Kevin Beacham recalls making plenty of phone calls. Most weren’t returned.
But his mindset was to keep trying, keep pushing forward, keep working toward his goals.
A project manager for indie record label Rhymesayers, Beacham talked about his story and how he got to where he is during IPR’s Jan. 27 Inside Tracks.
These days, it’s Beacham who is getting calls from aspiring artists in the hip-hop game. And more often than not, he tells them no. People need perspective, he said.
“If me saying ‘no’ breaks them, then they don’t have the heart to move forward,” said Beacham, who also teaches Hip Hop Essentials at IPR.
The exchange with Kevin Bowe — a fellow instructor who hosted the event — says a lot about the power of having a positive attitude when it comes to getting ahead in the music business. It takes guts, Bowe said, to continue striving for your goals in the face of a setback. It’s not about a “lucky break,” he said, it’s about hard work.
Beacham agreed. When it comes to success in the music industry, “Being resourceful is one of the most important things.”
The two discussed the rise of hip-hop and Beacham’s evolving path in the game. During his time in the business, Beacham has worked in:
Bowe talked about the value of Beacham’s experiences, adding that it’s always important to say “yes” to opportunities and have several irons in the fire.
Among the students who attended the Inside Tracks event, Zac Schilling said he received plenty of good advice.
The 19-year-old from Mound, who said he’s a “huge” Rhymesayers fan, found Beacham’s talk “very informative; very cool.”
Schilling, currently working toward an entertainment business degree, said he appreciated the background from Beacham and the “encouragement to keep moving forward.”
Another attendee, Cody Sullivan, said he’d heard of Beacham as a “smart guy with Rhymesayers” and wanted to hear about the instructor’s journey through the music business.
“This guy is doing it,” said Sullivan, a 19-year-old from Maplewood. “This guy is important.”
He recalled Beacham’s story about wanting to find a permanent job in the industry by the time he was 33. The fact that Sullivan gave himself a similar deadline (but age 23) put things in perspective.
Sullivan, who is studying audio production and engineering, said he plans to take Beacham’s Hip Hop Essentials course next quarter.
As for the world of hip-hop, Beacham said he sees a growth of “meeting in the middle,” as artists connect with fans via social media. The new generation of musicians also seems to have a greater appreciation for what came before, digging through older tunes for inspiration, he said. Beacham noted that when he was younger, songs a few years old were sometimes deemed obsolete.
That appreciation for the old-school can be seen in modern music, as artists pull from decades of rap, he said.
“I don’t think there’s been a better time, overall, for hip-hop,” Beacham said.
One thing that will continue as hip-hop evolves is the accessibility of the music, he said. Rap has always been different from other genres in that you don’t need a lot of equipment to make music. “User friendly,” Beacham said. The drum machines of the 1980s allowed artists to create songs in their homes, which helped foster creativity and opened the production process up to more people.
And at Rhymesayers, they get plenty of freedom in the studio.
“You have to let artists create the art,” Beacham said.
Having such a strong independent hip-hop label is rare, said Bowe, the host.
“Other cities don’t have things like Rhymesayers,” he said. “They just don’t.”
For the IPR students who attended the Inside Tracks event, Beacham had one last piece of advice for those looking to find their footing in the industry.
“Push through it,” he said.