To say that Atlanta is merely having a moment, would be to overlook decades of the region’s impact on hip-hop culture at large. From Outkast and Goodie Mob, Ludacris and T.I., to Migos, Young Thug, and Future, the proof is there. Atlanta has long been an inimitable force.
1K Phew is among a new breed of Atlanta artists taking the trap sensibility and elevating it to great effect. His smooth delivery and evocative vocal tone pair well with the bouncy, energetic production that defines his sound. At just 23 years old, Phew’s rise from a local rapper with swagger to compelling artist equipped with a message has been refreshing to watch. He’s fun and engaging, no doubt, but he’s so much more. As evidenced by his mixtapes Sunday Night (2015) and Life (2016), Phew’s got plenty of swag and wisdom to impart, and people are beginning to connect with his candid approach. There’s a sense of transparency that comes through in his music, a kind of refined rawness that can only be gained through experience and honing your craft. To let him tell it: “I’m not worried about being politically correct. I just want to give people the real. That’s where the 1K comes from, always keeping it 1,000 no matter what.”
This sort of genuine directness is what resonates with his audience, and his growing platform is a clear reflection of his passion to share his story. “The story I’m telling is how I overcame my obstacles,” he says. “You can’t force anybody to follow your way but you can let your light shine and watch them come to you.” The past he speaks of is one that rings true for the many who grew up in similar circumstances. But even though Phew had it better than some of his peers, having grown up with two praying parents who encouraged him in his gifting, he still found himself going down a destructive path as a teen. It wasn’t until he and his friends almost got shot one day that Phew decided to truly surrender his life to God and His plan. “That was a turning point for me. From then on, I was different.”
Phew’s ability to take his past and redeem it for a greater purpose is something you can feel and relate to. Tracks like “TGIF” and “Church Gone Wild,” his biggest release to date, show an artist who is vibrant and dynamic. His sing/rap flow has an infectious quality that is as catchy as it is alluring, and commercially viable as it is street-wise. “I’m just a young kid from Atlanta with something to say,” he confesses. His new mixtape Never Too Late is sure to build on his recent momentum, with bangers like “Back Then” and “Load of Me,” an anthem for those not afraid to embrace their individuality.
It’s no surprise that his sound—which Phew has dubbed “New CHUUCH”—is equally at home in the club or the church, and rappers like 1K Phew are proving that faith expressed with authenticity can be a welcome treat for listeners. “I just want to share my life through this music. My message is faith and hope.”