Indianapolis-Based Music Producer Climbs Charts

Kelson Camp is 23 years old and now has production credit on rapper Wale’s new hit single.

Billboard’s No. 1 album last week had production from an undiscovered Indianapolis talent. Indeed, this city has become a breeding ground for young entrepreneurs in recent times. Enter 23-year-old independent rap producer Kelson Camp.

First, he dropped out of college. But Camp made enough noise during his short run in Ball State University’s music technology program to be referred to Tiara Thomas, an up-and-coming musician and fellow student hot on the hunt for a producer. “It’s not necessarily that I didn’t need schooling, but at the point where I was at, I didn’t need it for what I wanted to do,” Camp says. “I feel like I know what’s good and what’s bad. Working with music every day is what I’ve always done.”

Camp and Thomas had instant chemistry, and began producing tracks for fun in Camp’s bedroom. Amidst the music making, one track—now known as “Bad”—became a favorite. And thanks to a connection Thomas made during a trip to Atlanta, it was heard by rap superstar Wale. [Note: Wale performed at Indiana University in April.]

Camp never thought the song would catch anyone’s attention.

“I guess the track stood out to everyone that heard it,” he says. “Probably because at the time I didn’t typically do hip-hop production. But they called and were like, not only are we going to use it, but it’s going to be the lead single on [Wale’s] album that’s coming out.”

Thomas is now signed to Interscope Records, and Camp has become a hot commodity. He’s now a producer on the album that debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, while that lead single, “Bad,” has already been certified gold by the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA). The music video has nearly 20 million views.

Not bad for a college dropout.

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