While a dream career is, for most people, just that — a dream — Cornelius Jarrell Andrews, or CJ, is working to make his a reality.
Andrews, a senior education major from Auburn, has been involved with music in some shape or form for the majority of his life.
“It started when I was younger. It went from the church choir,” he said. From there he was involved on and off with different musical endeavors and choirs until reaching Troy.
“In my life, I would always leave music and then come back to it,” Andrews said. “It’s like a calling.”
In middle school, he and a friend decided they wanted to rap, but neither knew what they were doing.
Andrews describes holding their microphone close to the speaker while recording so that both the beat and their voices could be heard.
During show choir in high school, one of the performances involved Kanye West’s “Gold Digger.” The choir director asked Andrews to rap for it.
“He said, ‘Hey, I just need you to learn this Kanye West verse and add your own flavor to it.’”
Still, by the time he arrived at Troy, Andrews admits that he put in a lot of work to get where he is now during his senior year.
“When I first got here, I couldn’t freestyle that well,” he said. “But my approach is always: I’m going to be better a year later.”
After a lot of practice in his dorm room, Andrews said he did begin to improve. He started posting clips on Snapchat, and when those were received well, he began a “Freestyle Friday” on Instagram.
“I really use Instagram as a way I can show people what I can do before I drop my tape,” he said. “It just became fun and easy. People began requesting beats.”
Andrews says that K On The Track, “Glasses” Malone, both rappers, and even some NFL players have liked and commented on his posts in the past.
“Nothing too major,” he said. “I guess it’s like my brand, how I am on Instagram.”
That isn’t all he is, though. Andrews clarified that his raps are actually freestyle, and not prepared for the camera.
“I’ll be out at a party and people will start a beat,” he said. “To people I’m an entertainer.”
While he cites Gucci Mane and Future as some of his favorite artists, Andrews says, “All of hip hop inspires me, but if I had to name some artists, I would say J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar and Drake because real rap is my natural talent.”
He said he can get behind any good beat, though. He uses Katy Perry’s “Roar” as an example of a song he could write a verse to because of the beat.
“When I hear music, I can feel it in my body,” Andrews said. “In choir I was exposed to all different kinds of music, I’m not just a trap rapper. I can get behind a good beat.”
After years of practice, he said that he is getting to a good place musically.
“I started rapping how I write and I thought, ‘Man, it’s a blessing,’ ” Andrews said. “I gotta thank God because it’s a talent — now I’m just perfecting my craft.”
But he said there are still reasons that he is in school.
“If I could choose, I would go the music route, but you have to have that guaranteed,” he said.
“I also want to graduate and get my degree because so much money has been invested in this.”
Andrews said that if his music career doesn’t work out, he would like to go into elementary education.
“Hopefully I can make a positive impact on a child’s career,” he said. “I want to be that teacher that incorporates music into learning.”
But if things happen as he wants them to, he “can pull a J. Cole and graduate school but still be in the rap game.”
At this point, Andrews is just trying to gain more attention on social media.
“If I could find a team, that’s what I really want to do,” he said. “I’m trying to find people in the area.
“I want to work with people who will better me.”
He is also trying to get into open mic nights, and get even more exposure as his mix tape is slated to come out this fall.
“I can only go up from here,” he said.
Andrews can be followed on Instagram for Freestyle Fridays and for updates. His account is @coke_thecoolest.