By now, PMB followers will be well aware of Louis Rei, Haile and Akelle (AKA WSTRN) because of the unapologetic coverage the team and I have given them. The three artists’ complimentary styles, addictive melodic hooks and general dopeness has lead to urban and commercial music fans becoming infatuated by them. This month I want to look back at how this relatively new trio managed to temporarily eclipse one of Britain’s most successful exports and reach the No.1 spot in the official UK chart.
Created in their first collaborative writing session, their debut single In2 has an intercontinental, ‘West Coast’ influence that reflects this welcomed recreation of 90s/00s R&B but at the same time, exudes a sense of British loyalty and authenticity. Although the group (and track) is pretty new, WSTRN were keen to bring it to life and therefore took to the stage at various events (including PMB’s RCD X PMBLive) which lead to an immediate buzz surrounding the single.
It seems that the UK’s urban music scene has developed an innovative new way to enigmatically market new music through live shows. In the past, acts like Bonkaz have managed to successfully indoctrinate the energy and lyrics of tracks like We Run The Block into the minds of the listener before it has even been made available to stream, watch or download online. The indisputable value of the live circuit definitely contributed to the success of In2 and also reiterated this new supportive nature of UK music. Fans had already built a relationship with the trio before the track had been officially released.
The support of UK music fans had a huge impact on the single’s success but, it can’t be denied, whether you are anti-major or not, signing to Atlantic Records meant that WSTRN were able to utilise the momentum already generated and create a multi platform campaign that has seen the trio’s career fully take off.
Anyone that has known my journey knows how important pushing West London artists is to me… Today three very talented West London artists I’ve been helping manage signed an album deal with Atlantic Records… I can’t tell you how proud I am of @louisrei, @iamhaile & @akellecharles ? together they are called #WSTRN and this is the beginning of our journey!!
WSTRN x ATLANTIC ? A photo posted by Morgan Keyz (@morgankeyz) on
Next was the official video. Now, it’s quite easy for UK artists who are proudly representing a specific area of London to just shoot a hood vid in ends and I can’t lie, I’m still a fan of the gritty, concrete jungle style visuals but, WSTRN, who are unashamedly flying the flag for West London, did it differently. They took the US, ‘West Coast’, street culture that you could argue has influenced the track and used it to embellish the West London streets with a Fresh Prince of Bel Air style graffiti tint and old school, 90s R&B, low angle fish eye camera shots and the results… well, watch it below.
By the time the visuals had dropped, In2 already had huge radio backing from the likes of BBC Radio 1xtra and BBC Radio 1 and when the track was officially released on iTunes, the support from press, artists, fans and tastemakers meant that the success of the track was inevitable but to reach the number one spot was something that I don’t think anyone predicted. Baring in mind this was during the return of Adele.
However, even the enchanting, iconic vocals of the English rose that is Adele couldn’t fend off the catchy Neo-R&B sounds of WSTRN and they temporarily held the top spot in the official UK charts.
The undeniable potential the trio have shown combined with the support of the ever-growing scene they represent proves that the success of their track, In2, isn’t a phenomenon, it is just an example of the direction the scene is going in and I guarantee next year will see acts like WSTRN regularly competing in the commercial charts.
Words by Patrick Fennelly