Greek-Americans have been recognized for their accomplishments and immeasurable contributions to the United States in many areas ranging from politics to the arts and music. Talented artists such as the monumental Maria Callas revived classical coloratura roles and former American Idol contestant Constantine Maroulis helped put Greece on the map in the music industry and Broadway. A new dynamic wave of young Greek Americans are now adding Hip Hop to this expanding list. Meet Andrew Parks who goes by Drew32, an 18-year-old Greek-American rhythmic rapper/producer from Troy, Michigan, which is just north of Detroit.
By Maria A. Pardalis
Despite his frenetic schedule, the young rapper took some time out of his crazy day to chat with me.
MAP: Glad to see a Greek-American making his mark in the world of hip hop! You say you are of Greek American and Cretan descent, Crete is part of Greece, why have you chosen to put an emphasis on this?
Drew32: Because the Kritiki are so damn clannish! Ha-ha. Everyone on the Cretan side of my family calls themselves Cretan, not Greek. It's sort of like the Sicilians in Italy.
MAP: Your formal last name Parks doesn’t sound very Greek. How are you Greek and do you speak the language?
Drew32: My grandfather changed his name from Papistas to Parks to make it easier when the family came to America. No I don't speak that much Greek, but I can understand quite a bit.
MAP: What inspired you to purse a career in the music industry and how old were you when you first got your start?
Drew32: I really fell in love with the music making experience after being in a recording studio for the first time when I was about 9 years old. I loved listening to rap on the radio and I realized I had a talent for it when I could rap every word to Lil' Bow Wow's songs.
MAP: You have said that you are “a rapper first and a singer second”. Why rap?
Drew32: Well I guess it's a Greek thing – ancient Greek poets were called "Rhapsodies" so I guess I’m trying to rap like the ancient Greeks. Ha-ha honestly though, rapping is my thing. Singing is just secondary for times when I’m trying to fill a chorus or bridge in a song.
MAP: What about Greek music, any interest?
Drew32: I like listening to it, but creating it… no. But I actually would like to collaborate with some Greek vocalists because that would be dope!
MAP: I’ve read that you have a show that is broadcast from Athens, Greece. Can you tell us more about this? How did you acquire this gig?
Drew32: During the summer of 2008, I traveled to Athens and performed live at a few amazing clubs. While there, I met this guy Panos from Mango Radio Urban who invited me to DJ/Host a show for his online-radio-station that was the only urban music show in Greece. It was really cool – my show was called "Destination Detroit" and I was trying to spread Detroit hip-hop and rap music to the listeners in Greece.
MAP: How is school going?
Drew32: Class of 2010! School is great, I'm having a fun senior year. I managed to take all my hard classes junior year so I now only have about 2 classes I need to study for. I've also got about a 3.9 grade point average.
MAP: Do your classmates treat you differently due to your fame?
Drew32: Classmates don't treat me differently really because they've known me forever, so I'm just a normal kid to them. Shout-outs to Avondale High School! They've been really supportive of my career.
MAP: Are you planning on attending a college or university?
Drew32: Yeah I'm still debating on whether I want to go to Michigan State University or Oakland University. Either way I want to go into something business-related because I feel it would be a good complement to my music career.
MAP: Tell us about some of your influences and motivators. Who would you say is your main role model?
Drew32: I'm influenced by many great artists, too many to name. So much good music comes from the Detroit area, it's hard not to be influenced by guys like Eminem and Royce da 5'9" – two of my favorite rappers. My main role models however are my parents.
MAP: What is a recording session like for you?
Drew32: A recording session with Drew32 is dope! I usually get my inspiration in the late hours of the night, so that's when I'm most musically productive. I start off by making the beat on my computer with Reason and Pro Tools and then record the song myself the next day.
MAP: That sounds like fun! Take us through a day in your life.
Drew32: Wake up at 6:20, go to school, come home, dinner with the family, work on any homework, talk to friends and girls, then make music the rest of the night!
MAP: Do you write your own lyrics or do you mostly freestyle?
Drew32: I write all my own lyrics. I mostly write my songs, but when I do occasionally freestyle everything is obviously spontaneous.
MAP: What is your most memorable performance?
Drew32: The second to last night that I was in Greece in the summer of 2008 I performed live at Akrotiri Boutique in Glyfada, Athens. The club was packed with about 2,500 people – I hopped on stage at about 1 am and performed my first set. I came back on later for my second set and it lasted hours!
MAP: How many CDs do you have out?
Drew32: I've put out a bunch of material – but currently available for download I have 3 mix tapes available: "Quarter Till Infinity" and "TwitterMania", both hosted by DJ Mo Beatz. My 3rd is called "Who is Drew32?” My new mix tape was released on March 22nd and is hosted by Jersey Shore's DJ Pauly D! That's called "Take the World: Who is Drew32? Mix tape Vol. 2".
MAP: Do you have any upcoming concerts or events? What about a website?
Drew32: I'm actually going to be performing in late April with Big Sean and Mike Posner. Details TBA.
MAP: Thank you for your time Drew32 and good luck!
If you want to learn more about this up and coming Greek-American rapper, check out his website: www.drew32.com and blog: www.drew32.wordpress.com.