Q&A with John Wells

John Wells is a rapper from Baltimore with witty wordplay and knack for dope production. Earlier this year, John dropped a project entitled "The KEILANI", which featured banging tracks like 'Grass' and 'Elizabeth'. We caught up with John to find out what inspires him as an artist and see what's to come in terms of new music in 2016. 

Carlton Boyd

The KEILANI dropped in early 2015 and is a great collection of tracks with really dope production and introspective lyrics; what's next on the horizon in terms of projects in 2016? J: I have a lot planned for 2016. I have an EP dropping in March, a mixtape dropping at some point this summer, and an album hopefully by fall/winter.

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How did you and Scotty Banx connect with each other? J: I met Scotty through school. I'd known who he was since probably middle school, because him and Henry Traxx were basically the first young rappers in our neighborhood. I'd seen his music video on the morning announcements, and I'd seen him perform at the school talent show my freshman year of high school, and I followed him on Twitter and everything, but I never really met him until my sophomore year of high school during this thing called Enrichment that our school was doing so kids could get more involved in school and join clubs. We both went to the music video club on the first day. Just to throw it out, Scotty, Don Neil, me, and a lot of other big people from Baltimore went to Kenwood; you'll be hearing that school a lot once some more artists from Baltimore come up.

Would you say that your upbringing in Baltimore heavily influences your lyrical content and viewpoint as an artist? J: Yea, definitely. I find some deep shit in pretty much everything, so it's like everything around me is something I could write a song about. So it's definitely influential as far as my lyrical content, and as far as my viewpoint, I just feel like if I was a completely different person, and I was from like Wyoming or something, I definitely wouldn't see things the way I do, cause I wouldn't have had the same life. So being from Baltimore has probably shaped my viewpoint as an artist in a few more ways than one.

When someone listens to "The KEILANI" or one of your new tracks for the first time, what do you want them to take away from it? J: I think as long as you're taking something good from it than I'm good. Everybody perceives things differently and that's understood so if you like the beat or you figure out the cure for cancer or something from listening to my song then that's what's up.

Where does your inspiration to write rhymes and produce music come from? J: I started writing when I was hella young, my mother always said I have a gift in writing so she kind of always pushed that. I wrote songs when I was little, but rapping is more fun and it comes easier to me and it sounds cooler than my singing. I started producing in April of 2013 before I even started putting out my raps (I was rapping way before I ever made a beat, just to clarify) cause I couldn't find any beats I liked on YouTube, and Kayo (Scotty) put me on to FL Studio. I was also heavily inspired by a dude from Baltimore named Butch Dawson; he's one of my favorite producers, I really wanted beats like his.

Connect with John Wells: Twitter   Tumblr   Instagram


Q&A with King Zell

We connected with King Zell, a 20-year rapper from Baltimore, who is part of the music group Rated R, about his musical influences, how he selects beats, how he and Rated R connected and more. 

Carlton Boyd

Tell me about Rated R? How did you guys connect and do you have an EP or mixtape on the way? K: Rated R is a music group that consists of 5 members (4 Guys and 1 Girl).The 4 of us guys went to high school together & we became friends from there. I knew one of them (Ruso) since we were younger though. They were making music before me, this is in 2012. I told them I would be the hype man & that's really what it was at first. Being around them & listening to a lot of music growing up made me want to start making music so I made my first song in the summer of 2014. In 2015 we got a girl in the group with a very unique sound to her. We've been clicking since then. We are currently working on a Rated R mixtape as well as solo projects.

Being a part of Rated R as well as a solo artist, how do you decide what beats to keep for yourself to write to as opposed to using them for your group? K: I pick the beats that I feel would be the best fit for all of our styles. We all have a different style to our music but for the most part we find a way to finesse the beat for all of us. If they don't want to use a beat that I pick, I'll use it for myself & find one that sounds better all of us.

Chicago is known for "Drill" and Atlanta is known for "Trap"; would you say that Baltimore rap has a distinct sound? K: I don't really think Baltimore rap has a distinct sound yet. It's kinda like a mixture of Trap, Drill, Gangsta Rap & Soulful Rap. We do have a type of music that we dance to called "Baltimore Club Music".

Who are some of your influences lyrically as an artist? K: Growing up I listened to a little bit of every rapper but my influences are Lil Herb, Meek Mill, 50 Cent, Chief Keef, Lil Durk, Drake, Lil Bibby, Kanye West & More.

When a new listener hears one of your tracks for the first time, what do you want them to take away from it? K: It's nothing I would want them to take away; I want them to hear & feel everything that I'm saying in any song.

Connect with King Zell and Rated R:   Soundcloud   Instagram   Twitter

Who is John Wells?

John Wells is an American rapper, producer, and songwriter from East Baltimore, Maryland. John began writing raps at the age of 11, writing his first rap over the beat to Nuthin' But A G Thang. He began releasing music at 15 with friends from school, and eventually began working with Scotty Banx, whom he'd known of since middle school, but never actually got to talk to until 10th grade. In February 2015, John released his debut project, The KEILANI, produced by himself and mixed and mastered by Scotty Banx. Inspired by everyone from Chance the Rapper to Lil Boosie, he always wrote in order to illustrate the essence of what his life is, whether it be a story of waiting for his father to pick him up on his birthday, or an allegory of love and lust alluding to the dope game in Baltimore City, or a satire of the kids in Baltimore County who love to act like they live in the hood. Lately, John has been working quietly, occasionaly dropping things like "Beat Up Little Seagull," a song he wrote and produced during the uprising that went on in Baltimore, and more recently, the video to his song "Grass," the fifth track from The KEILANI. John is currently working on upcoming projects and plotting his next move, so clearly, there is much more to come.

Connect with John Wells: Twitter   Instagram

The Keilani