Karl “KP” Powell
Under the sunny skies of Tampa, FL, Karl “KP” Powell remembers his lifelong love of music developing at an early age with a special leaning towards the undisputed King of Pop and one particularly handy prop his father had nearby: “My earliest moments with music were listening to Michael Jackson as a kid, putting on church shoes and singing with my dad's microphone as I'm performing the songs. I had to have been around 5 or 6.” The classic Soul, Pop & Funk stylings would always serve as rock-solid musical foundation even as KP’s early influences would evolve with the times. Along with MJ’s mentor, production legend Quincy Jones, KP fondly remembers following true triple-threat singer/songwriter/producer Babyface’s storied career while still in elementary school: “I was definitely the only kid in 3rd grade singing his songs (laughter).
Quincy Jones, 2PAC, Prince, Boys 2 Men. I've always loved the real instruments, it always gave the music its realness. It enhanced the artist's message.” As hip-hop began to take over radio airwaves as well as popular culture, KP appreciated lyricists with a meaning behind their rhymes and the booming productions that provided their canvas. However, by high school KP focused on athletic endeavors over the arts, much to the surprise of those who now know him for his trademark soulful soundscapes. “I never actually participated in music during school. I was a basketball player all throughout grade school- I had dreams of going to the NBA so I avoided music for the most part. I did sing in the choir at church, which I hated.” After an accomplished high school basketball career, KP let his love for music return to the forefront while grinding on the major Southern rap circuit with the biggest talents in the Sunshine State and beyond. Forming in 2008 and placing note-worthy production credits with some of the biggest artists and mixtape DJs, KP and his production outfit The Colleagues would achieve a major breakthrough in 2009 via New York emcee Maino riding high off of his smash single “Hi Hater”: “
We produced "Get Em Tiger" for Maino back when he was on Atlantic Records. It opened up a lot of doors for us and the joy I felt at the time was indescribable. I definitely had tears of joy when I was in LA and heard it on the radio!” Graduating from bubbling mixtape tracks to major-label retail LP placements, The Colleagues continued to grind within the industry from Atlanta to Los Angeles, building a solid discography along the way. They also picked up talented producer Harrison Johnson into the fold, who remains KP’s production partner to the present day.
In 2013, The Colleagues would link with critically-acclaimed, Grammy-nominated vocalist Raheem Devaughn and begin an incredibly successful partnership. In addition to landing multiple LP placements, the collaborations have led to some extremely special moments: “I went to see him perform for a sold out theater, to hear thousands of people singing songs you produced was crazy.” It’s only fitting that KP would ultimately find an incredible lane with a classic soul vocalist, considering his production style returns full circle to his earliest childhood soul & funk musicianship influences: “Our music is authentic, straight-forward and unique. We use real bass players, real guitars, real strings, real horns. I like to keep the music open for the artist and not having it do so much. We don't sample much, we create our own samples to add the uniqueness.” How far would this classic ode to true production take them?
As recently as 2015, KP and his Colleagues production partners traveled to Korea to produce major artists within the high-selling “K-Pop” genre for a truly eye-opening, international experience. And even after such grand affairs, KP still boasts a production resume that’s connected to his roots featuring a who’s who of the Urban genre including T Pain, Plies, Nipsey Hussle, Bankroll Fresh, 2Chainz, YoungDolph, Gucci Mane, Lil Boosie, Caskey, Woop, Dee Boi and Young Dolph. While most producers would reach complacency with such credits, KP still cites major industry goals: “I want to achieve an RIAA-Platinum Plaque, win a Grammy and reach a #1 single on the BillBoard Charts. I’d love to work with Bruno Mars, The Dream, Beyonce and Miguel. I respect all four very much. Very creative and have authentic music.”
If history serves as an indicator, KP has an incredibly high success ratio to reach his goals! Between his appreciation for true artistry and instrumentation, as well as his ability to cater to the artists he’s working with, his potential is limitless. To hear it in his words, the sum of all parts is the greatest part of the equation: “I'm not sure who told me first because I've heard it so much, but relationships are KEY in this industry.”