Kawan “KP” Prather has certainly assumed many roles throughout his storied career in the entertainment industry.
He stands out as an A&R legend, esteemed executive, established producer, soundtrack curator, headlining DJ, and GRAMMY® Award-winning songwriter. However, this multitalented visionary sums up his persona in the most appropriate (and super) of terms...
“I feel like Professor Charles Xavier,” he smiles "I see mutants and the greatness that they possess. I want to create an X-Men-type of school where I can help guide talented mutants to realizing their full potential and achieving massive success.”
For KP, that success came as the result of tireless work. Born and raised in Vine City, Atlanta, he can recall spinning records in his early teens during family gatherings and as his mom got ready to go out. Around this time, he joined forces with Reese and Mello to form the group Parental Advisory, getting his first taste of DJ-ing professionally.
In high school, he linked up with the burgeoning Dungeon Family and learned how to properly produce by osmosis. His innate ability to communicate between artists, writers, and producers caught the attention of L.A. Reid and Perri “Pebbles” Reid—who heard Parental Advisory.
“I ended up being the communicator, which I didn’t necessarily think was a talent,” he admits. “My goal was to make every album feel like an event or an experience that tells a story. For me, it was just about connecting great people with other great people. L.A. taught me that I was actually doing A&R.”
Personally hired by L.A. as Vice President of A&R at LaFace Records in 1996, KP went on to A&R a string of seminal classics for the RIAA diamond-selling, six-time GRAMMY® Award-winning OutKast, including ATLiens, Aquemini, Stankonia, and Big Boi and Dre Present...OutKast. Concurrently, he oversaw the breakout of P!nk and Usher in between launching his own Ghet-O-Vision imprint and signing future “King of the South” Tip “T.I.” Harris and YoungBloodz. Transitioning from LaFace/Arista to Senior VP of A&R at Columbia Records in 2001, his hot streak continued as he signed John Legend and fostered the R&B crooner’s explosion with the release of “Ordinary People” in 2004 for the icon’s major label debut Get Lifted.
“As far as A&R goes, it’s not about finding someone or making them famous,” he explains. “The only thing you can do is coach and guide. When I’m working on a record, I try to make sure that there’s an honesty in it that people can relate to. You want artists' specific talents to translate to the masses. When I meet a special artist, it’s like I can already see them on a stadium stage. It just takes coaching to get them there.”
Following his time as Executive Vice President of A&R at Sony Urban Music from 2005- 2007, he turned his attention to producing alongside Malay [Frank Ocean, Alessia Cara, ZAYN]. They built an impressive discography together, manning the board behind John Legend’s platinum-certified, GRAMMY® Award-nominated “Green Light” [feat. André 3000], Fantasia’s “The Thrill Is Gone” [feat. Cee-Lo Green], Jamie Foxx’s “15 Minutes,” Big Boi’s “Something’s Gotta Give” [feat. Mary J. Blige], and more.
He went from SVP of A&R at Def Jam to Head of Urban A&R (East Coast) at Atlantic Records in 2011 where he inked a deal with Kap G and reunited with T.I. for the blockbuster chart-topping gold-selling, Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head. In between everything, he signed YelaWolf to Ghet-O-Vision and subsequently launched the Alabama spitter’s career producing a number of cuts on the acclaimed Trunk Muzik 0- 60 and Radioactive.
During 2015, Pharrell tapped KP to become Head of Music at his creative venture i am OTHER. As Head Of Music, KP consulted on the soundtrack for Dope in addition to cultivating the careers of Kap G, BIA, and WatchTheDuck. Meanwhile, he also co-wrote Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” with alongside Pharrell, for which he took home the 2016 GRAMMY® Award for “Best Rap Song.”
Simultaneously, KP has cemented himself as one of the industry’s most in-demand DJs. A master on the decks, he’s lit up the stages of Miami’s Rolling Loud Festival, Complex Magazine’s ComplexCon, Atlanta’s Jazz Festival, One Music Fest and many more (as well as features in some of today’s top music and lifestyle sites such as Complex, DJ Mag, Bossip, Stupid Dope, Rolling Out, and Upscale Magazine. 2017 saw him close out Rolling Loud Festival with a show-stopping performance on Saturday night.
No matter what he does, he lives up to his personal motto, “Be Great.” Ultimately, that mindset fuels KP’s future as well.
“The goal is always to be great,” he leaves off. “Boxes are in your mind. You can exercise any thoughts you have. I get to write, be an executive, and a DJ as well as a human being and a father because I’m doing everything to the best of my ability.”