“I used to play trumpet when I was really little,” said Imp Beatz, 22 year old rapper/producer and native of Baltimore. “Soon as I seen how shiny that b**** was I wanted to play it,” he laughed. His passion for music began when he was introduced to jazz. “It sounded beautiful to me,” said Beatz, “that’s when I started making beats.”
Recently, Beatz performed at an open mic for Coppin State University. The crowd found his sound(s) so catchy that he was granted additional time to perform. “I appreciated that because those were songs where I meant everything I said. The beat played from my heart.”
West Side Story is his sole project, which is a mixtape available for download (for free.) “Something that’s crazy about those beats is that all those beats were remixes of beats I made when I was younger…I would loop a lot of my old s*** and make new beats over them.” On the tape, he chronicles experiences from growing up in west side Baltimore. It is a raw showing of life in the ghetto and its explicit reality.
He refines his craft by being honest. “Basically, I try to be honest with everybody. I try to tell the truth all day, so when I write it’ll be second nature.” He continued, “I don’t want to be lying all day and try to turn around and tell the truth like what the f***?” He described truthful works of music as “collages of beauty,” and he added, “If you lie, you miss out on that subconscious work.” He wants his music to be true to him and his audience. “All I’m trying to do is tell the truth, you feel me? A lot of rappers out here are promoting anything. I don’t even appreciate that s***.”
“Other artists are only half of what you listen to.” Unlike most rappers, Beatz creates his own beats. “You could hear a beat with all this creativity, but it isn’t reflective of the artist but [rather] the producer. You might hear a song like ‘yo, he got the Aaliyah sample on there.’ No he don’t. The producer got the Aayliyah sample on there.”
Beatz expressed his dissatisfaction with current hip-hop that lacks purpose. “I’m tired of music as something that just takes up space. What is it for?” He wants each song he creates to have a specific function. “When you working out, you need to listen to this one. When you waking up, you need to listen to this one. When you ‘bout to kill somebody and not do that…,” he jokingly added.
The sun is a source of inspiration for Beatz. “When I see it I want to go make something just as beautiful. I got the sun tatted on my chest. It’s a aztec design.” Beatz said that a book resonated with him and sparked his intrigue. “My mother handed me a book, Knowledge of the Secret Heart, [and] a passage in there talked about how people and the sun are one.”
“Imp Beatz” is a name that a childhood friend gave him. “I had a old name DJ Xscalez,” he paused and chuckled, “and I was tired of that s***.” His friend suggested that the name be changed, so they bounced ideas. “We kept going back and forth. This was when I was young for real. You (the author) was the second person to buy a beat from me.”
Photo credit: Dreamer Loop