Navelle Hice is one of CHH’s hottest new artists, and he’s only getting hotter. It’s been a busy year for Navelle, releasing his second full-length project, Hopeman, featuring on Rap Remnant’s Dope Unknowns, and his latest project: the Saturday Sunday EP with his group BinChivalry. The Chester, PA native got his musical start as a mainstream artist by the name of Young Chiefy appearing on BET’s 106 and Park, performing at the world famous Apollo Theatre, The Philadelphia Eagles Stadium and the opening act for the UniverSoul Circus in Philadelphia, PA.
With all the things Navelle accomplished, there was still something missing. In early 2015, after his Damascus road encounter with God, Navelle made a drastic change in his career by dropping his stage name and all that was associated with “Chiefy”, to embark on the new journey in his life and to be known simply by his birth name, Navelle Hice.
We got a chance to chop it up with Navelle about his life, career, and more. Check it out:
If your life or music career had a headline, what would it be?
I am “Living Proof” that miracles happen and dreams come true!
That’s probably one of realest headlines you could have. I say that because, a riveting part of your testimony comes from a time when you were shot and almost killed. How does that event change the way you see life & relationships on a daily basis?
I would have to say that it made me cherish life a lot more. Not taking any day for granted. After going through what I did and not knowing if I would live or even be able to walk again, it causes you to look at things from a whole new perspective. I mean, I just couldn’t see where my life was going having to go through therapy to learn techniques on how to live in case I never regained feeling in my legs or feet was very humbling to say the least. To think of not being able to do simple things like standing up, not going to the bathroom on my own, putting my socks on or even dressing myself, I’ll never forget it. After getting through all of this took my faith to a whole other level. I was like, wow, God is still performing miracles and he is doing it through me. This whole situation help me to see that God definitely had a purpose for my life, even though at the time I wasn’t quite sure what that purpose was, but, I was 100 % sure that there was a reason I was still here. I would say my appreciation level for God’s grace & mercy definitely was at an all time high! I believe I became more determined than ever, more motivated and ready to live out my purpose unapologetically! I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that “no weapon formed against me shall prosper” and this was just a minor setback for my major comeback. I now have a testimony that I can share with this generation to show them that with God all things are possible and I am “Living Proof” of that. As far as relationships go, this experience gave me an even greater appreciation for those people God placed in my life who were there for me the whole time, loving and supporting me. It really opened my eyes to the things that were really important in life and that wasn’t things at all, but, people such as my family, my church family & my friends. I can now walk in the confidence of knowing that God has my back and there is nothing that can stop HIS plans for my life!
I know that’s right, if God is for us, who can be against us! Now less than a year ago you made a major life move, getting married. How has marriage changed things for you in terms of your pursuit of a music career?
Marriage is one of the best things that happened to me. To know that I now have my own family relying on me, looking to my leadership makes me want to go even harder. Throughout this time in my music career, I’ve encountered people who had good intentions and some with not so good intentions, but, one thing that has been consistent is the support and encouragement I receive from my wife. I never ever had to question her loyalty, I knew for a fact that she always wanted what was best for me and she didn’t just say it, she showed me time and time again. Having her in my life is definitely one of my greatest blessings, and I must say I’m more humble, more appreciative and a whole lot wiser. Music has always been fun for me, but now it’s my profession, so every move, every decision, and every investment has to make sense. The things my wife and I have done together in this past year is just mind blowing, and I wouldn’t want to have this experience with anyone else by my side. What we’ve built together to me is worth more than anything I’ve done when I was surrounded by a bunch of people.
That’s awesome, a wife is God’s gift to men because He knows we can’t do it alone. Speaking of your career, do you feel that you are underrated as an artist?
Oh, most definitely, lol! It’s funny because I never felt like I got the credit I deserved. Don’t take this wrong, I’m not being arrogant or even boastful. I know the work ethic I’ve had for years, I have definitely put the hard work in. When I think about things that I have been able to do as an artist and sometimes being the “first” to do so, it’s very humbling to me. Now, I’m not going to lie, this journey has been difficult at times, putting my blood, sweat and tears into this, just to have my hard work not acknowledged or celebrated. I have done things that others are now doing and they are getting the credit like it was their original idea, but, I guess that’s all a part of the territory. I just resolved that it is what it is and as long as I know what I did, that has to be good enough for me. I remember winning the competition to appear on BET’s 106 and Park, I mean back home, it was a big deal, I was interviewed by our local newspaper, everybody was talking about it, this was a first. I had to go through a very difficult audition process rapping against rappers from all over the country ( of course this was when i went by the name “Young Chief”!). I had the opportunity to appear on the show twice, now, I didn’t win either competitions (which I thought I should have, LOL), the focus clearly shifted from me winning to even be able to compete, to now the criticism. I guess I’ll never figure out why it’s so difficult for people to celebrate the success of others. For me, I’ve always been the guy who don’t have a problem showing love to others. If someone needed my help, I was there, I would show up at their events or whatever, but, that’s just me. I can go on and on with examples about why I feel like I am underrated as an artist, but, I’m just going to choose to leave this here. I know people are watching and they see what I’m doing and how I’m building, I really do hope that in some way they see me as inspiration to work hard and stay the course no matter what obstacle you have to overcome. I can only focus on the race the God has given me, and I will not allow myself to be distracted by things that are designed to take me off course. At the end of the day, I just want God to be pleased with me, to hear that well done at the end, will make all I’ve gone through worth it!
That is the ultimate reward, to hear well done. I think you’re definitely on your way to the next level. I was very impressed with your Hopeman project, how long did it take to put together?
Well, after the release of my freshman project, “Faith Hope & Love on June 27, 2015, I felt a new found freedom from all that I was going through at that time. A short time after that I felt very strongly about releasing some new music with all that I had on my mind, I wanted to get it out, and the best way for me to express that is through the music. In November of 2015, I put out a freestyle mixtape, but, I still knew I was ready to do an album. I was at a new place in my life and the feeling of hope just overtook me. The Hopeman project was created in just a matter of weeks, the entire tape was recorded in three days! This music was definitely created to help people to get through difficult periods in their lives. This message of hope, even helped me get through times of discouragement and I knew it had to get out to the people. I remember while writing, I literally felt like I was talking to myself, like saying, “It’s going to work out”, “Don’t let nobody put their fears on you”, “I’ll Never stop” and more. I feel like it’s a very strong project and I will be putting my focus on it for a while until it reaches as many people as possible.
(Checkout our review of Hopeman HERE)
What would you say is your favorite song on the project and why is that?
I would have to say my favorite song would have to be “Don’t Let Nobody”. The reason this is one of my favorite songs is because of where I was in my life at the time I made it. During this time I was fresh off of taking that huge leap of faith by moving here to Atlanta from Chester, PA. I mean I really almost didn’t make the move because I was beginning to internalize the fears of others and taking them on as my own. I had people tell me, you are crazy if you quit your job and go down there without having a job in line, people would say things to me all the time about all the different reasons they didn’t think I should make this move. It was so very frustrating to me because I knew I had a peace about the move, but, now, I began questioning whether this was the right thing to do or not. I really had no idea what I was moving to Atlanta for, I just knew I had to be obedient to what I was hearing. Actually, I think it may be a tie between “Don’t Let Nobody” & “I Declare” as my favorite songs from the Hopeman project.
I Declare is one of my favorites as well. In terms of future projects, who are some artists in the CHH arena that you would like to work with?
I would like to work with Lecrae and Reach Records. Mainly because during my transition, his music had a huge impact on me. I was able to relate to the things they were saying and did. I actually didn’t know there was a whole Christian Hip Hop community until some time later. I’m still trying to familiarize myself with the different artist in CHH. I remember doing the Kingdom Experience at SXSW this year and I kind of felt like an outsider. I didn’t know who was who except for a few artists I was told about. Other than that I’ve been working with Cellus Hamilton and Jordan Moreland. We all have a solid relationship and are passionate about the message in our music. We recently put out a group EP titled Bin ChiValry “Saturday Sunday”.
I can’t say that I saw the group thing coming, but you guys sound dope together. Hip-Hop groups are almost extinct nowadays, especially in CHH. On Don’t Let Nobody you said “Even Christian Hip-hop is full of politics.” Can you expound on that a little more?
Sure, when I first made the change, I had a image in my mind about how different it would be from the secular music world. I guess my expectations were a bit unrealistic. I thought that since we’re all brothers and sisters in Christ and we all out here reppin the Kingdom of God, it would be a lot easier to build relationships with other artists, I mean I thought yeah we are all of like mind. It didn’t take long at all for me to realize that this was just hopeful thinking. I just knew for sure that I would feel the love and support from my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, but, I soon saw this was just business as usual. I’ve had instances when I was passed over for opportunities because I didn’t have a big enough name or that my following wasn’t in the thousands in the CHH community. In other cases where I was given the opportunity, I was put in for time slots that weren’t prime for attendance (I still performed like it was thousands in there!). I can also talk about how people try to devalue your gift because your not nationally known.They say things like we would love for you to come and have an expectation for you to perform for free. They have the budgets for the event, but, not to pay the artists that are helping to make their events a success. I know I give 110% each time I hit the stage. Some of these people tell me they don’t have budgets for the event, but, then they are willing to pay whatever the costs for the artists they feel are more “well known” . I don’t want to make it seem that it’s all about the money, but, when you are doing this as your full time job, I think people should be considerate of that. Now, again, this is not everybody, but, just some things I’ve witnessed as being a new comer to the CHH scene. I wonder sometimes how people would actually feel if their bosses asked them to work their full time job for free, then at the end, just say thank you. The Word of God tells me that a workman is worthy of his hire. You definitely have to know your worth and not settle for anything less than. Another thing is that I thought some of these more notable names would be more willing to reach back and help someone else on the same journey, but, that’s not the case, at least not from my perspective. It really is like every man for himself, that took a lot to digest it all because you would kind of expect these things in the secular world, but, I totally didn’t expect it for the CHH world.
There have been times when I reached out to different CHH sites to see how it all worked and I was shocked beyond belief when I saw the amount of money they asked for just to get a video played on their site, I soon realized that there wasn’t much difference between CHH and secular sites. Now, if I had the number of followers/views then that video would instantly go up. I feel like good music is good music, so if you have a platform to reach an audience of people, and you know music is good, why not help to promote it? Why not be willing to give them a chance? Everybody has a genesis. In my opinion, it seems as if some people in the CHH community want to wait until everybody hops on a wave before they even consider promoting them good, That’s why I have so much appreciation for you all at Rap Remnant because you never hesitated supporting me because you actually believe in the music.
I feel you, and think that’s one of a few reasons why some artists are choosing to leave the genre. You had a pretty promising career before turning to Christ, do you ever wish that you would have just become a “positive” rapper instead of going the Christian Hip-hop route?
Well, no, actually I don’t like to label myself as being one type of artist. I would have to say that I have always been a “positive” rapper. My greatest issue before the change was the content of what I was rapping about like mixing in things like being boastful, being at the club and that type of stuff. I never degraded women, I didn’t curse in my songs ( maybe back in my very early days I did, lol). I still view myself as a positive rapper, some people hear my music and think Christian Hip Hop, some hear it and think Hip Hop, and others just hear the music. I leave it up to the listeners to decide what category they think I fall in. I don’t want to limit myself by being boxed in, the music I perform at a church or Christian event is the same music that I perform at a secular event. My only goal is to get the message out to those who need it.
Dope, and I definitely feel that. What’s next for Navelle Hice?
Oh, I’m always working! I’m planning to release some new videos, I have so much music already lined up just waiting for the right time to be released. I just released a group album project and just continue working hard and making my way through. I feel like I’m in a good space right now, growing spiritually, growing in my leadership role for my family, and giving my all to my career. Everything happens in God’s perfect time, so, I’m just listening to what he says and being patient . In the meantime, the grind never stops, I’ll continue to be consistent. I’ll be everywhere God has for me to go spreading this message, and in the near future I’ll be putting on a tour!