Wan LeAir, an independent rapper and hip-hop artist out of Brooklyn, New York, is seemingly in constant motion and competition with himself. He has discovered within himself the ability to hone in on what his audience likes most, push his boundaries and comfort zone in creativity, and synergize both into new musical experiences that take the listener on a journey with him.
Always featuring growth as a writer and performer, Wan LeAir is bringing something special (and sexy) to the table. Check out the latest interview with him, where we cover his start in music, his unexpected initiation into the rap scene, and the pivotal creative moment that solidified his sex symbol status as an artist.
Who is Wan LeAir?
Wan LeAir: It’s an honor! Thank you so much for having me. I’m truly grateful. I’m from Brooklyn, born and raised in the Oceanhill-Brownsville neighborhood, to be exact, right on Howard Avenue and Lincoln Place.
I’ve developed the skill of versatility, so my sound varies. I can touch on the boom-bap type sound, cater to the women with a more pop and melodic sound, dibble into the trap sound for my street hitters, and dabble into a more ratchet sound for the turn-up crowd. It might be a shocker to those who have listened to my music, but I’ve touched on the drill sound too. Drill is a different type of cadence.
New listeners will notice that none of my songs sound the same. The messages might be similar, but the sounds are different. For lack of a better term, my sound varies. I’m versatile.
A Non-Linear Path to Rap
Wan LeAir: Life was so much simpler back then. I regret wanting to grow up fast.
I became a percussionist in the 4th grade. Initially, I wanted to play a wind instrument, preferably the flute. I love the sound of the flute. It’s so peaceful, so mellow. I also heard through the grapevine, a few of my crushes played the flute. You know I had to keep close to my babies.
I auditioned for my school’s band. Unfortunately, I was TERRIBLE at playing all wind instruments. I didn’t have proper breath control. My instructor, Ms. Santini (I hope I spelled her name correctly), told me to play the snare drum. It felt so natural and effortless. I was comfortable.
From the 4th to the 6th grade, I played percussion. From the drums to the bells, symbols, and even the tambourine. I played the drums individually since I’m not a fan of sets. I was more of a marching band percussionist, like Nick Cannon in “Drumline.”
By middle school, I had stopped playing instruments. My elementary school is in the Borough Park area of Brooklyn, a diverse but predominantly white neighborhood, in my opinion. My middle school is in the area where I lived, notorious Brownsville. I don’t have to really get into how Da Ville gives it up. MOP and other hip-hop artists have already let the masses know that. The crazy part is it’s not as bad as people think. It’s actually worse, but it’s home to me.
The music program at my middle school wasn’t great. Kids in my neighborhood weren’t interested in instruments. The focus was more on sports, gang affiliations, street stuff, and rap music. We all wanted to be like the rappers we looked up to. I mention that to say this: there wasn’t a direct transition from being a percussionist to rapping. I didn’t start rapping until my mid-20s. Although I’ve always wanted to rap, I was afraid of being judged.
Growing up, I did love playing instruments more. Once that stopped, I was running the streets, dealing with girls, and playing basketball. During those years, I would think of rhymes, but I never wrote them down. One day, one of my bros from high school asked me to jump on a song with him. My verse was fire, of course, but my energy was dull. I sounded very monotone. The engineer did tell me I have a natural rapper’s voice and aura and that if I want to pursue a career in rapping, I wouldn’t let experience stop me. As you can see, it hasn’t.
There’s no telling what would’ve happened had I continued to play instruments. Maybe I would’ve become a band instructor or an artist like Anderson Paak. I admire that brother’s talent. I’m glad things turned out the way they did, though because I can’t imagine things happening any other way.
Wan LeAir on Making 9-5s Cool
Wan LeAir: It wasn’t challenging at all. You have to stay true to yourself and in your lane, as cliche as that sounds. If you jump on what’s trending, you have to keep doing that because they come and go. Some are swifter than others. Eventually, you’ll get tripped up, and someone will take notice that you’re not really how you appear to be. You just jumped on the bandwagon.
I’d rather set trends than participate in them. It will always be better to be myself and get crushed than to be someone else and roll with the rush. I chose to stand out over fitting in any day. Stay true to yourself. Remain realistic. It’s easier that way. Plus, my peoples know my handle. They’ll be quick to drag me if they catch me jumping on the bandwagon. Lord knows I don’t want to hear their mouths.
His Favorite Part About Independence
Wan LeAir: My favorite part about being an independent artist is being independent. I love betting on myself, being in control, making executive decisions, and having everything fall on me. I have freedom.
Don’t get it twisted, though. I do have a team backing me up and providing consultations. You want to build a team if you are an independent artist. No one gets the job done alone. I can’t imagine someone telling me, “You cannot,” instead of, “you should not,” when it comes to my music. [I can’t imagine] someone holding me back just because they don’t like what I plan on putting out.
Having access to the resources and knowledge record labels offer is dope. I’m not against labels. If I’m offered the right deal, I’d sign the contract for sure, but for now, I’m enjoying my independence.
Challenges of Independence
Wan LeAir: Honestly, my greatest challenge has been getting people to realize I’m not like other artists. I don’t do what other artists do. There have been comparisons to artists like Hov, Nas, and Big L, but that’s not who Wan is. I stay in my lane.
It gets annoying to hear people tell me I have to do something like another artist. That [strategy] worked for them because that’s them. My blueprint is different. A different architect and contractor are working on this structure. That challenge is becoming old news, though. The masses are starting to recognize, understand, and gravitate to who Wan is more.
Stand Out Tracks
Wan LeAir: “In Dat Zone” is that HITTER. Before I wrote “In Dat Zone,” my most popular song was “Drippin’ Gold.” The song is also on the Wandemonium project. Despite having other singles out, I noticed that everyone was stuck on “Drippin’ Gold,” so much I was asked when I would make a part 2. Part 2? To what? I never want one song to define who I am. I want my collection to do that.
Around the time I wrote “In Dat Zone,” I was stuck on listening to Victory Lap by Nipsey Hussle. Rest in paradise, Money Makin’ Nip. I would also listen to his interviews. He would speak on honing your craft and focusing on your goals. I always wanted to meet and work with him. He’s one of my idols.
After taking notice of the sound everyone gravitated to with “Drippin’ Gold,” I needed to steer them in the direction that I’m heading to while I still had their attention. I challenged myself to outdo myself by writing a song greater than “Drippin’ Gold.”
Shoutout to my brother JMacDonough. He’s the featured artist on the project. He SMASHED shit. My artistry and skill had improved tremendously since I wrote “Drippin’ Gold,” so it didn’t seem like a difficult task. I just needed to do something different to get different results. That was the challenge.
The supporters needed to see my growth differently than they were accustomed to. Once I found the right instrumental, I thought of Nipsey. I decided to write a song about me, of course, but one that Nipsey could relate to, a song that I could hear him on, a song that you could imagine hearing his voice reciting my verse. It took me about 20 minutes to complete the entire track. It does sadden me never to get to work with or play the song for him. I know he would’ve vibed to it. I know that story sounds crazy, but it’s the truth.
As for “SPLASH,” I was influenced by women. I have to cater to the ladies. At that time, I already had “Talk Sexy”, “SupaFly”, and “Got Time” out for them specifically, but I needed something else for them to enjoy. The goal was something more melodic and slower, raunchier, catchier.
Unlike most of my songs, the focus on “SPLASH” was the hook. My other songs have more of a focus on the verses. This is where I showed growth more as an artist. I decided to come out of my shell and sing this song, too. I went beyond just that and told myself it was time to get more sexy on them. So, I made a note reciting everything in a lower tone with a vocal projection slightly above a whisper. I wanted women to wonder more about what it’s like to be in bed with me. This song solidified my sex symbol attribute. Yes, ladies, what I said in these songs, I actually do. I really find pleasure in pleasing my partner.
Connecting to the Music
Wan LeAir: The entire Wandemonium project represents me best because it touches on the different sounds I mentioned earlier. It shows my versatility, not only through the sounds but also through the subject matter. I touched on different aspects of my life. Take a listen. Y’all will see. Word is bond.
Wan LeAir: Divinevision7 is a collective. There’s a branch for photography, videography, social media consultation, music, content creation, and more. It’s a lifestyle. We live a certain way on this side. I’m in a partnership with this brand outside of the music.
The founder of DV7, my Godbrother, and manager, Flacko, was the person that convinced me to take rap more seriously. To show his faith in me, he put his brand behind me. Since then (although I don’t like to look at it that way), I’ve become the face of DV7.
The brand is on my back. I tatted it on my wrist to establish its permanence with me. DV7 means to me, what Ruff Ryders meant to DMX, what G-Unit means to 50 Cent, and what Roc-A-Fella meant to Hov, Dash, and Kareem Biggs. Flacko and I are a dynamic duo, and DV7 is the empire.
Future Plans for Wan LeAir
Wan LeAir: Definitely, more shows are on the calendar. I want to perform at more venues than I did last year and plan on putting out more visuals. I might even start my own Bachelor type show. It’s about time I settled down anyway.
I’m joking, but on the real, what I’m most excited about this year, is the release of my latest project, “Bozo’s Artistry.” It will be available on all platforms on August 16th. You can preorder it now on iTunes. I put a lot of work into this. My audience will love the project because it’s different from what they’ve heard before.
Wan’s Closing Notes
Wan LeAir: Before I head out, I want to let everyone know that I’ve been down before. I’ve battled with depression. Mental health and stability are vital. Don’t be too proud to seek help, for real, for real. If you need to speak to someone, do so. Take care of yourself metaphysically, not just mentally. If you want, you can even hit me up. I’ll listen attentively and help out in any way I can. I love to help people. That really brings me joy.
Connect with Wan LeAir
Wan LeAir: You can find me on all music platforms under Wan LeAir. My Threads and IG is @Iamwanleair. My Facebook is Wan LeAir. On Twitter it’s TheTeflonDonWan. My OnlyFans … doesn’t exist, with y’all nasty asses. I appreciate the love and support. I definitely have more work coming soon. My name is Wan LeAir. I am HIM, and if I ain’t HIM, then show me who is.
Thank you, readers for being here, and learning about fellow independent artists and music lovers like yourselves. Stay up to date on the latest independent music buzz by subscribing today! Get the latest delivered directly to your inbox.