Music producer WLPWR has quietly but steadily built both a career and catalog many of his peers would give everything to have. The South Carolina native has not only produced a vast majority of Southern MC Yelawolf’s extensive catalog, but has also produced for the likes of Pittsburgh superstar Wiz Khalifa, lyrical super group Slaughterhouse, as well as cult fan favorite Tech N9ne.
As the founder of Atlanta-based production company SupaHotBeats, WLPWR also has a business savvy that is second-to-none. WLPWR took a few moments from preparing for his upcoming album featuring Travis Barker to share his insights on creating timeless music and how the music business has changed.
Michael: Yelawolf has been acclaimed by critics and fans alike for having a unique sound, and it seems to be a reflection of who he is. What was it that first brought you two together?
WLPWR: We first met at an event up in New York about ten years ago, and we hit it off instantly. We were recording within an hour of us meeting. The thing about Yelawolf is, he’s a genuine individual, a true artist. He takes the time make the best music possible. He isn’t concerned about what’s trendy; he’s focused on making real music. Whether he’s at home or on tour, he’s constantly focused on making timeless music.
Michael: Given your mention of timeless music, as a producer, how do you feel about the current direction of mainstream hip-hop? Artists like J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar have recently released highly-successful albums that have more of a soulful sound.
WP: I like it a lot. What we’re seeing right now is a sort of renaissance in hip-hop. I’m not sure exactly why, but listeners are tired of hearing the same music over and over again. We’re getting back to lyrics and soulful music again. Things like live production. Don’t get me wrong, I like the records that get the parties started in the club. But I can’t listen to that stuff all of the time.
Michael: As the owner of a production company, how important has learning the business side of music been for you?
WP: Learning the business side was very important, because when I came into the business more than ten years ago, things were a lot different. Information and resources were not as accessible. If you wanted to be a music producer, you couldn’t just go on YouTube and watch a video in five minutes and learn a lot. So through all of the bruises and bumps in the road, I had to get better in understanding how to build a career in music.
Many people are working for the moment right now instead of working to build careers. Understanding things like publishing is important. Your publishing as an artist or producer is how you are going to make money over the course of your career. Also, knowing how the value of your work is important. If people get used to you giving them stuff for free, they will never be used to you wanting to get paid for it. As a producer, you know how much time you spent on your work. If you have good work, you can charge good fees. If not, improve and practice until your work gets there.
Michael: With the internet being a big part of how artists work today, how likely are you to listen to an artist blowing up your social media with their music or promotional material?
WP: I know how important the internet is to newer musicians, but it’s just a little bit different for me because I have a different frame of reference. A lot of artists I see online seem to be more focused on becoming famous than creating great music. My man Trinidad Jame$ had a song (“All Gold Everything”) that actually poked fun at this trend. Most people don’t know Trinidad was working at a sneaker store down here in Atlanta before he launched as an artist, so when he’s talked about people “on Instagram straight flexing,” he’s literally talking about a lot of these so-called “artists” who used to come in his store and take pictures in expensive clothes and sneakers just to pose for Instagram.
A lot of these artists are more concerned with having instant success than building a lifelong career. If you look around in hip-hop, you have legendary artists who are barely able to book shows these days. It’s not like that in other genres of music. In rock and roll you have the Rolling Stones still selling out arenas at age 80. That’s a big reason why I continue to work with Yelawolf. His fans are now connected to a brand in “Trunk Muzik.” If you go to one of his shows, fans are still screaming every word to “Pop the Trunk,” and that song came out a few years ago. You have to think long-term with this music.
Stay tuned for WLPWR’s project Free Game featuring Big K.R.I.T., Trinidad James, Bubba Sparxxx, Dizzy Wright, Yelawolf, and more on June 9th.
WLPWR’s SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/supahotbeats