Brad Crofford, Editor-in-chief, and Garvis Long, Staff writer
Christian hip hop artist Dre Murray came to SNU to share his music and talk to students about his story of growing up, playing college basketball and becoming a rap star. After chapel, Murray sat down with The Echo for a brief interview in the Commons between signing copies of his newest collaboration album, We Live As Kings.
The Echo: You mentioned during chapel that you had a turning point while you were at SNU. How would you describe yourself when you came to SNU and when you left?
Dre Murray: It’s all about perspective… I just think it was more about the perspective and the way I was, because I was already that person on the inside but I was running from it. When I left, I embraced that person inside, and also the things that I knew were true; I paid more attention to them and actually saw clearer than I did when I first got here.
TE: Is there anyone in particular at SNU or in this community that impacted you significantly?
DM: There was lots of people, man. I mean, I played basketball so there was coach Martin, who is the athletic director now. There was a guy by the name of James Mann who was a transfer from OU. He played basketball, and his mom and dad were pastors at the first church that I went to while I was here. He spoke into my life. [Also] Larry and Judy Mills… he and his wife do Angel Tree ministry here in the community, and that really impacted me to see people, you know, showing and displaying the love of Christ…those people were key in my transformation.
TE: What were the first few years like after SNU? What was your journey like?
DM: I had an album while I was here [at SNU]. I used to sell it in that store over there [the SNU Bookstore]. Right after SNU, my wife went five years; she graduated a year after I did, so I was still on campus a year after I graduated, and so I still was around the same environment. I started using the facility here to record a project, and tried to reach out into the community a little bit more and kind of got connected with some of the organizations and ministries here like Angel Tree, and just grew.
My faith just grew, and I started linking up with more and more people who helped my faith to grow. That year was kind of like training camp almost to prepare me for us eventually leaving and going to Tulsa and, you know, being away from this environment.
TE: Some people think there is baggage with words like “Christian movies” or “Christian artists,” just putting the word “Christian” in front of another word. Do you accept the label “Christian rap artist”? How would you describe yourself?
DM: …Early on I really embraced the name. I was very zealous about it; I wanted people to know. But then as you grow and you get older… it’s not really about the name, but it’s about what you’re saying and how you live it…I don’t tell people not to call me that, but if they don’t, if they just say I’m a hip hop artist, I accept that as well, because I am both of those things; I am a Christian as well as a hip hop artist…
Whatever people want to call me, as long as they listen to the music and get what they need to get out of it, I’m fine.
TE: During your career, you have had a chance to collaborate with some other artists. Are there any of those who have been particularly meaningful for you?
DM: As far as collaborations go, I think Lecrae. Obviously I’ve collaborated with him, but the most impactful relationship I have had has been with my producer, who I view as my brother now. His producer name is Wit. His real name is Elvin [Shahbazian]. We’ve grown outside of music as well as inside of music…building a relationship with him has basically taken my ministry and career to heights that I didn’t think I could get to in such a small amount of time.
I had worked so hard to try to get there, and all it took was God leading me to him, and we created a sound that kind of allowed me to be who I wanted to be all along. He’s definitely the most impactful as term of collaborators. I really don’t let anybody touch my music if it doesn’t go through him first, because he is like my ears now.