Vinyl records crackling. Dust glimmering in shafts of sunlight flooding in through the windows. In a house in the suburbs of Philly, melodies of classics fill the air behind muffled family conversations and the clangs and sweeping sounds of mundane household chores, a Saturday tradition.
These are some of the earliest and fondest memories that come to mind for Wes Pendleton when he reflects on his childhood and the genesis of his lifelong love for music.
Pendleton, a 34-year-old, Philadelphia-based hip-hop producer/rapper, began making music and developing his own sound around 2003, and has since worked with the likes of Lecrae, muzeONE, Phanatik, The Ambasssador, Everyday Process, and many others.
With a self-described hip-hop/soul hybrid style, Pendleton credits Mos Def as his biggest influence in the early days of his career, saying that Mos Def’s influence is “pretty much the reason why I started making the music I make even now.” Nowadays, though, Pendleton plays to the beat of his own drum per say; he doesn’t take nods from other artists. “That tends to happen the more you get into making music professionally,” Pendleton says. “You find your own style, and develop a lane that works for you.”
Part of Pendleton’s “lane” is the incorporation of his faith and storytelling into his music. “I hope to bring an east coast/soul sound mixed with stories of life and the proclamation of my faith in Christ,” says Pendleton. His faith, strong work ethic and passion for hip-hop and soul are what have set Pendleton apart and defined his career throughout his 12 years in the game.
Though he started making his own music with GarageBand software officially in 2003, Pendleton has been immersed in music his entire life. His whole family on his mother’s side is very musical, he says. “It’s not hard to get into it when all your cousins play one instrument or another; I came out of the womb with an instrument in my hand basically,” Pendleton says with a laugh.
Even though he was exposed at an early age to what he calls “some of the greatest music available” and set up with a promising springboard from which to launch into the music industry, Pendleton’s career progression has not always been as buttery smooth as his beats.
“It’s not easy – it’s not easy at all. The break you need has the possibility of never coming…even if you’re really good at what you do.”
At one point, Pendleton seriously considered putting the pads away professionally because his music career was taking too much away from him; he was losing more than he was saving in trying to balance his music career and his family life with his wife and daughter.
A few months after this low, however, things started looking up for the hip-hop dad. Since then, Pendleton has had some breakthrough years for himself, 2014 being the best yet; he released four projects and even went on tour with artists Taelor Gray and Tragic Hero. When asked if he could see himself ever stopping music completely, Pendleton responded: “Probably not. It’s almost like an extra arm at this point, and I couldn’t live without it.”
Currently, Pendleton is working on new music and hopes to put a project out before the year is over. The number of projects he does in the future may be throttled back, but boom bap fans will surely continue to enjoy Pendleton’s presence in the industry.