Christian hip-hop is a genre that has been steadily growing in popularity, attracting listeners from all walks of life. The fusion of faith and rap music has allowed artists to share their messages of hope, love, and spirituality in a way that resonates with fans worldwide. Among these artists, Phrv stands out for his unique sound and inspiring lyrics.
Phrv, pronounced “Free”, has been making a name for himself in the Christian hip-hop scene with his thought-provoking music and authentic storytelling. His tracks blend his faith with his artistry, resulting in a captivating and inspiring sound. With a growing fanbase and a string of successful releases, Phrv has established himself as a force to be reckoned with in Christian rap.
But what sets Phrv apart from the crowded musical landscape? What inspires him to continue crafting his unique sound? And how does he navigate the challenging terrain of being an independent artist? In this exclusive interview, we delve deep into the journey of Phrv as a Christian rapper, exploring the creative process behind his music and the themes that inspire him. We also touch on his faith’s impact on his art and the message he hopes to spread through his music. From his early days in the industry to his current successes, we get an inside look at the life and career of one of the most exciting artists in Christian hip hop.
Can you tell us about your background?
My name is Victor Eche Ekainu, a.k.a Phrv (pronounced Free). I’m from Benue state but was born and raised in Kaduna state. I am also a graduate of Microbiology from the Federal University of Technology Minna. I am the first of 4 children, and I am a rapper, recording artiste and songwriter.
What inspired you to pursue a rap career, and who are some of your biggest musical influences?
What inspired me to begin music, especially rap, was that in secondary school, some of my classmates were really good at it. I was always intrigued by the fact that they could write and perform their own songs, so I decided to give it a go. Being in Kaduna at the time, there were a lot of Christian creatives who were really good at what they did. Going to their events and seeing young people like me putting in the work musically and excellently gave me the push and encouragement I needed to start.
Currently, my major musical influences are J. Cole, Lecrae, Kota The Friend, KB, Little Simz, Andy Mineo.
How do you approach songwriting and creating music, and what techniques do you use to stay creatively inspired?
My approach to songwriting is mood-dependent in most cases. My music is an extension of me, and one of the reasons I make music is to tell my story and talk about stuff that are personal to me. I won’t say there is a textbook approach to how I write, but I can say I let whatever is there flow out of me through my pen. As a creative I listen to other creatives, and that’s what keeps me going creatively, the ability to listen and learn from others. I have a lot of creative friends, and I’ve learnt a great deal from them.
Also, the primary factor for me is God, my spiritual life basically, a lot of times when I am out of juice, all I need to do is take time to stay with God, pray, read my Bible, read Christian literature, listen to sermons and all. Some of these things are things I do daily, but there comes a time when you’ll need to shut down everything and be there with them.
I love art and nature, and most times, I scroll through my Pinterest, watch my favourite artist’s interviews/documentaries, eat and sleep (lol). All these things and more help me to stay creative.
What are the biggest challenges facing independent artists like yourself, and how do you navigate those obstacles to continue making music?
Omo! Being an independent artiste is a lot! *Inserts crying emoji*. Bruh!!! First, there is little in it profit-wise, especially if you’re still underground. Then, building a community is a lot of hard work. Trying to convince people to vibe with your sound every time is crazy because millions of other independent artists are equally good and hungry. The truth is music is expensive, and the promotion is the most challenging part of a music rollout. Honestly, it is my passion for my craft that keeps me going because if na by profit mans for don give up since. As much as I’d love to profit from it, and I know the time will definitely come, I’m still hopeful and passionate about telling my story and positively influencing my world. That in itself is what keeps me going, to be honest.
What sets your music apart from others in the industry, and how do you stay innovative with your style?
I want to believe my vulnerability sets me apart. As I said earlier, I love to tell my story and talk about many things a regular Christian artiste won’t discuss. And then also hip-hop is an evolving culture, especially in this part of the world. It takes a lot of skill and intelligence for one to be able to express himself through this medium, so I think that plays a major role in making my sound unique. There are other things I try experimentally too, which is fusing one genre with another.
What role do you see Christian hip-hop playing in modern society, and how do you hope to use your platform to effect positive change?
Christian Hip-Hop has played a significant role in society for real. Ok, speaking for myself, I grew up on a lot of major mainstream hip-hop acts and the message their sound represents and their mode of delivering it wasn’t really clean to a large extent. CHH made me comfortable while listening and taught me a lot faith-wise. The difference CHH has from mainstream Hip-hop is the message. Nothing beats the message of true life in Christ that it brings to the audience.
I’ve heard many people say that a CHH song of 3 minutes is a compressed 1hr sermon, and I agree. Check out the likes of Flame, Lecrae, The Ambassador, Da T. R. U. T. H, Timothy Brindle, Shai Linne and the likes. You’d be able to affirm this statement. Many CHH-inclined people say that it helped them embrace the Hip-hop culture comfortably. I agree because it has done a lot of good, even for the Hip-hop culture in general.
It is good that a good number of youths are CHH-inclined/oriented in Nigeria. I couldn’t hide my excitement when I saw the number of young people who came out to see Lecrae when he was in Lagos. In its own way, CHH has helped control the narrative that hip-hop isn’t only inclined to violence, drugs and other negatives. CHH has proven that hip-hop can be used to change lives and bring people into the light of Christ.
Can you talk about a time when you had to step outside your comfort zone and take a risk and how it paid off in your career?
There are two instances lol.
That would be my first mixtape (Year Of The Wolf) lmao. Before I started working on it, I had dropped a couple of singles; at that time, I was just a student. When the idea came for the mixtape, I was excited, but also I wasn’t because somewhere in my mind, I was asking myself where the money would come from. To be honest, I didn’t even bother to do a budget for the project at all because I didn’t want to be discouraged and not work, so I made it one song at a time, and I was using my school allowance to pay for the mixing and mastering sessions because a bulk of the recording was done for free at Steverawd’s house then.
The project came to life in the end, though, and it was just a beautiful lesson to me that anything I wanted to do and I set my mind to do was achievable.
The second instance was when I decided to get my home studio equipment. I was a corp member, serving the country *side eye*. When I set off to start saving for my studio gear, it felt like I was overstretching, but to God be the glory, I pulled it off, and I can make music whenever I want to make music now.
The thing is, as an independent artiste, leaving your comfort zone to get stuff done is your everyday job because if you don’t, nobody will do it for you.
What do you think has been the most significant turning point in your career so far, and how did it shape your future direction?
I would say when my debut album, “The Coloured Tape”, dropped last year. It exposed me to a good number of consistent listeners. I’m definitely not there yet, but it’s the little things that count and the exposure that project gave me definitely did a lot of wonders for me.
Looking towards the future, what are your long-term goals for your music career, and what steps are you taking to achieve them?
My long-term goal is to build a community that loves and appreciates my sound. Consistently making and putting out music with contentment is how I intend to achieve this.
Thank you Phrv.
The music of Phrv is available on all major streaming platforms. You can get it here