Will Beatty — who raps under the name Beetyman — is quick to point out exactly what he expects from fellow hip-hop artists: Honesty ranks high, and by extension, authenticity.
Really, it has to do with speaking about what you know, and much of what Beatty knows has to do with being the underdog. The Oklahoma City artist often has felt he assumed that role in life, in everything from music to basketball.
“I played at Classen SAS. We were a terrible team,” Beatty said. “No one expected us to win. We were always the underdogs. I guess I never got out of that.”
He got his start late in high school, rapping with a crew of fellow Oklahoma musicians known as Puzzle People (featuring Jabee and more). The work wasn’t bad, but Beatty felt like something was missing.
“When I was first starting ... well, I was young,” he said. “I was just trying to say the most clever, wittiest punch lines and stringing them altogether, but it didn’t have much depth or meaning. It was catchy, but there wasn’t much to hold onto. I wanted to go a little deeper.”
Digging into a stack of records by Common, Kanye West and the like, he emerged with the motif of being an underdog as the central concept of what would become his solo debut, “The Underdog.”
A lot of people underestimate what we have here.
“A lot of people don’t really know about Oklahoma, and underestimate what we have here,” he said. “People don’t think that we have any rappers, and when the Thunder came, everyone thought they were always going to be a bad team. I hadn’t really had much recognition up to that point, and I thought that this would be the best way to approach my first album and represent myself for the first time. I stepped into my own a little bit."Listen to Beetyman at his Bandcamp page.
The disc came out last month, and Beatty is already thinking about a follow-up.
“I idolize people who take pride in their craft, that never feel as though they’ve done their best work,” he said. “I kind of put myself in that position.”
The future sees him finishing his studies at the University of Central Oklahoma, as well as playing more shows, making more tracks, especially once college is in the rearview mirror.
“It can be a struggle, doing both,” Beatty said. “If you love to do it, you’ll find a way to. I’m ready to get done at school so I can push a little harder.”
Photo by Vernon D./Grpfly.com