I recently had the chance to talk with Gifted On West East aka Gowe. He has a different sound and direction than most Christian hip hop artists and may not be someone in your current music rotation. Hopefully, after reading this interview you will like what you hear and check out his body of work.
Edward: Where did you develop your sound from?
Gowe: Growing up in Seattle I grew up on a lot of jazz. When I got into rap I listened to the south and some from the west coast. The style that influenced me the most was east coast rap. I listened to a lot of lyricists that painted images with words. I try to pride myself in listening to lots of different types of music. I like mixing different types of music and create my own unique sound. It is my way of collecting things that I like and putting it together.
Edward: Where did the sound from your “Star In My Eyes”single come from?
Gowe: I participated in an event called Kollaboration Seattle. That is where my career got a spark. At first when I heard the track I didn’t like since it was a little pop-ish. They told me to write something and if I didn’t like it we could scrap it. So we did the promo and it got a lot of positive reception. It was a turning point in my career in which I realized I needed to stop boxing myself in. The thing is – it shouldn’t have been a song it was just a promo. The fans were asking for a full version of the song. The producer wanted $2,000 to finish it. So we did a Kickstarter crowd-sourcing campaing, paid the producer, and it became a song.
Edward: We see you doing stuff outside of the typical “church group” box. What sort of doors have opened to you from the Kollaboration promotion?
Gowe: It all breaks down to why I make music. My goal is to make Jesus known and glorify Him. So when people ask me if I am “Christian Hip Hop” artist I say no. I tell them I’m a rapper that who is Christian. There is nothing wrong making music for Christians or being really upfront with the Gospel. With that being said, I won’t compromise my faith and never glorify worldly things. My hope is that I can hook people with good music and then when they go on my social media they will see my love for Jesus. My goal at the end of the day is to reach the lost. It’s encouraging when I get support from the body of Christ. My whole goal at the end of the life is to show Christ what I did with my talent and how I reached the lost.
Edward: You talk about your family a lot and your relationship with your parents. Can you give some insight into that?
Gowe: My dad has always been super open. My father isn’t the typical Asian father. My mother is the typical Asian mother. She hasn’t come to liking what I do, but she accepts it. It becomes difficult to explain since my parents aren’t believers.
Edward: So your parents aren’t believers? Could you elaborate please?
Gowe: I didn’t know Christ until I was 17. A little bit after I came to know Christ my grandmother came to know Christ from one of my church outreach events. It was one of my greatest memories ever. My parents were from Hong Kong. My dad is very open. But if I would describe him he is a bit like a hippie. He is down-to-earth and open to a lot different things. I’m still ministering to him on that. My mom is more like an agnostic.
Edward: You did a song about how you were adopted. Could you describe the events that led up to you finding out that information?
Gowe:I wanted to go to Christian retreat up in Canada. I remember my youth pastor told me about the opportunity. I remember talking to my mom asking to get my documents for my passport. Her response was something along the lines of “I lost it.” This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. I got on the phone talked to my grandmother. That is when I came to find out I was adopted and not Chinese, but Korean. I went numb. It is like you wake up one day and someone tells you that not just that you are adopted, but another ethnicity. It was tough. My mom told me the story of my biological mother. So when I did Kollaberation I wanted to touch on something I never touched on before. So I wrote a song to my biological mom. The reaction to the song it got a lot of positive feedback. This is the story God has given me and I’ve embraced it.
Edward: Your next music video, “Aurora” got a lot of coverage on video game and anime outlets and on Rapzilla.com’s head to head battles. So what was the process behind making that song and video?
Gowe: I was working on “We are Hyper Giants” at the time. I really wanted to go with the spacey theme. A Hyper Giant is a star that has a short lifespan. For me, I don’t know how long I’m going to be on this earth. So while I’m shining at my brightest I want to reflect Christ. At the same time it is a person who can go against the system and be themselves. So I got the beat sample from Ronald Jenkees. I heard it and it was different. The biggest thing on my heart at the time was the idea of people being confined. It was a jab to critics. I finished the song and sent it to a videographer friend of mine. I pitched him the concept that was a bit more light-hearted. I had the idea of being sucked inside of an arcade game. Everything was hand drawn by him. He put in a lot of things in video that I didn’t even know from anime and games. So when I read the comments on IGN I was surprised by the references.
Edward: In the video you do something different. You rescue the damsel and then the damsel rescues you.
Gowe: Yeah. The reason we did that and didn’t pick up on the biggest concept of fighting the system. The villains have masks. The mask represents conformity. The ones showing their face are those that embrace creativity.
Edward: You have a lot of songs about dating. What inspires you to go into that topic mater?
Goew: I’m a big believer in Biblical dating. All these songs are for my future wife. I had been in one relationship in college. The relationship I had was Christ-centered. I talked to her father to get permission to date her. Her parents weren’t believers so it caused certain problems. Whenever my younger brother and sisters in the faith get into relationships they can end up in two directions. Either they fall more in love with Christ or fall out of love with Christ. I wanted to provide some direction and relate-ability. I am passionate about waiting for my future spouse and displaying Christian relationships.
Edward: What is your church life like? Who is Gifted On West East away from the stage?
Gowe: I’m a Life Group director for my church. We meet at church, but we also meet in people’s houses. We have 25 groups. My role is to shepherd the college, married, and single Life Group leaders. I go to All Nations Community Church.
Edward: What is one of the lessons you have learned from being a Life Group director?
Gowe:I’ve learned a lot about the background things. Church is made of broken people. When you are part of the staff things are a little different. It is a positive to invest in a couple of people. It is good to mentor people that are younger.
Edward: What are some of the activities you like doing in your local church?
Gowe: I like speaking. When the music is done, in the future I want to be a pastor. My pastor gives me a couple of times to speak a year. The next time I will speak will be kick off the next series.
Thanks for reading. I like to thank Gowe for his patience with the delays I had in writing the article. Check him out on Twitter @GoweHipHop. You can follow me on twitter @SpeakredWords. If you have any artist interview requests or topic requests hit me up on Twitter or leave a comment below.