When we last caught up with Will Rose in late 2018, the accomplished Milwaukee percussionist and rapper was putting the finishing touches on a Mac Miller tribute show he organized, which would also serve as a farewell show of sorts for his Airo Kwil hip-hop alias so that he could release music under his own name. In the 18 months since that interview, the drummer and emcee split time between Milwaukee and Los Angeles, where he put considerable time and energy into writing, refining, and recording songs for his debut full-length as Will Rose.

That material will officially see the light of day on Friday, April 10, when Rose releases Wilted. The 10-song album shows the rapper at his most lyrically nimble yet, as he confidently places insightful lyrics, witty wordplay, and catchy melodies atop impressive instrumentation that’s far more elevated than any of Airo Kwil’s previous releases. The majority of Wilted was recorded by Rose between 2018 and 2020, with additional recording assistance by Nick Perow, John Velasquez, and Michael Sodnik. Justin Perkins at Mystery Room mastered the album. Sodnik also mixed the majority of the record, and he played on it as well.

Rose also got a noticeable musical boost from a skilled cast of collaborators who lent their voice or their instrumental prowess to portions of Wilted. Those musicians include the likes of Jenna Raides (guitar/bass), Austin Freese (guitar/production), Mark Yencheske (bass), Barry Parmet (saxophone), Quinten Farr (keyboard), Elyse Cizek (vocals), Jane Han (violin), and Jack Beyler (guitar). When those contributions are combined with Rose’s beats and bars, the final product ably traverses the expanses of funk, traditional hip-hop, delicate R&B, and material with borderline pop sensibilities. Though it required him to say goodbye to his Airo Kwil identity and reinvent his sound, Will Rose shows listeners he’s in full bloom on Wilted. Before the album is released digitally on Friday, you can listen to five songs from the record below.

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Co-Founder and Editor

Before co-founding Milwaukee Record, Tyler Maas wrote for virtually every Milwaukee publication (except Wassup! Magazine). He lives in Bay View and enjoys both stuff and things.