By Michael Phillips
Finis “KY” White, a multi-platinum audio engineer and Kentucky native, isn’t just a hit maker – he’s a career builder.
“Everything that you’ve heard, K has touched,” said the critically-acclaimed and massively successful rapper 2 Chainz at a recent open-house workshop in Atlanta where White invited press and aspiring engineers to take a glimpse inside his creative process and his workshop.
White’s reach in popular music in the last decade is remarkable, to say the least. He’s been instrumental in creating an absurd number of chart-topping singles and best-selling records for top artists like Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, A$AP Rocky, Waka Flaka Flame, and Drake just to name a few. Beyond the glitz and glam of hip-hop, White’s story is a testament to the idea that if you can make it in showbiz, you can make it anywhere.
Music as an outlet
As a kid, White knew he wanted to pursue a career in music. Even after he landed on audio engineering as his field of focus, the opportunity to attend college to sharpen his skill was never quite within his reach in the impoverished outskirts of Lexington. But, if growing up where he did taught him anything, discipline and hard work pays off.
Although his dream of a future in music never wavered, White has had to navigate his share of bumps in the road throughout his meteoric rise. According to a recent interview, White actually had to move to Atlanta twice before he found his break. The first time, with a music collective from his neighborhood in Lexington right after he graduated high school. White quickly found the lifestyle to be too fast and too expensive and rather than trying to keep up, he kept his eye on the prize.
White moved back to Kentucky and spent a year and a half sacrificing his social life to get to work. He found a steady stream of income and experience working in a movie theater running sound and video projections. After rebuilding his confidence and bank account in Lexington, White moved back to Atlanta to pursue music professionally again. Once he was there, he fortuitously began collaborating with another friend from Lexington. Because of this chance encounter, he was able to lock in his first opportunity through Hot Beats Recording Studio. His career was officially back on track because of his hometown connections and values.
The leap to multi-platinum engineer and music mogul
In the decade that followed, White has created an astounding portfolio beginning with his work on Lil Wayne’s legendary mixtape “No Ceilings.” He’s built a reputation in the industry as an indispensable, supportive, and hard-working engineer who enables artists to put out their best work. In the process, he’s redefined the role of the audio engineer in today’s music culture, stating “If I think what you got is dope, I’m gonna bring it to [other artists] because that’s also part of my job as an engineer.” Where sound engineers in the past would work exclusively in the studio in a removed, isolated capacity, White has moved to make the experience more inclusive and collaborative.
White opened Bass Recording Studios in 2016 in Atlanta, GA, and has steadfastly maintained his work with chart-topping talent and relentlessly inspired young entrepreneurs with his motto and go-to hashtag, #HardWorkPaysOff. White is constantly looking to improve himself and grow, and that mentality has its roots in his Kentucky upbringing.
White recently received a frame in the mail containing six Platinum certifications for his work on “Pretty Girls Like Trap Music” by 2 Chainz. The album went Platinum along with four Platinum singles and one Double Platinum single. 2 Chainz said it best when he commented on White’s importance: “You just want to be around somebody who knows how to get that dream across that night.” KY White has been and will continue to be that figure in so many artists’ careers.
On July 30, Kentucky to the World will host From Risk Taking to Hit Making, an event that will feature a conversation between Finis ‘KY’ White and WFPK radio host Sean Cannon. Watch the clip below for a preview of White’s insight and join us to learn more about how a humble Kentucky beginning has helped shape the music landscape as we know it today.
Save your seat today: https://www.kentuckycenter.org/all-shows/finis-ky-white