AR Wesley
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AR Wesley

Milwaukee, WI | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Milwaukee, WI | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Solo Hip Hop R&B




"“The Self Portrait of AR Wesley: The Mouthpiece of the Midwest Coast”"

I don’t know if I’ll ever forget the first time I heard AR Wesley.

It was the day of The Self Portrait Pt. 1’s release, the Milwaukee rapper’s latest EP and the first in a trilogy. It felt like the first day of spring, even though it was still late March, so I rolled the windows down and popped my headphones in.

“Street Radio” was a good song and it got me interested, but “Time is Millmatic” thoroughly pulled me in. Between the cymbals taking up the backbeat and the record scratches in between the hook and the verse, it was hard to deny the connection I felt. Plus, when Jackie B sang, “Time keeps on slipping” during the hook, it was an instant reminder of my undying love for Space Jam.

It was a moment I had experienced before and a moment I hope to experience again: the instantaneous link between listener and artist.

This connection is AR Wesley’s biggest bet when it comes to his music. Don’t get me wrong, the 24-year-old often puts quite a bit on the line, especially on The Self-Portrait Part 1.

It’s Wesley’s most introspective and self-aware album to date, one that was quite arduous for him to record and release because of how intimate it was to him. But by leaving himself vulnerable, as he has, he is making the wager that there are people out there who can relate to him on a deeply personal level.

Wesley’s been on the other side of this relationship, citing the likes of Big K.R.I.T., Curren$y and Jay-Z as inspirational artists who can always find some way to connect to the listener. “Jay-Z’s the reason I want a Range Rover,” he said, joking, but not really.

Hailing from a city like Milwaukee, in the shadow of Chicago’s hip-hop legends, might deter some, but not Wesley.
“You can talk about wherever you come from,” said Wesley of his hometown. “It could be the smallest city; that doesn’t mean people don’t go through the same things that you go through.”

Either way, though, Wesley’s relatability neither begins nor ends with his hometown. Instead, what makes Wesley and his music so engaging is his pursuit of betterment, a feeling that should strike a chord with most.

AR Wesley was raised on the North side of Milwaukee. “Where I grew up wasn’t technically bad, but it wasn’t technically good,” he said of his upbringing.

His family was decently musical, featuring his “nine aunties and uncles” who played instruments, but even that didn’t have much of an influence on Wesley’s life, as he never shared the same interest in that side of the musical landscape.

What Wesley did have, though, was a natural ability when it came to rap.

“I just started noticing that I was actually good at it at a young age,” he said.

Wesley would often hear a rap song on the radio and rewrite it in his own words. And while he couldn’t entirely relate to his aunties and uncles, he did happen to have a couple of battle rapping cousins in Chicago that he would visit every other weekend.

Wesley followed his cousins’ lead when he was around 13, writing bars of his own with a battle rap, “Cassidy kind of style.” However, the joke and insult-heavy style of battle rap didn’t fit Wesley’s personality.

Instead, Wesley found it more natural to tell a story with his lyrics. He took it upon himself to improve his newfound techniques.

“When I was between 16 and 20, I did my research,” said Wesley.

When Wesley mentions his “research,” he actually means research–fieldwork, analysis, experimentation, what-have-you. Rap has always been a secondary education for Wesley, pushing the young artist to find new viewpoints and expand his knowledge.

“I went back through the years. I just listened to everything that I possibly could from hip-hop history,” Wesley said. “Because when I was a kid, I didn’t really understand it. But once I was older, I was able to listen to what they were saying and see what was going on. So me doing that, me researching and using what’s going on in my life, I just figured it would be really easy to just start trying to write about it. So that’s when I started getting more conscious with my rhymes.”
However, a more conscious attitude when it came to his music did not necessarily make Wesley’s music better, as he is quick to point out.

“I could rap all day, but I couldn’t come up with hooks,” he said.

This, though, led Wesley to the other end of the rap spectrum, as he ditched the conscious style for an accessible, party-heavy brand of rap on his last mixtape 92 Drug Flow.

“92 Drug Flow really taught me how to make music people liked,” said Wesley, speaking fondly of the project. However, just like his conscious rap was lacking in catchiness, Drug Flow was lacking in Wesley’s personal message.

“I wasn’t putting as much of what I go through as far as life situations,” explained Wesley. “I felt like people couldn’t relate [to me], so I wasn’t putting that in [my music].”

This brings us to The Self-Portrait Part 1, Wesley’s best attempt at betterment yet. After over a decade spent with rap, Wesley has finally figured out his sound. It just took putting more of himself into his music to get to that point.

First, Wesley had to address his faults when it came to his past projects. He had been able to make catchy raps and introspective raps, but never at the same time. Wesley saw this as a representation of two of the biggest camps of thought within hip-hop.

“I started understanding East Coast and West Coast,” said Wesley. “I started listening to West Coast artists and seeing how they could really make music that people could just love. They didn’t have to be lyrical to be something that people love, because it’s a feeling. And then on the East Coast, their main thing was mostly lyrics. So I kind of try to, now, mix both, you know? Try to mix a lot of lyricism with just feel-good music.”

The combination of these two classic styles of rap brought Wesley to his own unique branch of hip-hop that included all the fun of the West with all the lyrical prowess of the East, what he calls “the Midwest Coast.”

This Midwest Coast representation can be heard throughout the album, but especially on the bass-strumming, toe-tapping, aptly named “Midwest Coast Love.”

Along with trying to represent hip-hop history more effectively on The Self Portrait, Wesley also tried to learn from the history of his ancestors, making parallels between current rap culture and the minstrel shows of old on his song “Blackface.”

“I feel like a lot of the industry, a lot of industry people, end up becoming minstrel show type of artists,” Wesley said. “They kind of just become the stereotypes that people already think that we are. And I don’t want to do that.”

Wesley went on to explain that a lot of these emotions stemmed from his past projects, saying that he felt like he himself was leaning too heavily into the stereotypes of rap and drug culture on 92 Drug Flow.

There was “a lot of self-conscious stuff going on,” like this, surrounding the release of The Self-Portrait, as Wesley had to look within himself and at his decisions to create his most honest project yet.

“Some things I don’t want to talk about, and a lot of stuff is very personal,” said Wesley, specifically mentioning his “crackhead…Uncle Fred” from “Time is Millmatic.”

“Anybody who I talk about, anything that I talk about, is a real experience,” he continued. “So you have to relive them to write them in detail. You have to relive them. And that hurts.”
The Self Portrait Part 1 is just that, a self-portrait of the 24-year-old Milwaukee artist. Each song represents a part of Wesley that he chooses to reveal to his listeners: “Midwest Coast Love,” his hometown ties; “Time is Millmatic,” his trials and fears.

And “Shield & Sword” is the song that most exemplifies his pursuit of higher knowledge, featuring a speech given by the late novelist James Baldwin as its outro.

“Black people very largely educate themselves,” says Baldwin in the song’s closing moments. “What you have to do is pick up the tools with your own intention. That’s the trick.”

This speech relates personally to Wesley, as he has picked up his own tools throughout the past few years, including the pen to write his verses and the microphone to release them out into the public.

“I want to expand my mind. I want to challenge myself. I don’t want to get to the point where making music is that easy,” Wesley said.

And rap isn’t easy for Wesley. It pushes him to new depths, forcing the young artist to learn new things about himself and others. It’s Wesley’s greatest tool, but also his largest obstacle.

“Rap challenges me,” he firmly states.

That’s what makes Wesley and his music so relatable: it’s a constant struggle between self-improvement and self-doubt, something anyone chasing greatness has felt before.

“I’ll go ahead and just be honest and say, ‘These are the things that I do and these are the things that I don’t like about myself,’” Wesley said. “And if you relate to that, you don’t have to say that out loud. You can just listen.”

AR Wesley will continue his Self Portrait series later this year.

Follow XV Minutes on twtitter @xvmins - XV Minutes

"“Those Hip Hop Guys: AR Wesley drops energetic new video for 'Here iGO' featuring Von Alexander”"

If you haven't been paying attention, the young homie AR Wesley dropped the very timely and needed project "Time Is Millmatic "right at the end of last year. One of the stand out cuts on it was "Here iGO." That features Von Alexander and is produced by Mike Regal. Well, now we have a video for it and it's extra dope.

Directors Rob Randolph & Raphael Roby perfectly captured the energy of the song and the city with the visuals. Plus, it looks like at least half of your favorite rappers made cameos for this one. Sometimes everything just fits and this is an example of that. Stop reading this and hit play. Check it.

And don't miss AR's Moonwalker - A Michael Jackson Themed Party this weekend at Company Brewing. - DJ Bizzon

"AUDIO: AR Wesley – “The Self Portrait Pt. 2”"

Milwaukee’s AR Wesley is an emerging artist within the city, and his name is starting to be recognized for the quality of work he’s been putting out. In the case of his latest EP, “The Self Portrait Pt. 2”, it’s a showcase of a confident, developed emcee. The follow up to “The Self Portrait”, released six months prior, Part Two really lets AR be himself, and the two projects compliment each other well. The project features several references and samples to a previous day, showing the world the music that AR was raised on, and flipping it into something unique. You can catch AR Wesley opening for Airo Kwil at our next edition of “An Evening With”. - Allenhalas

"AR Wesley - The Self Portrait PT 2"

Milwaukee hip-hop move-maker AR Wesley is back again with his latest six song project: 'The Self Portrait PT 2'. The term 'move-maker' is not to be taken lightly, for this year has been a busy one for Wesley. Most recently, releasing a music video for 'Here IGO' (ft. Von Alexander), and earlier in the year dropping 'The Self Portrait PT 1', a follow up EP to his three song 'Time Is MillMatic'. Since then, Wesley has performed live with the band Wayward, dropped this most recent project, and is already hinting towards another music video in the works.

Like PT 1, this project features vocals from Kyndal J and production from Mike Regal and Ekstoluke. However, this time around, Wesley has collaborated with various artists such a B~Free, Lex Allen, Mammyth, and Cree Myles.

The opening track, 'Ignorant Art', immediately sets the mood for the entire project. Ekstoluke's production is heavy with hazy live instrumentation and smooth guitar licks. Wesley approaches the song with his signature laid-back gangster style, complimented by Kyndal J's whaling vocals in the background. Lyrically, Wesley references the past he left behind, his time spent in jail. But the song focuses on present day Wesley, focused and confident. As the refrain tells it, he's "just a G, searching for a way to be free".

Transitioning smoothly, the following track 'Flava' plays. Mike Regal's production here is reminiscent of Snoop Dogg's 'The Dogg Pound'. Wesley's storytelling is stylistically comparable to Slick Rick, cool and experimental in cadence. Posts on social media indicate that this song has a music video coming soon.

Next, we hear Wesley's acapella reading, "your eyes define glory, so this songs for you." The track 'Beautiful', featuring and produced by B~Free, opens up with delicate acoustic guitar and breathy singing. This song is one of the more heart-felt tracks. Wesley's verses are addressed to a girl. He describes her many struggles, only to remind her that he loves her unconditionally, regardless.

A smooth saxophone opens up the fourth track, 'The Grooves (Take Care Of Me)', featuring Lex Allen. This interesting collaboration is a breathe of fresh air placed perfectly in the track listing. It takes the heartbeat of the listener down to a slow, relaxing pace, right before it picks up for the fifth song, 'Breakfast'. This track is much more uptempo, funky, and overall lively. Mammyth does a great job utilizing the feel of a live rock band on this track.

Finally, the project closes with 'Jamrock', produced by Mike Regal. This ends the project on an interesting vibe, one much more futuristic and dance applicable. The chorus of this song is the only time on the EP where a disco theme is utilized. However, it is still well within Wesley's OG storytelling style, and makes a great outro to the project.

Out of all the AR Wesley projects, this one comes off as the most experimental and well put together. The overall vibe is smooth, however, features various influences. We hear many flavors of Wesley, perhaps drawing influences from Andre 3000, Slick Rick, and Kendrick Lamar. Like always, the final product is a non-fiction story of the artist's life. Keep your eyes peeled for the 'Flava' music video and don't sleep on Wesley's next announcement. - Ali Shana

"AR Wesley - Flava"

When I began to hear and watch the beginning intro of the song, and I heard Craig Mack's "Flava In Ya Ear" that's when I knew this was going to have an oldschool vibe to it, and boy was I right. Nothing like the 90s vibe, I really enjoyed the visual, production, and overall lyrics on this record in particular. AR Wesley really delivers and surprises with his wordplay, flow and delivery. There were so many elements that really drew me in and caught my attention. Definitely a 5/5 from me on Flava! - Shadarra Lockett Follow Her On Twitter

Connect With AR Wesley

The Self Portrait Full Album: - Shadarra Lockett

"Ar Wesley - Flava"

“AR Wesley is proud to release his single Flava from The Self Portrait album. Flava captures an in depth look into the essence of love and relationships from a Hip-Hop perspective, with a Jazz and R&B twist. This single was produced by Mike Regal and directed by Bren End. The Self Portrait album is available on ALL major outlets including; Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, Amazon, etc.” - SomMagazine

"Video: Ar Welsy - Flava"

There are some things that are undeniably fresh no matter what era they’re released in. AR Wesley’s video for “Flava” falls in that category. With a Mike Regal produced boom-bap sound and a smooth flow, the track could have been released any time in the past twenty years and made heads nod, and that’s perfectly fine. The crisp visuals from Bren End only add to the feel of the song, and give it a completely new life. This one is the jam, for sure. - Allenhalas


Still working on that hot first release.



AR Wesley is a up and coming Hip-Hop artist from Milwaukee, WI who is known for adding a jazz and R&B twist to his material. The Self Portrait is AR's debut album and is an in depth look at his personal views pertaining to life, love, and its circumstances. He is known for using his past struggles and setbacks in his music to capture the attention of his very diverse fan base. Even at a young age, he has proven that his unique style of music is way before his time, but in a sense fitting for listeners in his generation.

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