by Ali Shana
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.