Beedie seeks to establish rap culture in Steel City

Liz Keeney | January 11, 2010    

It’s the beginning of a story many are familiar with: A young rapper enters the hip-hop world… It’s the beginning of a story many are familiar with: A young rapper enters the hip-hop world with a dream and a set of rhyming skills, hoping to make it big. Whether it was a young Biggie Smalls reading Word-Up Magazine after school, Eminem practicing rhyming in his friend’s basement or the Tribe kicking routines on Linden Boulevard, the hip-hop world is littered with stories of rags to riches. And Pittsburgh’s own Emcee Beedie believes his turn is coming soon.

Described as “classic hip-hop with a new-school twist,” Beedie has been working to not only break into the rap scene, but to actually create one in Pittsburgh, a city known more for its sports teams than a thriving rap community.

Born in New York City, Beedie — government name Brian Green — and his family moved up and down the East Coast until finally settling in Pittsburgh when he was thirteen.

“Moving around so much really diversified my output in music, because I feel like I’ve seen life from many different angles,” Green said.

Beedie’s fascination with hip-hop began in the mid-90s when he was only seven or eight.

“I used to sit around my room with my boombox recording mixtapes on actual cassette tapes, anything hot they would play on the radio that would get recorded. Those tapes were like the theme music to my youth,” he said.

Beedie cited rappers such as Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem and Notorious B.I.G. as his main influences, saying the “drive and hustle” as well as the “raw emotion” on certain tracks are what inspired him to start rapping in the first place.

“It made me desire the power to express myself like that,” he said. “To be able to motivate someone else to feel these emotions, just from speaking about my side of my story.”

Like many other aspiring emcees, Beedie honed his skills by listening to and imitating the rhymes of rap all-stars.

Inspired by the more socially conscious sounds of the early to mid-90s, Beedie’s method for writing rhymes is simple.

“The inspiration usually begins when I hear a beat. First I pay attention to how it makes me feel, and decide what I want to talk about,” he explained. “I draw from my everyday experiences.”

As for his intended audience, Beedie said he writes for anyone willing to listen. He wants to help struggling people by inspiring them with music.“At the end of the day I do this for the people who are down to earth and can keep it real,” he said.

According to Beedie, what sets him apart from the pack is his originality. Unlike many current rappers, Beedie tries to focuses on his hip-hop roots to produce quality lyricsas opposed to focusing soley on style and delivery.

“I like to find myself somewhere in the middle ground between substance and swagger. I’m all about including a catchy style and delivery when I rap, but I work lyrical content into everything I write because that’s what I grew up on and those are my roots,” he said.

In the current state of rap, something Beedie describes as “borderline not-even-hip-hop,” it is harder for rappers without a catchy hook or gimmick to make it big.

“It’s difficult to be noticed in the rap world these days. In order to turn heads you have to begin a movement, and you also have to be doing something to stand out from the rest of the pack. Otherwise you’ll just be categorized as one of the million-plus generic rappers out there,” he said.

But Beedie believes he has something other emcees lack.

“There’s definitely quite a few things that set me apart from the rest. I have the courage to do and say what some people won’t, and I can make songs with many different vibes and still sound comfortable and right in place on those tracks,” he said.

Beedie said he wants to make rapping a full-time career in the future.

“I want to continue on my path and move forward as an artist to my fullest extent. I’m not looking to be a star, but I’m going to continue to grind hard and reach for every opportunity I can. I want to wake up every day and have music be my job.”

Beedie admitted that he would like to someday work with big-name producers such as Jake One, Kanye West, The Alchemist, and 9th Wonder, but for now he is focusing his efforts on creating a stronger hip-hop scene in Pittsburgh, a battle he said he faces everyday.

“One common goal we share is to make the scene more interesting and show people that a little unity can go a long way,” he said.

He explained that Pittsburgh “lacks the unity we need in order to take it to the next level as a city,” but that “this isn’t something that we can’t change.”

Over the past year, Beedie has teamed up with several other Pittsburgh artists, including Mac Miller, Franchise, Tip Tha Ill-Spit, Vintage Radio and The Scholars to form the crew East End Empire, with the hopes it will encourage a greater rap community in Pittsburgh.

In the end, however, Beedie is still making music on his own, including his upcoming mixtape “Sleeping In,” a follow up to his previous release “Most Slept On.”

“As an up-and-coming artist, I want to grow with the times, invent my own ways to do things and eventually innovate the game myself,” he said.

Check out Beedie’s Myspace page.

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