From the emergence of OutKast and Goodie Mob in the early ’90s to Ludacris and T.I. at the top of 2000, and more recently with Migos, Young Thug, Gucci Mane, and Future, Atlanta has earned its designation from the New York Times as “hiphop’s center of gravity.” Adding to the culture and variety of Atlanta’s musical landscape is Reach Records artist 1K Phew, an Atlanta native who is elevating trap hip-hop into a new realm, dubbing it “Gospel Rap,” equally at home in the club or the church.
1K Phew’s ability to take his past and redeem it for a greater purpose is something you can feel and relate to in his music. His smooth delivery, swag, personality, and evocative vocals have landed him on the “one to watch” lists of established hip-hop outlets and Christian culture blogs.
His forthcoming album, As I Am, to be released in Summer 2022, embraces 1K Phew’s duality. “Although I was in the streets, I grew up in the church, and everyone in the hood always knew me to be a church boy. As I Am is about me finally coming to terms with both sides of myself. If people are uncomfortable with who I am, and I start to be something I’m not, now we’re both uncomfortable.”
In his early 20s, Phew’s refined rawness and genuine directness resonate with an audience familiar with his journey. A sense of transparency that comes through in his music, a kind that can only be gained through past experiences and honing your craft. He keeps it more than 100 when he talks about his past. Phew grew up with two praying parents who encouraged him. He had it better than some of his peers, yet he still went down a destructive path as a teen. “It wasn’t until I almost got shot one day that I decided to surrender my life to God and His plan. Every time I tried to do things my way, it didn’t work out for me. That incident was a turning point for me. From that day onward, I was different and committed to a personal relationship with God over being religious.”
“The Offering,” the first single released from As I Am, has a fun, energetic energy that makes for great Tik Tok content. On the heartfelt and inspirational “Safe,” Phew invites Jai’Len Josey, and a full choir to carry the melody higher. On the hook, Jai’Len sings, “Keep me safe, now I lay me down to sleep, and if I’m hurting get to my knees and pray,” while Phew raps, “Prayed up, Amen, safe to say I had to earn my second chance/[they] tried to give me life upstairs but they don’t know I know the Big Man.”
On the triumphant “Off-White Jays,” trumpets blow, bass slaps, alongside flutes. Phew’s swag embodies this song, and just when you thought he’s gotten too big-headed, he reveals the source lyrically for his confidence, “Quit playin’ you must not know I came with the Big Man /you tryna steal like the tin man.” “Gospel Rap back like the Holiday/they said it’s not I got time today/’cause they never gave it the time of day.” The bounce continues with “Church House/Trap House,”another highlight from the album. “I used to wonder why my uncle was in that kitchen where all them pots are/I used to wonder why my Pastor was in that room where all them Glocks are,” Phew raps.
In 2019, 1K Phew hit the ground running on “Hammer Time,” a lead single from Lecrae’s All Things Work Together album and hasn’t turned back since. An Atlanta native, 1K Phew is the only artist signed to the Reach Records roster who was born and raised in the city that the label now calls home. “He has established a sonic brand built on his unmistakable Atlanta diction, melodic genius, catchy hooks, and impeccably crafted bars. Each element combines to serve his content, or as he calls it, his “Atlanta Street Gospel,” and “Gospel Rap.” He is leading the way for a new breed of artist who are taking trap music and elevating it.
1K Phew has already received nods from New York hip-hop stalwart Benny the Butcher. When he’s not recording, he’s performing with his 1K Famo collective. Recent performances include the We Are Unashamed Tour, Atlanta Live, and BET Super Bowl Cypher hosted by Lecrae.
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