After a self-described period of spiritual awakening, a return to Columbus after college and a chance to fully focus on making an album, Columbus hip-hop artist Greg Owens has released an LP with a new sound and a newfound sense of vulnerability and empathy.
Owens’ latest LP, “Eclectic Soul,” is much more cohesive than his earlier self-titled project, “The Greg Owens Project.” His previous work, released in 2015 after Owens left Columbia College of Chicago and returned to Columbus, featured tracks that he had written and recorded in 2011.
“I had like super writer’s block during that time, and the only time when I really made music was when I had those times when I was home,” Owens said. “You really have to have that laser-sharp focus … I don’t like to force anything.”
Owens’ relationship with music began as a 3-year-old when he learned to play drums. As a kid, he played in church performances and in school bands, but didn’t really get into making hip-hop music until he was 13, when he started to make beats with his friends.
“From there … to I’d say my junior year of high school, I didn’t really take it that seriously, I just did it for fun,” Owens said. “But, I think … my senior year of high school I really felt I could do something special with it.”
Owens cited Kanye West as a major influence behind his switch to becoming a serious artist, as well as an inspiration to bring authenticity and vulnerability to the work he produces.
“I was always amazed about how [West’s] music stood out the most, but a lot of people gravitated towards it because it was so authentic and so once I realized that, I started putting my own authenticity to my records,” Owens said. “People want to know who you are, and so, you know, I just kind of made a conscious decision that whatever music I make is going to reflect me and the music I like and what I’ve been through.”
Owens said that spirit of authenticity and emotional connection is at the heart of “Eclectic Soul,” which features songs about relationships, self-love, spirituality and other personal experiences.
In creating “Eclectic Soul,” Owens collaborated with other artists around Ohio, including Tripp Fontane, a spoken-word artist from Dayton, and local hip-hop artists TrigNO, Kashis Keyz and more.
“I’d call myself a curator … [but] I also trusted [the other artists] with their writing abilities and what they bring to the table as far as the project is concerned,” Owens said. “Everything was organic and incredibly fun as well.”
Owens said Columbus, even when compared to Chicago, is a great place to collaborate with other artists because of the strong sense of community between the city’s artists and musicians.
“[It’s] not just hip-hop, but I enjoy the rock scene, the R&B scene [and] the gospel scene here,” Owens said. “It’s a lot to sink your teeth into.”