, but to get better.

SOHH:
On the Collision Records Facebook page they posted a promo vid with a slew of historical facts. Can you tell us how some of that world history influenced this new project?

Dre Murray:
It put me in the right mindset for what I wanted to communicate. Ultimately what those facts were saying was that all the kingdoms that were set up eventually fell apart, but Gods kingdom will last forever. There are a lot of little kingdoms being set up today. Mans heart is focused on building his kingdom, but just like the kingdoms of old they will one day meet their demise.

SOHH:
You have featured on a lot of projects (Lecrae’s “Church Clothes” is a notable one). Which one of your features are you proud of the most?

Dre Murray:
I am most proud of having my song featured on “Church Clothes”. It introduced me to a new crowd of people and made me want to get better at my craft. It was a doorway to what I’m doing now with “Gold Rush”.

SOHH:
Who are some of the artists that you want to collaborate with that you haven’t?

Dre Murray:
I think Thi’sl and I could put together something powerful. We’ve had a couple of missed opportunities due to scheduling, but I think that we will definitely do something in the future. This is random but, aside from music I think acting alongside Mos Def would be really dope. After wrapping for the day maybe we could head to the studio and see what we could come up with. As an overall artist hes my favorite. Wyclef Jean as well. I would love to work with that guy.

SOHH:
“Gold Rush: Maybe One Day” has a very consistent theme. What inspired you to make a conceptual project rather than a random compilation type album that seems to be what most emcees are doing these days?

Dre Murray:
It’s just something that came natural to me. I’ve always loved the art of storytelling and putting together a complete body of work that speaks to one specific subject matter. I usually approach my projects like movies and look at each song as scenes. It allows me to think outside of the box when it comes to the song concepts. On top of that I have more fun doing it this way.

Dre Murray’s “Gold Rush: Maybe One Day” is out now.

Purchase: Dre Murray “Gold Rush Maybe One Day”