Influenced by Christian hip-hop greats like Lecrae, Trip Lee and Andy Mineo, Matthew Campbell wrote his first song at 11 years old, and, at 14, he began recording.
Campbell, freshman communication major, released his newest song, “Gr8,” on Oct. 2. Drawing from the stress, pain and hurt of the coronavirus pandemic, he sought to process his experiences through songwriting. “I found a lot of joy in the fact that the Lord was still supreme over all of the craziness,” Campbell said. “This song was made to be a song of celebration in the midst of these struggles.”
The song features Mitch Darrell, a close friend of Campbell’s from North Carolina. Campbell said, “He is a very talented artist, who I’ve been able to work with a couple of times before. The reception to ‘Gr8’ has been amazing.”
Lyrics like, “In the midst of it all, I’ve got a smile on my face, I know that it’s not just me fightin’ for my rightful place,” overlay a blend of hi-hats, smooth synths and electronic beats. The song also provides a commentary on today’s society, saying, “I’ve been hopin’, prayin’, wishin’ for some clarity. Cause I’ve seen fightin’, hatin’, waitin’ for a change of things.”
Right before COVID-19 first began ravaging the music and entertainment industries, Campbell had signed with JAM Booking, a concert and event booking agency. “Obviously, the virus has put all concerts on hold, which has not allowed me to be booked for any events with JAM,” Campbell said. “But there is gonna be a time where concerts are going to happen in the near future, and I’m very excited.”
Undeterred by this setback, Campbell continues to create music in his own DIY studio space, and he releases songs under his self-launched label, “Parental Approval Records.” While the music scene in Northwest Arkansas continues to grow, Campbell hopes to inspire others to join the hip-hop genre. “The hip-hop music scene in Northwest Arkansas is almost non-existent, especially within the Christian hip-hop genre,” Campbell said. “But that means that there is potential for there to be a hip-hop scene.”
Throughout the beginning of his music career, Campbell has worked with fellow artists Beleaf, Byron Juane, Mitch Darrell, Jaclyn Olivia and others. “I love getting to collaborate with artists who share the same mission as me, which is encouraging others and pointing them to Jesus,” Campbell said.
As a Christian hip-hop artist, he draws inspiration from his faith. “Music is a way for me to be expressive and vulnerable about my life, my struggles, my joys, my fears and my love for Christ. Every song that I create is made to reflect who I am in Christ and who the Lord is to me,” Campbell said. “My goal is to encourage those who don’t feel encouraged, give hope to those who have none and to show the listener who Jesus is.”
In the new space of JBU, Campbell has grown “as an artist, as I am constantly learning new things through my courses that influence the way I approach my music. The longer I’ve been here, the more my music continues to evolve.”
When asked about future projects, Campbell shared his plans for a release in early 2021. “I am actually working on a new project at the moment that will not only be a musical piece but will contain other elements in different mediums that all coincide together,” Campbell said.
You can find ‘Gr8’ and other songs by Campbell on all music streaming platforms. Visit his website at www.matthewcampbell.co