Ohio has given birth to many greats in the music industry. Artists like The O’Jays, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and Kid Cudi have all had an impact on their generation's culture with their distinct sounds and vivid storytelling. ‘70s R&B group The O’Jays exhibited simplicity in their lyrics about love, friendship, and even backstabbers, which set them apart from the usual formulaic hit songs. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony blazed the charts in the the ‘90s with hard tales coated in melody. Then, in the mid-2000s, Kid Cudi mixed a variety of different genres to create his own emotionally charged sound that went on to inspire Kanye West. Individuality may just be what these Ohio artists have in common.
Newcomer Correy Parks, a rapper from Ohio’s capital, Columbus, is also creating his own lane. On his new EP, The Road Less Traveled, he pairs self-reflective, poetic lyrics with soulful beats that have a raw, unfinished quality—which is fitting because it’s a soul-searching journey he finds himself on. Is there a such thing as a road less traveled or are we all on individual paths yearning to be unraveled? he raps on the title track. Intertwine with like minds wanting to teach us lessons of mankind through borrowed eyes.
During a recent phone interview, Parks discussed who he is as a person and how he wants his music to be perceived. His zen-filled voice spoke only in a positive manner. Hell, even his laughs were contagious.
Who is Correy Parks?
I'm a passionate individual. I'm a person who believes that we all hold a greater purpose to the world than we know and it lies within our passions. And I think that if more people find what their passion truly is, the world would become a better place. Not in any type of cliché, corny way—it’s genuine, I want everyone to be able to feel this way, you know, because I think everyone not only has it in them, but deserves it.
What does passion mean to you?
The most purest thing you have is your passion. It's God-given. It's truly your purpose. I think we get so caught up in materialism and and social hierarchy that we forget that it's this beautiful thing that we already have in us that’s the most important. So it's like it’s the compass; if you follow it, it has no choice but to lead you to where you're supposed to be.
How did you develop such a conscious mindset?
I wasn't always in tune. I always felt like I was always different. I definitely never followed the trend. I've been in some bad areas and I was never attracted towards that lifestyle. It just definitely strengthens a lot of areas in my life about how I view myself, how I view the world, and what my place is. So it kind of just helped—it's carrying me, balancing me, and strengthens me as I go.
“I am here to do what I can for the world, not just waste a platform.”—Correy Parks
What the music vibe in Ohio?
Ohio is a blend of so many different cultures, ethnicities, backgrounds—totally different things that [makes] our music different. We have people that just do their own things and it's their own sound. It's really cool when it's just them and it's not trying to sound like anything else; that's when it always stands out. And I think that's what we're about—just being ourselves, just this blend of all these different types of backgrounds and understanding.
When did you realize that you could rap?
I actually didn't rap for the longest. I used to write poetry when I was younger. I mean, I would rap along to songs. But I didn't ever write raps. I think I maybe wrote one in high school just trying to be funny but it was pretty terrible so I never did it again until [I was] 22 or 23. I wrote to "Jodeci Back" and I felt like I really snapped on it. So that’s when I realized, "Okay, I can actually spit."
What is the difference between rapping and poetry?
Poetry is more slow expressive, if I make sense. Like slow to unwind, whereas hip-hop is a little more direct. You have to learn to fit so many words to express the message, whereas [with] poetry you can kind of go at whatever pace you really want to go.
How do you want listener to perceive The Road Less Traveled?
I hope they get my intention. I hope listeners understand that I'm here for a passionate purpose. I am here for positivity. I am here to do what I can for the world, not just waste a platform. I'm here for a purpose. Get people inspired to do what they have to do and live how they are supposed to live.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I'm an optimist so I dream very big, but I believe. I believe in my skills and they're growing. But ultimately I want to do music to get the platform to do business. I feel like I want to own business and create facilities that help people find their passion and get connected and things like that. Right now, music is aa vessel that gets me to where I want to be. But I do love it. And I love it that it allows me to express myself. I'm just trying to get the platform and resources so I can really do my part to try to help the world.