Elyria-based rapper and producer Will Lampley, who performs and records as Will Cherry, says that growing up in Elyria was “pretty inspiring” because of the city’s “communal vibe.” Cherry, who just released his latest LP, Ultraviolet, has picked up some momentum and has finally received some well-deserved national attention after years of working under the radar.
“Everybody knows everybody in Elyria, and everybody there knows I make music,” he says via phone. “I have friendships and relationships and support. There are some great artists here, and there was a venue called Blank Slate that is no longer operating after COVID. They used to throw a lot of shows. That was when we really had a scene.”
Growing up, Lampley was as much a fan of the production and sound of music as much as he was of the lyrics.
“I started picking production up around middle school and started making beats then,” he says. “I was writing lyrics as well, but over the last three years, I feel like I’m become more of a well-rounded artist as well. I have always loved music. My mother used to be a radio personality on a radio station out here in Elyria. She met my father there, and he was a singer. I’ve always been around music. Prince is a big influence. I know it’s not the best thing to say now, but Kanye West is an influence and so is D’Angelo and Marvin Gaye. They all produced their own music and were super hands-on with the process.”
Lampley’s first release as Will Cherry was the 2020 tune “PSA.” It spoke the unrest that was happening at the time.
“That was a protest song in 2020 at the height of the police murders of black people,” he says.
His first album, Burgundy, came out shortly after the single, and Lampley says the songs on Ultraviolet came together over the past four years; he worked on at the same time he worked on Burgundy. The Ultraviolet songs, however, more accurately represent his abilities as a producer and rapper.
“These songs just feel more current,” he says of Ultraviolet. “A lot of the songs are from this year and last year and show my current experiences and current level of skill. Whenever I went on a trip, I would bring songs with me and work on them, so they reflect the different places I've been.”
On the tune “Ice,” a track that features ratcheting percussion and aggressive vocals, Will Cherry teams up with Sango, who's produced tracks for Frank Ocean and Bryson Tiller. The song's sonic density distinguishes it.
“I made 'Ice' off something he started,” says Lampley when asked about working with Sango. “It was a cool process. It’s now become biggest song ever. It has a lot of different sounds. It has layers of guitars and samples. I tried to make it sound big.”
Dom Sarfo (producer for Fivio Foreign and KayCyy) also contributed to the album.
“Like me, he’s an artist and producer and engineer,” says Lampley when asked about Sarfo. “I’ve been working with him for years. He’s a real talented dude. I had this song 'Monster' that I already started. I told him that I could hear his voice on it. He jumped on that song and gave it a whole other perspective. He was on my first album too and did production on that album. We have some other stuff I’ve written with him as well.”
Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]