Detroit area rapper Drew32 is only 22 years of age but has seen a lot in his rap career. Drew has released a handful of mixtapes that have allowed him to perform internationally in addition to being featured on high profile outlets like MTV and ESPN. Drew32 has also recorded with other rap heavyweights from Detroit, Royce da 5’9” and Jon Connor.
Drew is not only a rapper, he’s a producer and songwriter and his skills are fully on display on his most recent release, The Batch: Volume 1. The free mixtape features appearances by B-Smooth, Neenaa, and P.L. Drew handles most of the production on The Batch with one track a piece going to VibeSounds and SC The Webslinger.
Examiner.com spoke to Drew32 about his love of producing, his musical inspirations, and his latest mixtape, The Batch: Volume 1.
SS: Tell me about The Batch: Volume 1.
Drew32: The Batch: Volume 1 is my latest project. My fans were hitting me up for some new music and I needed to give them something. It was just some stuff that I’ve been working on -- I’m excited about it. It’s got some personal stuff on there and some stuff you can just vibe to. I produced most of it myself with the exception of two tracks. It’s pretty dope. It’s gotten a pretty good response so far.
SS: Is the single ‘True Colors’ based on a true story?
Drew32: Yeah [laughs]. That’s why I was saying it’s a little bit personal at some points throughout the record. ‘True Colors’ is definitely one of those examples. It’s a relationship situation that I felt I needed to get off my chest. It was crazy ‘cause I came home from class one day and was just in my car in the driveway and that sh*t just wrote itself pretty much in fifteen minutes. It usually doesn’t happen like that. I’m the type of person where it takes me a long time to write a song. It’s really tedious because I’m a perfectionist, but that song for some reason was easy.
SS: How’d you get the name Drew32?
Drew32: Basically my first love before music was basketball. When I was a little kid I wanted to be like Michael Jordan. On the first basketball team that I wanted to be on someone had already picked number 23 so I switched it around and was 32. Magic Johnson wore number 32, and Dr. J when he played in the ABA wore number 32, so I kind of adopted it. I was always number 32 in basketball so when I got into music the name just kind of came with it. It just became a part of who I am. It’s no real deep meaning.
SS: How are you a Michael Jordan fan in Detroit?
Drew32: [Laughs] You know what man I’m too young for the Bad Boy era. I was born in ’91. I was watching Michael Jordan highlight tapes.
SS: So you really didn’t even see Jordan play.
Drew32: Barely! I was like five years old in ’96. And I saw him on the Wizards but that doesn’t really count.
SS: Nah, it don’t count. Who are some of your musical influences?
Drew32: I got a lot of influences from rap and I also got some outside of rap. In terms of Hip-Hop, definitely Eminem and Royce da 5’9”, especially coming out of Detroit. Those guys are huge to me and definitely influential in my own style. I’m also a big Kanye fan. In middle school I was always listening to 2Pac, especially the Me Against the World album. In music in general the first CD I got as a kid was Bob Marley’s Legend CD. I’m a huge Bob Marley fan. I like Brazilian music as well, like Sergio Mendes. I kinda get influenced from a lot of different spots, not just rap. I’m Greek-American so I’ve always been exposed to Greek music at weddings and church. If I hear something and I like it, somehow it will sneak its way into influencing me.
SS: I detect a Drake influence in your music. Are you a big fan of Drake?
Drew32: I’m a Drake fan, for sure – he’s dope. It’s funny though, people say that maybe because of my voice. People say my voice sounds like him – I don’t really hear it. I’m more of Eminem and Kanye West. I guess people compare Drake to Kanye West though too production wise. I’m kind of in between Eminem and Kanye stylistically. I don’t really do the R&B sh*t like Drake does. He’s really dope at that. I might sing a couple of hooks, but I pride myself on being able to produce and rap – being very lyrical, quick, and double-timing raps. I’m definitely different but I see where people can make that comparison. It’s cool. I’ve heard it enough now to where I have to live with it. The more people hear from me they’ll be able to tell that I’m my own artist.
SS: You mentioned you produced most of your mixtape, do you prefer producing or rapping?
Drew32: I think producing comes easier to me. It can just happen at any time. I can catch the influence at any time. It could be three in the morning and I’ll feel like making a beat. I don’t know why, it just comes more natural to me. I’ve been influenced by in my opinion two of the most lyrical rappers ever; Eminem and Royce da 5’9” are two of the most technically skilled rappers recently. That being said, I love doing both. I think eventually down the line I’ll just want to be producing. When I’m like 40 I’ll just be on the producer side of it, but for right now I’m trying to be an artist and I like rapping too.
SS: What beat-making equipment do you use?
Drew32: Right now I’m using Ableton and Pro Tools. I have an Akai MPK49 midi keyboard. I’m all computer – I have a Mac. I have a bunch of different sound software’s like Native Instruments and stuff like that. A bunch of illegally downloaded drums [laughs]. I’ll be honest, producers nowadays we’ll just be downloading everything. I got a bunch of stuff. I used to work on Reason a lot. I just recently made the transition over to Ableton. DJ Head put me on to Ableton. He used to deejay for Eminem. He produced some records for Eminem too like, ‘Without Me’ and ‘Renegade’ with Jay-Z.
SS: Do you sample at all?
Drew32: I’ve been trying to steer a little away from it. I love sampling. I’ve sampled quite a bit throughout the years but I’ve been trying to steer away from it and just do mostly originally stuff recently. A lot of it is because I want to be able to put stuff on iTunes and sell it and I don’t want to have to worry about clearing samples. Just Blaze is crazy with the samples. Kanye is crazy with the samples. Those are two guys that influenced me producing wise and I love their music. That being said, I am trying to steer away from it because I can’t really get the samples cleared.
SS: How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it?
Drew32: I would say my music is rhythmic, energetic, and my lyrics are witty. I don’t like when people call me Pop, but I’m not underground either. I’m kind of in between. I’m crossover a little between rap and stuff that you’ll hear on the radio. My music can be on urban stations or top 40, but my music is not dance music at all. I enjoy the writing process so I’m kind of technically lyrical with the syllables, metaphors, and similes. I definitely take pride in that side of it. I’m not really into dumbing down sh*t but at the same time some of my records are commercial.
SS: What do you hope to accomplish in the music business?
Drew32: Man, this is going to sound cocky but I’m trying to be an international superstar, man, for real. It stems from me being into so many types of music. I wanna be around the world. There is no other way to put it. Not just touring the world but I’d like to make music in other countries too. I’d like to make an album in Brazil or in Spain. I don’t think that’s necessarily been done before and actually gotten influence from those countries. I know Kanye recorded a lot of his music in Paris but I don’t know if he’s using French musicians in his music. I want to actually have cultural albums. I want to make an album in Greece and it sounds like Greek music mixed with Hip-Hop. I just wanna be around the world, man. That’s my dream.
Download: Drew32 - The Batch: Volume 1