By Dylan Deprey
Following his show at the Miramar Theater, Ar Wesley whipped through the streets of Milwaukee in his blue suburban. He wore a white shirt with a flowering burst of color brandishing the cover art from his first feature length album. He is part of a convoy heading to friend and producer Mike Regal’s studio in a Downtown Milwaukee warehouse.
It was a special occasion as Regal made a stop back to his hometown after moving out to Las Vegas back in Dec. 2016.
He pulls up to the studio. Rapper Larry Bull jumps into Wesley’s car and immediately recount the sets they performed not even two hours earlier.
“Man!! We held on to that because for a second, we could’ve crashed and burned,” said Bull emitting the same flood of energy he held during his performance.
After linking with their entourage of friends and artists, they mountaineered the five-story labyrinth to a half-empty studio.
Regal took a seat in the same spot where many of the beats he had produced over the years. He manned the auxiliary cord and played everything from the recently released Drake and Rick Ross albums to early Jay-Z and Junior MAFIA.
Wesley knew the word to every song Regal threw on.
“Don’t think I’m going to be shuffling cards on the strip,” Wesley joked to Bull and Regal as they talked about his upcoming move to Las Vegas.
After dropping his debut album, The Self Portrait LP, and performing countless shows across the city, state and country, all while working a full-time job, he is ready for a new change of scenery.
“When you’re in my line of business you don’t want to become too familiar or to accessible because that’s when your work depreciates,” Wesley said. “People get used to seeing you, and they won’t come to an Ar show because they know he’ll have another Milwaukee show.”
Wesley left Milwaukee after high school and lived down in Oklahoma and Texas until his mother and grandfather needed his help up in Milwaukee.
“Now, everybody’s good, everybody’s straight, and it’s time for me to move out again,” Wesley said.
The room of artists, including rapper Young Epic and singer Smoke, continued to chime in on discussions spanning from working a stage properly to the best method of to shuffling through the steady influx of girls’ messages and snapchats following their Sunday night performance.
As the night trailed on and smoke and heavy bass filled the studio, Wesley continued to rap every lyric to every song Regal played, minus the 30 second advertisements between every other song.
He would cut through the silence with lyrics from his song “Here I Go,” the only song he said he has to actually practice.
“I wrote the verses exactly alike, twice! Sometimes I get tripped up. I’m like is it the first or the second verse,” Wesley said. “I told myself I’ll never do that again.”
Just as Wesley has perfected his lyrical workflow, he has also learned how to adapt to the many environments he has performed at.
“I played at a wine tasting bro,” Wesley said laughing. “You have to adapt to your environment. I kept it smooth and played songs like ‘Flava,’ it wasn’t like tonight where it was all my energy into each song.”
As the energy in the room slowly depleted into a subtle lull and dragged into the early morning, the music stopped and the studio cleared.
Wesley shook up with his homies, and everybody went about their own way either meeting up with girls, heading to the bar or heading straight home to sleep. He didn’t know what he was going to do for one of his last nights in Milwaukee, but he did know that his future out West was full of opportunities just waiting to snatch.
Ar Wesley’s, “The Self Portrait LP” is available on iTunes and streaming platforms.