Lathan Warlick has had a big week (alright… a big last few months!), so I was honored to be able to spend some time with him over Zoom and talk about his new ‘My Way’ EP, his rise to fame, and career goals here on Music News & Rumors. Watch our full interview below + read on to find out more about Lathan.
Just a few days after releasing his first project on a label, his ‘My Way’ EP, Lathan Warlick told me that the support he has received from fans and other people in the industry has been “beyond what [he] was thinking” he would get.
With features from Tyler Hubbard, Russell Dickerson, Lauren Alaina, Matt Stell, Dustin Lynch, and High Valley on the project, it came as no surprise to me that it would catch the attention of quite a few people, though. Lathan Warlick refuses to be defined by the boundaries set by the music industry in terms of genre. His songs borrow elements from hip-hop, country, rap, gospel, R&B… You name it, it’s in there, and he really makes this melting pot of sounds and influences work.
In an era where the lines between country, pop, and rap are becoming more and more blurred, the success of artists like Lathan Warlick is living proof that there is an audience out there seeking music like this with a cross genre appeal.
Surprisingly, making it in the entertainment industry and releasing music was never a goal for him. As he put it in our interview, “My goal was just being able to make it out of high school, so being in this type of space is amazing.”
Growing up in a rough neighborhood in Jackson, Tennessee, Warlick struggled with being surrounded by gang activity, some of his friends dying, a lot of his friends going to jail, and even having a traumatic experience of almost being shot in 2011. A gunman had a gun pointed in Warlick’s face, but before he pulled the trigger, Lathan followed his grandmama’s advice and asked God to help him. After that, the guy pulled the trigger, and the gun clicked. In that moment, he knew that he survived by the grace of God and started working to build a closer relationship with Him.
This experience led Lathan Warlick to God and gave him a new vision on life in “God, Love, and Unity,” a message that would follow him for the rest of his life and is evident in his music.
He turned to TikTok and started posting freestyles and adding his verses as remixes of hit songs. This was a goal of his to branch out of his comfort zone and explore genres of music other than hip-hop. Lathan’s vision was “God, Love, and Unity,” so to fulfill the unity part of his vision, he said that God told him He had ‘to get [him] around people that don’t look like [him].” It was then that he realized a common thread between country and hip-hop: “Some of these songs are basically talking about the same thing, but they’re just a different genre. This really ain’t different from what I’m already listening to. It’s just the way that the music is being presented, and it’s just the title of genre on it. So that’s what made me like, ‘I can write to this.’”
After posting a song to TikTok as a tribute to the late basketball great Kobe Bryant, country singer Granger Smith’s wife reached out to Warlick and connected him with her husband. The two went on to collaborate on an official remix of Smith’s song, “That’s Why I Love Dirt Roads”, featuring Lathan Warlick, which led to his introduction to the country music genre.
We also talked about the snowball effect that brought each of the project’s collaborations to light, working with his producers The720 (a producer duo made up of Blake Hubbard and Jarrod Ingram), and how Tyler Hubbard was involved in guiding Lathan as the executive producer of the project. “These people have grown to become family” to Warlick. They’re not just there to jump on a quick song and leave.
“My Dawgs” is the only song on the project that doesn’t have another artist featured on it. While Warlick wouldn’t entirely call it a solo song (he wrote the chorus with the guys from The720), he did want to include a song without a feature on it to “show people that I can do a song myself,” even on a project heavily featuring collaborations.
When asked what prompted him to recruit so many artists to be featured on his major label debut, he said, “I wanted my first project to be something of not just me. ‘Cause I can give people just me all day. So I wanted to bring unity… I wanted to show people White and Black on each song.”
I made sure to commend him for featuring two incredible female artists — RaeLynn and Lauren Alaina — on his EP, especially in a climate like right now where female country artists feel criminally underrepresented and unappreciated at times: “Yeah, that’s the thing. If it’s good music, it’s good music. I don’t care if it’s a guy, its a girl, old, young…”
These songs were recorded over the course of the pandemic, but it was still important for him to get in the studio to write and record together: “I wanted to meet these people, and I wanted to feel their connection. Not just feel like it was something forced or like it was just a job.”
One of my favorite things he said about his approach to making music is, “If it ever just becomes a job to me, we’re gon’ have a problem!” That is an amazing outlook to have because the energy you put into something is the energy you’re going to get out of it (as well as your fans).
“Over Yonder” featuring Matt Stell was the first song he recorded (it was also the first single released off the EP), and “Gotta Be God” featuring Russell Dickerson was the last song he finished for the EP.
I asked Lathan what hardships he had faced in the country music industry as a Black man and in regards to his race, and I was relieved to hear his answer: “I love how all of us connect and come together when it comes this stuff. I personally have not witnessed nothing racial. If I ever did, I definitely would adjust the issue then. Grown people talk when it comes to stuff like that. As far as the artists I’m working with and I’ve worked with, these folks are amazing, real genuine people.”
When asked about his dream collaborations, his answers might surprise you: Kane Brown, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, Jimmie Allen, Garth Brooks, and Shania Twain. The wishlist spans generations and is diverse in terms of genre, but he says Kane Brown is probably at the top of that list: “I really wanna work with Kane.”
Lil Wayne was his first concert, and he was a massive inspiration for him as far as live performances and being an artist go: “I loved Wayne. Just his metaphors and how he brought stuff together, it makes you think. That was massive. For a first concert, I was like, ‘Wait a minute… this is how concerts start?’ ‘Cause of the bass, the speakers, he had everything. You’re talking about an A1 artist.”
During quarantine, Warlick took the time to grow closer with his family and build a strong bond with his wife and son. His wife even got him into watching “Stranger Things,” and his favorite character is Eleven: “El is my dawg. I’m connected with El… She’s got powers. Dude, this is pretty nice. Now I’m telling her [his wife], ‘Hey, let’s get this next episode in.’”
His playlist is all over the place with it going from “Morgan Wallen to Drake to Kirk Franklin” and “Hillsong to Kirk Franklin.” Because he listens to so many types of music all the time, he couldn’t tell me what his top song was at the moment.
Going from being an independent artist to now having signed a record deal with RECORDS / Columbia Nashville has been a big adjustment for Warlick. He’s been struggling to let go of the responsibilities that the label is now responsible for doing. Speaking about this challenge, he said, “Even though I’m signed to the label, Im still trying to have my head and my hands on the business side of it and have my head and my hands on the music side of it… Now I’m learning how to pull it back off of that stuff and just be the artist.”
When I asked him who would be his dream artist to open for on tour, he immediately responded, “Kane Brown. It’d have to be Kane. I mean, this guy is one of the hottest right now.”
He would also love to tour with Russell Dickerson: “When I performed with him for the first time, I was telling myself then, ‘I would love to tour with this guy.’ Because of the energy that this guy had, too. It was just something about Russell…”
Next on his bucket list for his career is performing at huge venues like FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN or Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. “When you get in front of crowds like that, you have a message to relay to people… That’s amazing sitting there looking at all these people listening to your music, and they get to hear it. Now you get to actually put a message out there… To be in front of big crowds like that, filling those arenas up, I would love to relay the messages like that.”
To celebrate the release of his ‘My Way’ EP, Lathan and I played a game called “If I Had It My Way,” where he had to pick between two choices of his favorite things. I think it was fun for both of us and gave me a chance to do my best Jimmy Fallon impression and host a game show for a minute.
Getting the chance to talk to Lathan Warlick made me feel very lifted up by his spirit. He has a very inspirational way of talking about music and the connections it can have between people. He’s such a humble guy, and he is genuinely who he says he is. Being real and sticking true to who you are as a person will get you so far in life. Lathan Warlick is spreading his vision of God, Love, and Unity one song at a time, and his positivity is infectious.
Lathan Warlick’s ‘My Way’ EP, featuring Tyler Hubbard, Russell Dickerson, Lauren Alaina, RaeLynn, Matt Stell, Dustin Lynch, and High Valley is streaming now on all platforms: https://lathanwarlick.lnk.to/MyWay-EP