Three years ago, I first spoke with producer WLPWR about his incredible work on Big K.R.I.T.’s 2017 opus, 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time. Born William Washington, the Atlanta-based maestro told me about the elements of perseverance that permeated his work with K.R.I.T..
“When you have somebody as talented as K.R.I.T. who was always told, ‘Not yet,’ or, ‘The people won’t understand it,’ to finally get the chance to do it, it just makes for a really awesome situation,” WLPWR said all those years ago. That was 2017; the year is now 2020, and life has changed for WLPWR, who has since tapped into the same energy K.R.I.T. brought on 4eva to start his new label venture: BNDWTH.
After taking a production hiatus, WLPWR built—yes, with his own two hands—a 4,000 square foot space in Atlanta, his very own “production compound.”
“I wanted to multiply my musical output as a producer,” WLPWR explains. “My goal was to bring all my resources to one place and invite the game to us. I got a 4,000 square foot building in Atlanta. Myself, my partner at the time Angela, and my contractor Hector, along with the hands of many friends, built it out for two years. We touched every piece of wood, installed every wire, hung all the sheetrock, installed the floors, and decorated. The final result is a creative compound and company.”
BNDWTH, as a label, features two budding R&B artists: Josh Waters, from Hattiesburg, MS, who has been releasing a new single every Wednesday of 2020; and 21-year-old Skye Morales, from the Bronx in New York. Both Waters and Morales have turned to WLPWR for guidance. As for the results, the very fact that they are working with a legend with over 20 years in the game, are speaking for themselves.
“I met WLPWR like three years ago, while he was working on 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time with Big K.R.I.T.,” Waters tells me. “I was just sitting in on the session as a guest, and K.R.I.T. let me play one of my singles [“This Fire”] that was about to come out, featuring Smoke DZA. Will was sitting there, and [he] gave me some dap, and some head nods.
“I found out later he had opened a studio, which I had heard him and K.R.I.T. speak about three years prior,” Waters continues. “I started booking sessions and time over there, and Che Rhenosonce, one of the engineers and producers at his studio, kept telling Will, ‘Yo! You gotta meet this kid.’ Long story short, we end up having a meeting together and Will’s first question to me and my manager, John Griggs, was: ‘What are y’all looking for?’ Me and my manager looked at each other, and we were like, ‘Guidance,’ and the rest was history.”
As for Skye Morales, her connection to WLPWR runs deep—eight years deep. She met WLPWR when she was 13 years old, at the behest of her mother, who was seeing Will at the time.
“My mom told him I knew how to sing, so he had me sing this harmony at the age of 13, and we kinda been working together on and off ever since then,” Morales explains. “It wasn’t until I turned 18 that I was like, ‘Okay, let’s do this for real, I’m ready for it.’”
Morales and Waters both fell in love with music at a young age. Both artists come from musical families, and both artists privilege feeling in their music. Morales describes her sound as “Let’s sip some wine and just have a vibe,” alternative R&B. Meanwhile, Waters is honest about still finding his voice in music. Though he hasn’t fully defined his sonics, he does know what he doesn’t sound like, which is equally as valuable.
As the faces of the BNDWTH collective, both artists see WLPWR as an incredible, selfless, and hardworking label head. They both agree their development as artists is thanks in large part to Will’s commitment to their unique voices.
“BNDWTH is a collective of producers and songwriters first,” WLPWR explains. “We develop music, producers, and artists. To become a label was just the natural progression from building up new creatives to professional creatives. We spend every day developing artists via recording, marketing, promoting, doing shows, and putting out music. Becoming a label was destined. At the point where so much time is invested, and rhythm is in place, why not?”
“Man, WLPWR has gumption like I’ve never seen in a man before, or in a human for that matter. He is very, very wise, and I think the biggest thing is he teaches us music business opposed to music industry. He took the time to get to know us so that he could intentionally place things around us to hone in on whatever skills it is we need, or to just build on top of whatever we already came to the table with. It makes him so much greater than a producer. [He is] a visionary. This is the most selfless human I know, you feel me? His whole existence is about us all attaining or acquiring ownership for whatever it is that we want or believe in. I couldn’t ask for a better person.” –Josh Waters
One of the key elements of BNDWTH’s model is ownership. When WLPWR says he built this creative compound with his own two hands, he means it literally and figuratively. This is a Black-owned business by Black creatives and for Black creatives.
“We own the space, and we own the process,” WLPWR says. “We’re making new leaders and building business. Learning the ins and outs of the business from songwriting to publishing, to merchandising, distribution and touring, it’s crazy… I don’t see it as lofty. I’m 20 years in the game; I see it as the next progression. My only fear would be being unprepared. We’re prepared and accept the challenge.”
With this in mind, I ask WLPWR what hurdles he’s faced getting BNDWTH off the ground. His answer comes as no surprise: money.
“Finding proper funding is still a minor setback,” he admits. “As for now, I’m funding it myself. I’m okay with it, though. I’m hella resourceful. My relationships, along with owning the studio, cameras, equipment, and the process saves me a lot. We’re capable of high output. It won’t be long before [money] isn’t an issue. I’m creating value right now.”
WLPWR is not the only one who feels there’s tremendous value in the BNDWTH venture. His artists—his whole team—are right behind him. According to both Morales and Waters, BNDWTH is bringing something new and exciting to hip-hop culture, cultivating a space for artists from and out of Atlanta to be their authentic selves, to escape industry games, and to blossom.
“Discover, develop, deliver; repeat,” WLPWR says of the BNDWTH motto.
“I see BNDWTH doing so much for the hip-hop culture,” Waters concludes. “BNDWTH surpasses us putting out dope music. Will is permitting people just to be who they are without having to conform to different standards or ideologies of the music industry and still be successful. If people take [to] that, then the whole game is gonna change.”