A lot of kids grow up having ambitious dreams — traveling to the moon, being a world-famous singer or becoming a successful athlete. For graduate transfer and wide receiver Batchlor Wise Johnson IV, having just one of these dreams wasn’t enough.
Johnson comes from a rich musical heritage. His grandmother Barbara Lynn, an R&B singer in the 1960s, produced chart-toppers like “You’ll Lose a Good Thing.” As she gained notoriety, Mick Jagger asked if he could produce and record her song, “Oh! Baby (We Got a Good Thing Goin).” Lynn’s son, Batchlor Wise Johnson III, eventually entered the music scene as a rapper
“My dad did the whole rapping thing in the 90s and wanted a bunch of kids to start his own Jackson Five,” Johnson said. “My dad had us performing everything, whether it was talent shows, church events, special musical numbers, stuff like that.”
Johnson was exposed to big names in the industry because of his family’s musical background. Growing up, they would record music at the studio of Mathew Knowles, Beyoncé’s father. These experiences allowed Johnson to see the amount of work it takes to make it in music.
While music was a big part of his childhood, Johnson said he also took a great interest in sports at a young age. His dad never pushed sports on him, but when he introduced him to football, Johnson decided he wanted to be great. As a 9-year-old, he would run routes and workout with a weighted vest in their backyard.
He soon became passionate about both music and football. Entertaining and getting people to smile is something he has always loved, and he wanted to find a way to marry both of his interests.
“My goal since I was a kid was to play in the Super Bowl and perform in the half-time show,” Johnson said.
Johnson worked on his sports craft and came to BYU for two years before transferring to the University of Utah to finish out his undergraduate degree. After his fair share of struggles at Utah, the opportunity arose for him to accept a scholarship for graduate school at BYU. During his time in Provo, he has been able to focus on academics, football and music as he tries to make the most out of all three. Continuing to develop his brand has also been one of his priorities.
Johnson writes all of his own lyrics; it’s his way of expressing his individuality. He likes to be a little flashy, dressing as if the paparazzi is always around. Creating his own brand is important, but there have been musicians who inspired him throughout the process, including Michael Jackson, Chris Brown and Usher, all in the R&B vein of music. His music is created to be, “country lyrics with hip-hop feel,” Johnson said. “Country songs because they focus on symbols and things that matter, and Hip-hop because it’s the culture. You can’t rock without the beat.”
Part of Johnson’s persona is promoting good things to inspire those who come across his music. He keeps his lyrics profanity-free and uplifting while striving to be someone people can look up to.
“If I could have a world tour and the night before have a musical fireside for every city, that’s where I feel like I would be at the peak of my life,” Johnson said. “Typically, a guy who looks like me isn’t LDS, but by the way he lives his life and the way he writes his music, you can see it.”
During his time in Provo, Johnson said there are two people who have aided him in achieving these goals. Jourden Skillman and Mitchell Bashford, two “musical geniuses,” who use music to express their identities and their brands. With just this little team, they create, write, mix and perfect each song, start to finish, in a townhome. The mic is placed in front of the open closet so the sound doesn’t bounce off the walls, Johnson said. In a way, this adds to not only his brand but to Skillman’s and Bashford’s as well.
Skillman helps create unique ideas and beats for Johnson to then add lyrics.
“Oftentimes, I hear a song or a melody in my head and it’s just a matter of translating it into something real,” Skillman said. “When I make music with Batchlor, I usually make the beat and everything except for the vocals.”
Bashford is junior studying audio engineering with a minor in business and another key player in developing music. He’ll create a beat or melody of his own, then send it to Johnson. If he likes it, they’ll continue to develop the idea.
“I play the instruments and get the structure of the song,” Bashford said. “I’ll also mix the song, make it cohesive with the whole thing.”
Johnson and his team continue to produce music consistently and showcase it during various performances. He hopes that his relentless attitude shows through his schoolwork, music and athletic endeavors. His goals continue to be ambitious to motivate him. “My eyes have been set on the 2021 Grammys,” Johnson said. “That’s been my goal for a minute now.”