In an attempt to shine light on local music, The Lantern’s “Columbus’ Own” is a weekly series that profiles a new Columbus band or artist each week.
On Jan. 22, Columbus rapper Correy Parks celebrated the passing of another year surrounded by family, friends and fans, but he was hypnotically encapsulated in a world of his own. Although Parks was celebrating his birthday in an ideal environment, he was the only one who brought a present to his own party at the Park Street Saloon.
That gift was the exclusive unveiling of his soon-to-be-released EP, “The Road Less Traveled.” Parks noted that his location that day at his first listening party perfectly positioned him in a soul-searching stare down with the audience.
After he introduced each track with a personal anecdote, Parks said he went into observation mode after pushing play — an attempt to evaluate the impact of his lyrical journeys on others.
“A lot of what we’re trying to do is build with our fans and make them feel incorporated with what we’re doing,” Parks said. “So we wanted to give some people the opportunity to hear it early and feel like they’re a part of everything we’re doing, because it’s definitely a project that speaks to everyone.”
The stories that Parks shares in his songs translate as relatable, yet unmeditative. “Rollin,” one of the cuts off of “TRLT,” confronts personal struggles, such as the foreclosure of his family’s home and combating a negative body image.
Parks uses songwriting to tackle these particular demons, so when he discusses bleak topics in person, there is hardly any hesitation or somberness in his voice.
“I think normally in the past I might’ve been nervous, but I’m really coming into my own as far as my confidence and understanding my sound and how it relates to people, so I felt very confident,” Parks said.
The past that Parks refers to took place in 2013, the year he decided to devote his life primarily to music. The commitment came shortly after his sister passed away from a battle with lupus, a life-altering moment that pushed Parks to pursue his passion instead of wallowing away in an undesirable occupation.
Upon establishing himself as a potential link to others’ successes under The Lock and Key Co. label — a group of young artists he affiliates with — Parks unknowingly began a musical trilogy that uses travel as a metaphor.
The journey that Parks would go on to outline over three EPs — “The Layover,” “#LostLuggage,” and “TRLT” — was his split from the mundane office-place workstyle.
“I’ve never been able to accept working for someone or doing things I don’t like to do, but once I found my passion, what I really felt I was supposed to do, it changed everything,” Parks said.
Trends always come and go, thrive and die, so when flipping through Parks’ dialogue, it feels more like a diary of personal life lessons. His sound does not correspond with the waves of mainstream radio, which makes storytelling an integral part of Parks’ brand.
“He’s very open, and you feel like you can talk to him about anything,” said Anna Maconachy, public relations and social media coordinator for Lock and Key. “He’s just genuine.”
“The Layover,” “#LostLuggage” and “TRLT” lead up to his next project and first LP, titled “Seoul Sabbatical,” a musical discussion that draws inspiration from an eye-opening trip to Seoul, South Korea, which is his family’s homeland. It is that type of discussion that Maconachy says makes Parks somewhat of the people’s rapper.
“I’m finding the power in being vulnerable with yourself and being able to share your experiences,” Parks said.
Only a handful have felt the energy of the project, and even though fans have bits and pieces of released audio to feed excitement, Parks is itching to play Santa and drop “TRLT” in its entirety.
“I feel like he is somebody that is more selfless, more caring about others than himself,” said Marquise Mays, Parks’ manager. “He has a really good soul, and he’s a really good person, and he wants to see the good in everything.”
Rappers tell either the story of others or their own, and Parks is on the path to achieving both. He believes his life lessons can generally inspire the entire population. For now, he’s working his way through Columbus.
“I strongly believe in telling the universe what you want and writing things and manifesting what you want,” Parks said.
On Jan. 22 Parks was able to tell a sliver of the Columbus community his aspirations and dreams, as his project played front to back in public for the first time. He took that time to study the emotional connections his lyrics might have been forming.
With the upcoming release of his EP, his series of journey-based projects is approaching an end. He’s inviting all to join along.