Corey Gunz, “I’m Blessed w/a Great Opportunity Through Young Money.”
For the last two years, the Young Money/Cash Money camp has and continues to enjoy a spectacular run—between radio, press, Billboard charts, Internet presence, etc. Spearheaded by the No. 1 verb spitter and CEO, Lil Wayne, YM has since produced such all-star talent as Drake, Nicki Minaj, Tyga, Jae Millz, Gudda Gudda, with an army of equally talented artists waiting in the wings.
The latest Young Money acquisition is none other than the Bronx’s own Corey Gunz. A longtime free agent that’s been courted by countless labels due to his lyrical prowess, the Big Apple MC is now poised to take his underground buzz to mainstream airwaves. XXLMag.com recently snag an opportunity to chop it up with Corey and, much like his father, Peter Gunz, the kid’s got crazy game.
XXLMag.com: Congrats on the Young Money contract. How’s it been so far?
Corey Gunz: Young Money/Cash Money, honestly is No. 1. Wayne, Stunna, Slim, Mack and everyone over there is like family. Ever since the day I met Wayne and all of them, they’ve showed me love… It’s always been really cool and family orientated over there. I like using the word family when speaking on Young Money, because it’s real. It’s not just about the music. I feel that everyone is on the same page and focused on helping everyone get to that next level to succeed. I’m very happy to be a part of such a powerhouse.
Looking at the roster, you have Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Tyga and so many other capable stars in that camp. What does Corey Gunz have to do to stand out amongst that caliber of talent?
I think, ultimately, I have to do me. If you notice, everyone you mentioned on the team all made their own lanes and names for themselves where you know it’s Young Money because of the imprint and it’s family, but they’re out there heavy doing their own thing. Wayne, of course, started it because of his track record and work ethic, but the same goes for Drizzy, Nicki… Tyga doing his thing with Chris Breezy, Gudda and everyone else is doing their own thing, making their own noise. I’m just happy I can be somewhere and genuinely be myself and get credited for it. Young Money has given me the opportunity to just be me and we’re going to see where it goes so get ready!
You’re known for being a lyricist but the game is currently structured on commercial radio. Do you ever feel the need to dumb down your lyrics to gain radio airplay?
Absolutely, but at the same time, I don’t want people to take offense by that. I know the game has changed and a lot of people don’t want to sit and listen to lyrics as much as they used to. Although I feel it’s coming back around where people want to hear more substance and dialect, you have to balance it out. These days even with the mixtape tracks I record, I try to balance it out where my peers and the younger generation can hear exactly what I’m saying and have fun with it.
You’re one of the few artists that were literally born into the game. What kind of an influence did your father Peter Gunz and his success have on you?
My dad is very instrumental in my career. If it wasn’t for him, I definitely wouldn’t be in this game. I wouldn’t pick up a mic or pay hip-hop any attention. Without my father, I wouldn’t know what this is, so I always give my dad credit where it’s due. Through his experiences and what he has showed me over the years, I’ve been able to stay relevant and stand firm in the game where I am now. I have a lot of knowledge he’s instilled in me growing up in the game. Not just hip-hop, but music period. I listen to everything and everybody. I just want people to know I live and breathe this!
If you had to choose between recording and performing live, which one motivates you more?
Yo, that’s a real good question. (laughs) Like I said, I’m a music fiend first. I love performing, don’t get me wrong, but creating music, the whole creative process is just as much a rush for me as getting on stage. It’s something about performing for me to have the fans feel you live. For an artist to be on stage performing and a fan to respond to it is like you and that person or people being in sync or on the same page. You and the fans you perform for have something in common. When you’re on the stage in front of them, you share something compatible. I feel either way, I accomplished something. Whether it’s creating a hot song or performing it. I would say creating the track moves me a little more.
You’ve got an MTV reality series, Son of a Gun, coming up, as well as a Nike endorsement. How did these deals come about so early in your career?
As far as Son of a Gun, that was through Nick Cannon. It was a regular day, Nick Cannon is calling my phone and I don’t believe it’s him. I was going through the worst of times. It was actually Nick Cannon calling me and I denied his calls a few times. It took for my dad to say, “It’s really him and he wants to have a meeting and talk about a few things.” One thing led to another and now we have this reality show on MTV. The network just picked it up. Son of a Gun is basically about my life and upbringing in the industry. It will show everyone my growing process from the studio, ups and downs in my life and give the viewers more of an insight to who Corey Gunz is. I have nothing but the utmost respect for MTV. As for Nike, they reached out through this 5-borough NYC campaign they were promoting and choose me to be the ambassador for the Bronx. I was very appreciative for that. Nike is real dope for that.
Who is Corey Gunz checking for musically?
There are a few albums and artists I’m listening to; Eminem’s Recovery, Drizzy’s Thank Me Later and Rick Ross’ Teflon Don. Anyone that dropped over the summer, I checked for. I also peeped the Internet for up and coming artists, whether they freestyle or battle each other. I always look for what’s hot out there.
How do you feel the Internet has helped and hurt the game?
It’s the gift and the curse. I feel anything people can’t control or profit from may look at it as a loss, like music downloading. However, if you use the Internet to your advantage with viral videos, blogs, etc. it’s a win for everyone. For the people that take the time to create ideas for online purposes, you have fans out there that will sit and click what you provide to them. Some people would rather click and buy something online than go out to the store. Not to say people don’t go out to purchase music, because they do, it’s just a new era in the music industry. I think it’s great people are buying the artists’ product in general. I believe if the industry learns how to control the Internet more, it will have its advantages.
What statement does Corey Gunz want to make with his music?
Ultimately, what I rap about, I really go through. Like, a lot of people don’t take heed to that because I was always a shorty doing it. Whether I mention names and certain events, it’s not just a coincidence or stuff I write down to sound hot. What I speak about through my lyrics are actual things that happened. When I leave the game down the road or even now, I just want people to respect me and appreciate the fact that No. 1, I’m here to stay. No. 2, I breathe this and I take every second in my life honing my craft. I don’t play around with this. I’m not in the studio looking to spit a hot bar or 16 to complete a song and go home. I sit in the studio days, weeks and months, however long it takes until I’m happy with the product I put out to the masses. I’m blessed with a great opportunity through Young Money/Cash Money and I want the people to know I’m here and remember me. —Derryck "Nes" Johnson