It is a Thursday in Atlanta, and Beatking and I are at a barbeque restaurant near the airport. He’s here for A3C, the annual hip-hop festival that functions as an incubator for hip-hop’s next generation. There are a lot of people here who are hungry, but none are hungry as Beatking. For one, he’s on the verge of going from a Texas star and firebrand of progressive strip club tunes to potentially becoming an integral part of the hip-hop ecosystem with Underground Cassette Tape Music, his newest mixtape created in collaboration with Gangsta Boo of Three 6 Mafia. And two, Beatking has a need for food that far exceeds yours or mine. He is currently trying to convince our waitress to swap out his two side orders of vegetables for a third piece of fried catfish.
“The pieces are big,” our waitress, a very sweet woman who appears to be in her mid-50s says.
“Look at me! I’m big!” Beatking responds immediately.
Don’t get it twisted: Beatking is massive in Texas. This is to say, not only can you not empty out a sack of cash in a Lone Star State strip club without some of it landing on a dancer who’s gleefully gyrated to the self-proclaimed Club God’s ratchet anthems, but Beatking himself takes up a large physical space, and he is extremely proud of that fact. His NFL-ready size is only complemented by his music, a wall-of-sound, strip-club ready take on the Houston of yore. That Beatking has delivered two volumes of a mixtape entitled Gangsta Stripper Music should really be all that you need to know in that department. Menacing as his visage might be, Beatking is one of the subtly funniest rappers you’ll encounter, offering freestyled takes on the internet meme of the moment (he recently titled a freestyle “Ebola”), as well as a dry wit that, given the sonic assault of his voice, may very well fly past the listener upon first blush.
While his Club God series as well as his Gangsta Stripper Music tapes offered generous dollops of low-concept, high-reward fun, Underground Cassette Tape Music feels like a statement in ways that Beatking’s other music was not. The tape was conceived as the ultimate tribute to Three 6 Mafia, blurring the lines between homage and canon proper by bringing Gangsta Boo into the equation. Beatking is a versatile, agile producer, and he takes the raw beats, provided by relative unknowns, big names such as Brodinski, Beatking himself, and some remakes of old classics—and makes them sound murky and subterranean, giving them the very quality that a title such as Underground Cassette Tape Music might imply. It’s music for cars and open spaces, no doubt, with bass that stabs relentlessly and synths that even at their brightest have a menacing grit to them.
Meanwhile, Underground Cassette Tape Music features some of the best work lyrically from both Beatking and Gangsta Boo in years. Gangsta Boo, who recently put out a beyond excellent LP with fellow southern legend La Chat entitled Witch, sounds absolutely on fire here, as does Beatking, who relishes the opportunity to join in on the Three 6 legacy. A palpable sense of joy bleeds through muck and mire of the beats and cold-hearted threats of Beatking and Boo’s bars, due to the sheer fun they’re clearly having in indulging in the record’s central conceit. “I’m in that 1999 mindframe,” he tells me.
Noisey: Tell me about the concept of Underground Cassette Tape Music.
Beatking: Number one, Gangsta Boo is my favorite female rapper. When she brought the idea to me that she wanted to do a mixtape together, I was like, “Lemme see if my schedule’s clear… HELL YEAH IT’S CLEAR LET’S GET THIS SHIT POPPIN’!” This gave me the opportunity to do songs in that style and have a member of Three 6 Mafia on them. She was like, “They gotta be hard. A mixture of what Houston is what the screwed and chopped music, and represent what Memphis is. No candy-ass bullshit.” I grew up off them, so I know how to blend it. Underground Cassette Tape Music sounds like some shit you’d be jammin’ from Swishahouse in 1999, from Screw in 1999, or if you was jammin’ DJ Paul and Lord Infamous’ Come to Hell with Me II in 1995. The beats are very dark. This is probably my darkest tape. They let you know what trap music would sound like before it was called trap and was just hard music.
Listen to Underground Cassette Tape Music, featuring guest appearances from Paul Wall, RiFF RAFF, Danny Brown, Daz Dillinger, 8Ball, OJ da Juice Man, and Lil Flip, below.
You don’t smoke or drink, do you?
It’s weird. I’m in a game that does it. I get to my shows, the promoters try to give me coke and lean, and I’m like [waves hand] “No thank you! I just want the money.” I promote it, though. I make party music, so my fanbase is drugged out. They be on lean, they be on mollies, they be on coke. They do it at my shows. I see ‘em. I don’t need it because I’m already naturally turnt up.
What’s the most turnt you’ve ever been?
At a car show in 2011. I had an out-of-body experience. You’re not ready for 30,000 people to scream the words to your shit.
What kind of car do you drive?
I drive a truck. I’m a grown-ass man.
I think outside of the south, people are just now catching on to you.
I’ve been rapping all my life, but my first national song was “Independent Bitches” by Candi Redd. The next year, my single “Crush” came out, and that’s when my life as Beatking started for real. Before that, I was a MySpace rapper like everybody else. Man, I loved my MySpace. MySpace went hard, man. You put a new song on MySpace you thought you was really poppin’. I used to rap with Chamillionaire’s youngest brother. I dropped a couple solo projects, then the Candi Redd song came out. I started calling myself “Club God.” That was the “brand,” and I started believing that shit in my head. I been grinding for a long time. People are just starting to find out. That “Ebola Freestyle,” people are just realizing that I’ve been doing this for years.
You do meme-themed freestyles, yeah?
Have you done one for Pharrell’s gigantic hat?
Nah. [Laughs] It ain’t ratchet enough. But for real, that hat is its own character. That’s smart. You need that. You think Waka Flocka, you think dreads. You think Rick Ross, you think the bear. You think Danny Brown, you think the teeth. Pharrell, you think about that hat.
What’s your thing?
My thing is being 6’2” and fat. That’s what helps me stand out in the club. DJ’s are like, “I need to play that dude, he may hit me.”
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