Classically Trained Hip-Hop Artist Corina Corina Teaches Us The Free Way
This week, Brooklyn's favorite tattooed hip-hop songstress Corina Corina releases her anticipated sophomore album The Free Way. The album features production from such current east coast indie-rap "it"-producers as Willie Green and Steel Tipped Dove, and guest appearances from the likes of billy woods and Elucid, She'll be celebrating the release this Wednesday, March 19th, at The Trash Bar in Brooklyn at 8 p.m. We spoke to Corina about making a name for herself home and touring abroad in the testosterone-filled indie hip-hop world, as well as the maturity found on The Free Way and the story behind her eye-catching tattoos.
Gubi Chiriboga Corina Corina
You're originally from Berkley, California. What made you decide to jump coasts?
Music. I came to New York when I was still a teenager, 2000/2001, and just completely fell in love with it and thought "some day I'm going to live here." I have a degree in music, and it was a school-related thing. I saw a bunch of Broadway musicals and I just connected with it so easily. And, also, so I wouldn't have to drive. It sounds so strange and simple, but seeing there was somewhere I didn't have to have the responsibility of having a car was awesome. I lived in L.A. for a few years and I've spent enough time in cars. I moved out here seven years ago. A lot of times, people think I'm from here because I'm so comfortable here.
How did you first touch down in the New York music scene?
My life was pretty different when I moved here. I had a 9-to-5, I was damn near married, I was totally shacked up. I was in a band my first four years here, a blues-funk band. We played all over the city but nothing really happened because everyone else had all these commitments and it was very clear that I was a lot hungrier than the rest of the band. As soon as we broke up, I went full throttle. ILLspokiNN was the first person I met in the scene about three years ago, as soon as I started connecting with those people I just went for it. I felt I had no time to waste. I met iLL, I met Jesse Abraham, I met Willie [Green] and then I just started going out all the time and meeting as many people as I could from there.
Your sound is a pretty distinct amalgamation of a lot of different styles. When did you realize you'd reached the sound you wanted?
What's interesting about that is that I've really dabbled in just about every genre. I have a musical degree, I'm classically trained, blahblahblah. The band I was in was an accumulation of all four of our sounds and when I decided to go solo, I decided to do exactly what was in me. It always goes back to my R&B/soul/hip-hop influence. It's what I grew up on. My 90s Mary J. Blige/SWV influence comes out a lot in my music. I moved 3000 miles away from my family and decided to do it exactly how it needs to happen. Willie and I have had hours and hours of conversations about what direction to take my music into, and everything thing we make sounds more and more like me.