Not only was I proud to be conduct this interview because BeeKay is a fellow Illini, but I was also proud to see that a young person around my age had such high aspirations. Not only for what he thought would get his music out, but to also inspire other young people to make good decisions and to pursue their dreams. Here’s my interview with Chicago’s own BeeKay, an unsigned artist with more to offer than just the music.
Smile Politely: What was your thought process to make 8 Semesters?
BeeKay: I found myself originally writing songs and verses, and they were kind of used as a way to get those mental thought processes out. Things that I was currently living in at the current moment, my situations or thoughts or just things I was experiencing over a certain period of time. And then those little pieces of writing started turning into full songs and well thought out ideas. Then I kind of took a step back and realized that they all had a central theme, it’s really addressing like a very important point in life for everybody. That college experience, where people get to go out and experience the world for themselves. They get to grow as an individual, they get to learn more about themselves probably more than staying at home and living in that comfort zone. The title itself probably came from just trying to finding a really creative way to express that given time in life. Even if you didn’t go to college, you know what that’s like. You kinda know what it’s like to make decisions and just kinda live through those experiences.
SP: What do you expect people to get from your mixtape now that it’s been out?
BeeKay: The first thing I want people to gain is awareness and knowledge that I’m not playing around—we’re not playing around—honestly. Through this college experience, we’ve understood that we have a gift. We all have talents and we’re driven towards the things that even brought us to college. Just like dreams of being successful and just reaching those goals that we probably had as kids but we can actually reach them. So nobody is gonna tell us that we can’t and no one is going to stop us from doing it. It’s not really “if,” it’s kind of more so when, a matter of time, when it’s the right time to do it. So that’s the first thing I want people to know, that we’re serious. The next thing that I want people to gather from the mixtape—or the album, that’s what I’ve been calling it—I probably want people to use my story, and use my perspective on me, the world, things that affect me and I want them to pull themselves out of it. I would want somebody to learn something about themselves because I learned a lot about myself through taking myself through those mental processes, listening back, going back in. I learned a lot about myself just making it, just making the project. Once people get past the production and the punch lines, I really want them to dig deeper and see what I was going for and see the message that I really put out with the overall project.
SP: Well that sounds very inspiring. Was that your intention, to inspire people? Especially being a college graduate.
BeeKay: Essentially, yeah. I’m really big on stuff like education. I definitely want to send that message that you can live that lifestyle. I mean the drug dealers and the people that dropped out of school—Kanye, The College Dropout. Jay Z, never went to college—Like all these people that are so accomplished… Up until J. Cole, a rapper that came out of college was either unheard of or he didn’t talk about it. So, I want to send that message that you can go to school and not only do it and make it but you’ll probably be richer than the people that made it without school because you have essentially taken jobs that you would pay people $50,000 a year, $100,000 a year. And you’re able to do this yourself. I almost made my own album cover, I had to pay a guy that goes to school here to do it but our marketing strategies—we don’t really outsource anything, too much of anything—that’s how the whole DreamWork concept was made on, not outsourcing and being our own bosses and employees.
SP: So, what separates you from other unsigned artists especially in Illinois? Because after Chief Keef kind of blew up, there’s been like a wave of rappers.
BeeKay: It’s been like open season for that type of stuff [laughs]. What separates me from other rappers, especially in Illinois, I care about music. There are a lot of artists that care about numbers. It’s just about money to them, it’s just about drugs and violence to them and whatever. They focus so much on the vices of life that that’s kinda what they’re all about. Drake said, “stick to the weed these days cause the drugs got people going crazy” and I agree. I definitely think that’s true but the thing that separates me is the intention behind what I’m trying to give out and the way that I approach the music so you don’t hear one distinct sound with the production. I pay a lot of attention to the production because I feel like the production kind of reels people in, so it’s very diverse. You get different sounds, a powerful sound. And I’m real intense and my intention with my lyrics and the way that I go about it. The way I go about writing the songs and putting it together so I want to say the thing that makes me different is probably everything, haha. Pretty much everything, you know, as a man, as a young 22 year old. I like cars, I like women, I mean I talk about that, I won’t lie, I have my vices. And I’m vain to a certain extent but that’s not what I’m all about. I think that that comes out and people see that and it comes out and you can see that distinction from me and the other rappers in Chicago.
SP: Now that you have graduated, what do you think you’ll be doing to further your career as a rapper?
BeeKay: I put my advertising degree to full use with my music career and I did that on purpose to intentionally use it towards my music career.
SP: So now that you’re free from school, what do you plan to do now?
BeeKay: The same thing we’ve been doing. I spend a lot more time in Chicago now, I spend a lot more time in the studio, working with videos. My job, the job that I have, it’s only function is to get to where we want to go with the music. All the efforts are diverged to the music, to building our brand, to furthering our steps to where we want to be. I don’t really think anybody is going to slow that up or stop this. I don’t think the ultimate goal is to get signed, I think that the ultimate goal is to be heard, get the message out there. I think that with that, we’ll be able to live comfortably, the way we want to. We’ll be able to live exactly how we want to live but getting rich is not the plan. The plan is to change lives and to identify with people that don’t want to kill somebody and that don’t want to take a thousand drugs either. They got somewhere they want to go and they’re willing to work for it, those are the people I want to speak to.
SP: In the next year, where do you see yourself being?
BeeKay: In the next year, without getting too descriptive, I see us taking some significant strides in the right direction. I see us definitely making some big power moves, more so to increase our reach, trying to make sure that more people hear us, more people vibe with us. You know there’s strength in numbers but we want to bring them in the right way. In the next year, we’re going to keep doing what we think is best. We’re going to keep putting out more music and whatever comes along with. A lot of good moves and a lot of good music, that’s what I can definitely guarantee.
You can check out BeeKay at his 8 Semesters release party at the Canopy Club tonight with Tha Great Thinkaz, Young Blu, and Josi Green. Show starts at 8:30 p.m.