The bright yellow, red and white lights illuminate the stage and the first row of skeptical listeners. They were unsure of what was to come from the next artist. “TGIF, TGIF, TGIF, thank God I’m Fly!” echo off the walls of The Knitting Factory as The White House Band, also known as David E. Beats, commands the stage. As the performance progresses, the crowd nods and bobs to the beat beginning their own “TGIF that God I’m fly!” chant along with Beats. The atmosphere is electric.
The high energy audience of The Knitting Factory and the chance to perform all around the city is what drew Beats to the bright lights of New York opposed to another major market.
“I kinda felt like Atlanta was a bit too overcrowded. I felt like L.A. was too far.” Beats said as he chuckled thinking about how far west he has traveled. “But I have some friends here in New York and this is where it all started so I figured I might as well be here and make it work.”
The thought to cash in on the opportunities that New York has to offer first sprouted when Beats was 14. He credits listening to hip-hop icon Jay-Z’s “The Blueprint” as his inspiration to pursue a music career. Although he was not the most liked kid on the block, he endured a childhood in Washington, D.C. until he was 17. Then he left home to move to New York for the chance to be a star.
In addition to “The Blueprint’s” motivation, he is inspired by other rap legends such as Eminem, Rakim, and Nas. He is also motivated by trying to create a life so that when he has kids they do not have to grow up the same way he did. He is not what some may call a “paper-chaser.” He is not driven by the pursuit of making money.
“I’m not going to kill anyone over money, I’m not going to sell my mother for money, I’m not going to shake my ass. I’m not going to sell my soul to get paid.” Beats said humbly.
While chasing his music dreams, he had to adjust to a new lifestyle in N.Y.C.
“D.C. is very closed-minded. They’re into one sound and one sound only and that’s it.” Beats reminisced. “New York is more diverse. Different kinds of people, different areas. Its like if one clique isn’t for you there’s always another one.”
The White House Band’s style is one that suit’s the New York style. He features a fusion of hip-hop and rock, a combination that can appeal to different cliques in the diverse New York area. He attributes this witty mix to his childhood of listening to rock and hip-hop.
“Everywhere I go, every state I go to people seem to fall in love with it. Its really the industry that doesn’t want to take a risk with it.” said Beats.
He tries to create a balance of an old school New York hip-hop flow with a new school twist. The lyrics that fuel Beats’ musical engine are inspired by people who ridicule him for following his dream of becoming a hip-hop star. Most of his lyrics are also conjured up from his daily life.
In addition to his unique style, The White House Band sports a unique name. Generally, when the word band appears in a name, there will be multiple members involved. The White House Band is an exception. David E. Beats is a one man band. This is because at a younger age Beats wanted to start a band and he determined that The White House Band would be the name. The idea stuck adding another twist to an already unconventional style.
Beats’ biggest accomplishment has been getting to the point where he is now, where he can focus solely on his music without having to work a nine to five while chasing his dreams.
“Its like a gift and a curse.” he said. “You’re solely responsible for your own stuff. Its like if you don’t work, you don’t eat.”
Currently, Beats has a newly released mix tape entitled “Renaissance.” In just one day, the album received close to 4,000 listens online. With no tours or albums in the works, he looks to continue to promote his mix tape and build his fan base. To do so he will continue to release more videos and perform in venues throughout New York. He will also release another mix tape later in the year.
As an independent artist, Beats cites getting his name out and people to get on board with his style as a major obstacle for him.
“There’s a lot of resistance when people hear that I’m a hip-hop/rock fusion.” Beats said.
When he gets people to listen, they usually fall in love with his music. During a recent performance, Beats had everyone in the audience bobbing their heads completely on board with his hip-hop/rock style.
His goal for 2012 is to build his fan base by making more videos and going out to promote his mix tape. By the end of 2012, he wants his music out there not because he puts it out there but because people want it out there. In the future, he would like to work with people such as Lil B, Emilia Rojas and Nitty Scott.
He makes music to be heard more so than to reap the financial benefit, but he does not want to end up going back to D.C to pump gas.
“I just really want to do something with my life. I want people to remember me. I don’t want to leave this life without having made an impact in some way.”