HOPE IS ALIVE: NAVELLE HICE

CHESTER, PENNSYLVANIA | NAVELLE HICE

CHESTER, PENNSYLVANIA | NAVELLE HICE

INTERVIEW KB TINDAL PHOTOGRAPH RAINEY

NAVELLE HICE IS AN UPCOMING HIP HOP ARTIST FROM CHESTER, PENNSYLVANIA. IN THE LAST FEW YEARS HE HAS BEEN GAINING TRACTION ACROSS THE WORLD WITH HIS ART. HE HAS GRACED STAGES FROM THE WORLD'S FAMOUS APOLLO, 106 & PARK, SWAY IN THE MORNING AND MORE. AFTER MOVING TO ATLANTA TO FOCUS SOLELY ON MUSIC NAVELLE’S MUSIC HAS BEEN IN HEAVY ROTATION ON ATLANTA FM RADIO. AS A SELF-PROCLAIMED INSPIRATIONAL HIP HOP ARTIST HIS HOPEMAN PROJECTS, NOW ON ITS 3RD INSTALLMENT, ARE FILLED MESSAGES OF SURVIVAL, SACRIFICE, LOVE AND HAVING HOPE IN THE BIGGER PICTURE.

BUT ALL OF THIS ALMOST DIDN'T HAPPEN. A FEW YEARS BACK NAVELLE WAS SHOT AND HAD TO RECEIVE TWO SURGERIES AND IN THE END, HE HAD TO LEARN HOW TO WALK ALL OVER AGAIN. SINCE THAT INCIDENT, NAVELLE HAS FOUND HIS PURPOSE IN LIFE. HIS MUSIC IS ABOUT REAL-LIFE EXPERIENCES AND HE IS INSPIRING A WHOLE NEW GENERATION OF HIP HOP HEADS. WHETHER YOU PUT HIM IN THE GOSPEL CATEGORY FOR WHICH HE'S WON AWARDS OR THE HIP HOP CATEGORY, FOR WHICH HE HAS SEVERAL ACCOLADES, ONE THING IS CLEAR, NAVELLE IS ABOUT ENRICHING THE LIVES OF OTHERS AND LEAVING A LEGACY THAT HIS FAMILY CAN BE PROUD OF AND HE IS WELL ON HIS WAY TO BECOMING ONE OF THE GREATS. TAKE A WALK WITH VALIDATED MAGAZINE AS WE PROBE INTO THE LIFE AND MIND OF A TRUE TALENT, NAVELLE HICE.


“I DON’T BELIEVE MY MUSIC IS LIMITED TO ONE TYPE OF MUSIC GENRE”. I BELIEVE THE MESSAGE IN MY MUSIC WILL REACH ACROSS GENRE LINES. I’M AN INSPIRATIONAL HIP-HOP ARTIST WHO WILL ALLOW THOSE THAT LISTEN TO DEFINE WHAT THAT MEANS TO THEM.”

- NAVELLE HICE


VALIDATED: WHAT'S YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF HIP-HOP, THE CULTURE? 

NAVELLE HICE: MY EARLIEST MEMORY OF HIP HOP WAS DEFINITELY RAP... FASHION, AND GRAFFITI ALWAYS CAUGHT MY ATTENTION AS A CHILD.

VALIDATED: WHERE ARE YOU FROM AND WHAT'S THE STORY BEHIND YOUR RAP NAME?

NAVELLE HICE: I'M FROM CHESTER, PENNSYLVANIA, IT'S A SMALL CITY OUTSIDE OF PHILADELPHIA. MY RAP NAME IS ACTUALLY MY GOVERNMENT NAME. I WENT THROUGH THE STAGES OF DIFFERENT RAP NAMES THROUGHOUT MY CAREER AND THEN DECIDED THAT BEING MYSELF WAS ALL THE ORIGINALITY I NEEDED. 

VALIDATED: GROWING UP, WHAT KIND OF MUSIC WAS PLAYED IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD AND HOW HAS IT INFLUENCED THE MUSIC YOU CREATE? 

NAVELLE HICE: MY PARENTS ALWAYS LISTENED TO GOSPEL MUSIC WHEN I WAS GROWING UP. I WAS INTRODUCED TO HIP HOP IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. I FEEL LIKE WITH HAVING INFLUENCES FROM BOTH GENRES COMES OUT IN MY MUSIC TODAY. I BECAME FAMILIAR WITH DIFFERENT MELODIES, STYLES, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY THE MESSAGES BEHIND THE MUSIC.

VALIDATED: TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD GROWING UP AND HOW IT INFLUENCED YOU?

NEVELLE HICE: I GREW UP IN A NEIGHBORHOOD WHERE MOSTLY EVERYBODY KNEW EACH OTHER. YOU WOULD SEE FAMILIES, SOMETIMES VIOLENCE, AND PEACE ALL IN ONE. GROWING UP THERE IS WHAT GAVE ME THE HUNGER AND AMBITION THAT I HAVE TODAY. I ALWAYS FELT LIKE THERE WAS MORE TO THIS WORLD THAN WHAT I WOULD SEE EVERY DAY AND THAT CURIOSITY WOULD LEAD ME TO TAKE CHANCES. I GOT MY CONFIDENCE FROM THE SUPPORT AROUND ME, I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A LEADER AND NOTICED THE IMPACT I HAD ON THOSE AROUND ME.

VALIDATED: CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE SHOOTING THAT HAPPENED TO YOU, WHAT BROUGHT IT ABOUT AND HOW IT CHANGED YOUR LIFE? 

NAVELLE HICE: AT THE TIME MY CAREER WAS MOVING SO FAST. I WAS ON BET’S 106 & PARK, DOING SHOWS EVERY WEEKEND, MY MUSIC WAS ON PHILLY RADIO, AND MY NAME WAS SPREADING QUICKLY. I HAD A SHOW OUT OF TOWN THAT NIGHT. AS I WAS LEAVING THE VENUE I WAS SHOT AND ROBBED. THE BULLET WENT IN MY ABDOMEN AND TRAVELED THROUGH MY STOMACH, THEN EXITED LESS THAN AN INCH AWAY FROM MY SPINE. WHEN I FELL TO THE GROUND I IMMEDIATELY HAD NO FEELING IN MY LEGS. THE DOCTORS THOUGHT I WOULD BE PARALYZED. MY INJURIES NEEDED 2 SURGERIES, I WASN'T SURE IF I WOULD BE ABLE TO WALK AGAIN. MY LAST WEEK IN THE HOSPITAL, I STARTED TO GET PAIN IN MY FEET SO THAT WAS A GOOD SIGN THAT I COULD FEEL IT. ABOUT 6 MONTHS LATER AFTER DOING THERAPY AND DIFFERENT ROUTINES, I WAS WALKING WITH A CANE. THEN SOON AFTER I WAS ABLE TO FULLY WALK ON MY OWN AGAIN. MY WHOLE OUTLOOK ON LIFE CHANGED AFTER THAT MOMENT. I BEGAN TO LIVE LIFE KNOWING I HAVE A PURPOSE BECAUSE I'M HERE FOR A REASON. I BECAME MORE DRIVEN THAN EVER TO ACHIEVE EVERY GOAL I SET.    

VALIDATED: BEING A PRODUCT OF CHESTER, PA AND SEEING HOW NEIGHBORING PHILLY ARTIST MEEK MILL AND OTHER BLACK MEN IN THE COMMUNITIES OF PENNSYLVANIA AND COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE WORLD ARE BEING TREATED, WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON PRISON REFORM AND HOW WE SHOULD BE BUILDING UP OUR COMMUNITIES? 

NAVELLE HICE: WE FACE THE SAME CIRCUMSTANCES. JUST SEEING UNFAIR SITUATIONS, I THINK WE HAVE TO TAKE A STAND IN OUR COMMUNITIES BY GIVING GUIDANCE TO THE YOUTH AND MAKING OUR VOICES BE HEARD.

VALIDATED: WHO ARE YOUR TOP TWO LYRICAL INFLUENCES IN HIP HOP?

NAVELLE HICE: I WOULD HAVE TO SAY JAY Z WITH HIS WITTINESS, RELEVANCE, AND THE OVERALL GAME HE GIVES IN HIS MUSIC. SECOND, I WOULD HAVE TO SAY DRAKE.

VALIDATED: WHAT, IF ANYTHING DO YOU BORROW FROM THOSE ARTISTS? 

NAVELLE HICE: THE MAIN THING I BORROW IS SPEAKING ON MY LIFE AND WHERE I’M AT IN THE MOMENT OF EACH PROJECT. ALSO, ALWAYS MAKING SURE I GIVE SOME TYPE OF WISDOM, WHETHER IT’S LEARNING FROM MY OWN MISTAKES OR THE CHANCES AND RISK I TOOK TO GET WHERE I AM TODAY.

VALIDATED: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON YOUR CITY'S CURRENT HIP-HOP SCENE? 

NAVELLE HICE: MY CITY IS FULL OF TALENT, THERE ARE SO MANY DOPE ARTISTS IN CHESTER. WE DON’T HAVE MANY PLATFORMS OR OUTLETS FOR THE WORLD TO SEE THE TALENT THAT’S IN OUR SMALL CITY BUT THE ENERGY, HUNGER, AND VIBES ARE ALL OVER THE CITY.

VALIDATED: WHAT SACRIFICES HAVE YOU MADE OR THINGS THAT YOU HAD TO GO WITHOUT BECAUSE YOU'VE INVESTED IN YOUR ARTISTRY?

NAVELLE HICE: MANY SACRIFICES. I QUIT MY DAY JOB AND TOOK A LEAP OF FAITH AND MOVED TO ATLANTA, GA. I MOVED AWAY FROM ALL MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS AND HAD TO STEP OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE. I HAD TO GRIND AND MAKE A NAME FOR MYSELF TO GET SHOW BOOKINGS AND SELL MERCH. THERE WERE HARD TIMES AND GOOD TIMES. I'VE DONE SMALL SHOWS AND BIG SHOWS. STARTING FROM SCRATCH, ME AND MY WIFE TRAVELED AROUND DOING AS MUCH AS WE CAN TO KEEP THINGS ROLLING. NO ENTOURAGE OR BIG MACHINE BACKING ME, JUST ALL GROUNDWORK AND INDEPENDENT HUSTLE. I HAD TO SACRIFICE LIVING A CERTAIN LIFESTYLE TO FOCUS ON THE BIGGER PICTURE. THE GRIND NEVER STOPS, AND EVEN NOW WE ARE STILL PUSHING TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN BUT IN THE END IT'S ALL WORTH IT.

VALIDATED: AS A HIP-HOP ARTIST, WHAT DO YOU FEEL YOUR RESPONSIBILITY IS TO THE HIP-HOP CULTURE?

NAVELLE HICE: MY RESPONSIBILITY IS TO BRING SOMETHING NEW TO THE CULTURE. BEING A BREATH OF FRESH AIR AND LETTING MY LIGHT SHINE EVEN IN DARK PLACES. THE HOPE THAT I GIVE IS BASED ON REAL-LIFE EXPERIENCES AND WHAT GOD HAS DONE FOR ME. MY MUSIC WILL BRIGHTEN UP ANY MOOD YOU ARE IN AND GIVE A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE AND OUTLOOK ON LIFE.

VALIDATED: PEOPLE TRY TO PLACE YOU IN THE “GOSPEL” HIP HOP CATEGORY BUT FOR YOU, I KNOW ITS DEEPER THAN THAT. PLEASE EXPLAIN YOUR MUSIC IN YOUR OWN WORDS AND WHAT YOU WANT THE PUBLIC TO GET FROM IT?

NAVELLE HICE: I NEVER REALLY CONSIDERED MYSELF AS A GOSPEL ARTIST. MY MUSIC IS A TESTIMONY OF MY LIFE. I'VE DONE PERFORMANCES AT MANY CHURCHES AND ALSO DONE THOSE SAME SONGS IN CLUBS/HIP HOP VENUES AND FESTIVALS. MY MUSIC HAS BEEN PLAYED ON BOTH GOSPEL AND SECULAR RADIO STATIONS AND PLATFORMS. HIP HOP TO ME IS AN EXPRESSION OF WHO I AM AND THAT'S WHAT I GIVE IN MY MUSIC. IF PEOPLE WANT TO LABEL ME A GOSPEL ARTIST, THAT'S COOL. IF THEY WANT TO LABEL ME A HIP HOP ARTIST, THAT'S ALSO FINE WITH ME. AS LONG AS THE MESSAGE I’M GIVING IS BEING RECEIVED IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE TITLE BEHIND IT, THAT'S MY MAIN FOCUS. I DON'T MAKE MUSIC FOR ANY SPECIFIC GENRE, I JUST SPEAK FROM THE HEART FOR THOSE WHO CAN RELATE.

VALIDATED: HIP-HOP HAS GROWN IN POPULARITY OVER THE YEARS. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HIP-HOP BECOMING THE MOST POPULAR MUSIC GENRE?

NAVELLE HICE: I LOVE IT, HIP HOP CAN CATER TO MANY CROWDS. WHATEVER STYLE YOU HAVE OR WHATEVER TYPE OF MUSIC YOU'RE INTO, THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING YOU CAN FIND THAT CATERS SPECIFICALLY TO YOU. THERE ARE PLENTY OF OPTIONS THAT HIP HOP HAS TO OFFER. THE MORE POPULAR IT GETS, THE MORE VOICES CAN BE HEARD.

VALIDATED: YOUR LATEST SINGLE IS, "55 IN A WEEK" PRODUCED BY (VON VUAI), WHAT’S THE MOTIVATION BEHIND THE RECORD?

NAVELLE HICE: WHEN VON SENT ME THAT BEAT, HE TITLED IT “55 IN A WEEK”. ONCE I HEARD IT, I IMMEDIATELY FELT THE SAME VIBE. MY WIFE HAD JUST TOLD ME WE WERE EXPECTING MY FIRST SON. I HAD MANY EMOTIONS, HAPPINESS, AND NERVOUSNESS AT THE SAME TIME. ALL I COULD THINK ABOUT WAS PROVIDING FOR MY FAMILY AND JUST GOING INTO OVERDRIVE WITH MY WORK. MOST FULL-TIME JOBS ARE 40 HOURS PER WEEK BUT THE GRIND I HAD, FELT LIKE I WAS DOING OVERTIME, LIKE 55 HOURS IN A WEEK. I WAS RECORDING NEW MUSIC EVERY DAY, EDITING MY OWN VIDEOS, RELEASING MUSIC EVERY WEEK AND JUST TURNING UP MY HUSTLE TO PREPARE FOR THE NEW JOURNEY.

VALIDATED: WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE "55 IN A WEEK" AS THE LEAD SINGLE?

NAVELLE HICE: I RELEASED ABOUT 4 OFFICIAL VIDEOS FROM MY PROJECT SO FAR. I DIDN'T GO WITH A SINGLE ROUTE, THIS TIME I WANTED TO FOCUS ON THE OVERALL PROJECT. SO I SHOT VIDEOS FOR THE MOST POPULAR SONGS FIRST BUT EVENTUALLY, I PLAN TO RELEASE A VIDEO FOR EVERY SONG ON THE “HOPEMAN 3” ALBUM.

VALIDATED: WHAT'S YOUR REACTION TO THE RESPONSE TO THE RECORD?

NAVELLE HICE: THE RECORD DID EXACTLY AS I PLANNED FOR IT TO DO. I WANTED TO MOTIVATE PEOPLE. WHEN YOU HEAR THE SONG YOU CAN FEEL THE ENERGY FROM IT. FROM THE CATCHY HOOK, TO WHAT’S BEING SAID IN THE VERSES, I’M GLAD PEOPLE GRAVITATED TO IT THE WAY THEY DID.

VALIDATED: YOU RECENTLY DROPPED "HOPEMAN 3". WHICH ARTIST AND PRODUCERS DID YOU WORK WITH ON THE PROJECT?

NAVELLE HICE: USUALLY, ON MOST OF MY ALBUMS, I USE THE SAME PRODUCERS AND I BARELY DO FEATURES. I LOVE TO COLLAB WITH OTHER ARTISTS BUT WHEN I’M IN ALBUM MODE I WANT PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND WHO NAVELLE HICE IS. EACH SONG HAS A PERSONAL MEANING AND IS BASED ON WHAT I’M GOING THROUGH AT THE TIME. ON THIS ALBUM, ALL OF THE SONGS ARE PRODUCED BY ROZART AND VON VUAI. 

VALIDATED: WHAT DO YOU WANT LISTENERS TO GET FROM THE PROJECT?

NAVELLE HICE: “HOPEMAN 3” IS ABOUT THE LEGACY I’M GOING TO LEAVE FOR MY SON AND MY FAMILY. THROUGHOUT THE ALBUM I REFLECT BACK ON THE MOMENTS THAT GOT ME WHERE I’M AT, AND WHERE I’M HEADING. IT’S THE PROCESS OF PREPARING FOR SOMETHING BIGGER THAN MYSELF. BRINGING YOU INTO MY WORLD AND LETTING YOU ENJOY THE JOURNEY WITH ME.

VALIDATED: WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE TRACK OFF THE PROJECT AND WHY?

NAVELLE HICE: MY FAVORITE TRACK WOULD HAVE TO BE “LEGACY”. IT’S THE LAST SONG ON THE TAPE THAT WRAPS UP THE WHOLE PROJECT. I WROTE THAT SONG FOR MY SON BEFORE HE WAS BORN, THE MEANING AND EMOTION BEHIND IT WAS SOMETHING THAT WILL FOREVER BE CHERISHED.

VALIDATED: HOW DO YOU FEEL YOU'VE GROWN AS AN ARTIST SINCE YOU’VE COME INTO THE GAME?

NAVELLE HICE: I BECAME MORE COMFORTABLE WITH BEING MYSELF AND STAYING TRUE TO MY MORALS AND BELIEFS. I DO WHAT FEELS NATURAL INSTEAD OF TRYING TO FIT INTO THE TRENDS. EVERY ALBUM I RELEASE YOU CAN HEAR THE GROWTH AND MATURITY IN MY CONTENT, LYRICS, AND OVERALL SONGWRITING. WHEN YOU FOLLOW YOUR HEART YOU CAN NEVER GO WRONG.

VALIDATED: WHAT DOES HIP-HOP MEAN TO YOU?

NAVELLE HICE: HIP HOP IS MY LIFESTYLE. THE WAY I TALK, THE WAY I DRESS, EVERYTHING ABOUT ME IS HIP HOP. IT GAVE ME A VOICE TO SPEAK TO PEOPLE WHO I MAY HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO REACH. BUT NOW MY VOICE CAN BE HEARD ACROSS THE NATION THROUGH HIP HOP.

VALIDATED: IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT'S THE CURRENT STATE OF HIP-HOP? 

NAVELLE HICE: I THINK HIP HOP IS IN A GOOD STATE. IT’S CONSTANTLY EVOLVING, AND IT HAS SOMETHING TO OFFER TO EVERYONE. WHEN YOU SEARCH PAST THE NONSENSE YOU CAN FIND THAT THE FUTURE OF HIP HOP IS IN GOOD HANDS.

VALIDATED: DO YOU FEEL MAINSTREAM HIP-HOP ARTISTS ARE DOING JUSTICE WITH RAP?

NAVELLE HICE: I THINK EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN CROWD. EVEN CERTAIN MUSIC I MAY NOT AGREE WITH OR LIKE, THERE ARE STILL MANY PEOPLE WHO CAN RELATE IN A DIFFERENT WAY. I THINK A LOT OF GOOD MUSIC DOESN'T REALLY GET MAINSTREAM ATTENTION BUT ALL IT TAKES IS FOR ARTISTS TO KEEP BREAKING BARRIERS AND KNOCKING THE DOOR DOWN. A LOT OF WHAT'S MAINSTREAM USUALLY DOESN'T LAST FOR LONG, BUT GOOD MUSIC WILL STAY FOREVER.

VALIDATED: TELL US ABOUT OTHER VENTURES YOU'RE CURRENTLY WORKING ON. 

NAVELLE HICE: I’M ACTUALLY IN THE PROCESS OF STARTING A FAMILY VLOG SERIES TO SHOW PEOPLE SOMETHING OUTSIDE OF THE MUSIC. TRAVELING, SPENDING TIME WITH FAMILY AND DOCUMENTING CHERISHABLE MOMENTS FOR PEOPLE TO SEE AND GET INSPIRED. I WANT TO GIVE A POSITIVE OUTLOOK ON FATHERHOOD AS AN ARTIST. ALSO, I’LL BE RELEASING NEW “HOPEMAN 3” MERCH SOON AND STARTING THE TEAM LIVING PROOF CLOTHING BRAND. 

VALIDATED: WHERE CAN THE READERS SUPPORT YOU AND YOUR MUSIC ONLINE AND SOCIAL MEDIA? 

NAVELLE HICE: THEY CAN FOLLOW ME ON ALL SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS @NAVELLEHICE. MY OFFICIAL WEBSITE IS WWW.NAVELLEHICE.COM, WHERE YOU CAN BUY MERCH, MUSIC AND CHECK OUT THE LATEST NEWS.



Troy HendricksonComment