Atlanta has long been a diverse music hub for aspiring musicians everywhere. Sure the city is known a bit more these amongst music circles for the catchy hip-hop coming from the city's studios but this city gives music lovers much more than that. We sat down with Dres the Beatnik recently to talk music.
Dres the Beatnik first met Atlanta in 1995. He came here to attend Clark Atlanta University but due to the ever so infamous financial aid woes, Dres spent two years at the University before transferring to Temple and returning to Philadelphia. But Atlanta wasn't quite ready to just let Dres go like that. After receiving his BA in Marketing from Temple, Dres was offered a job with a market research firm which he accepted. That same job brought Dres back to Atlanta shortly after, well Dunwoody, and he's been here ever since.
Dres the Beatnik is someone that many would consider to be an avid music fan. He really listens. And he should be listening closely as Dres the Beatnik is not only a hip-hop lyricist but a beatboxer as well. Not to mention, his current favorite toy (his iPod) has over 27,000 songs.
"Music has always been in my life. I grew up with it in my household. Jazz, Motown, TSOP, some gospel... that was in my home," says Dres, "It's always been there it's just [that] I grew up in one of those households where you couldn't really pursue what you wanted to do until you did what you had to do. Hence going to college, getting a degree."
But it wasn't until college that Dres realized he could probably really do something with his passion for music. Though he had a brief stint in Atlanta his first go round, when he came back to the city he really began to explore his passion more. Dres was quickly soaking up the music scene and making himself a staple amongst the local hip-hop crowd. Ten years later, Dres is still making music and increasingly becoming more involved with Atlanta and the Atlanta music scene. There's even a portrait of him hanging in the living room on Tyler Perry's "House of Payne".
"I like to think that I'm blessed in the fact that I'm able to walk into many different circles and I don't take it for granted. All of those experiences help me. There's a side to atlanta that i know everybody doesn't know about, I think atlanta has influenced me in the fact that this is a town that is comprised of immigrants and natives and there's a pretty decent marriage between the two. In regards to hip-hop, there's a whole different war but it has nothing to do with some of the artists, has to do with media and that's sad," said Dres.
When asked about his favorite artists in the city, Dres provides a long list of both veterans and new faces. His list includes: Noot D'noot, Jaspects, Proton, Bink Rec, Senor Kaos, Brittany Bosco, Algebra, Le Castlevania, Van Hunt, Anthony David, Hollyweerd and Sean Falyon.
"It's crazy, I've actually managed to play with all of my favorite artists in Atlanta. But really anyone who's doing it and doing seriously [is a favorite]," said Dres.
And of course Dres has his list of other Atlanta favorites. Like his favorite toy, Simon. Of course other favorites he wasn't so willing to give up.
"My favorite place to go get a drink is The Independent. My fortress of solitude is the patio of Caribou Coffee at Peachtree and Piedmont. My favorite place to look at the city is actually a rooftop of a business office on Means Street. My Favorite sandwich shop is Marcos Pita though no one can ever fuck with the chicken sandwich at The Local (a lot of my hang out spots involve food, forgive me). Favorite place for brunch is Gravity on Dekalb ave. Aside from that home," Dres said.
Neda was inspired for her portrait of Dres by one of his very own childhood photos taken by his mother. It's the infamous photo of a young Dres singing into an extension cord that can be found on his MySpace or Facebook.
"According to my mom, she wasn't feeling good that day and I wanted to cheer her up. So there was an Earth, Wind and Fire (EWF) song on and I started immitating EWF for my mom. I started lip synching 'Reasons' by EWF and she said it made her feel better. And my mom was the biggest shutterbug ever, she had to take pictures of everything," Dres said.
Dres finds his inspiration to continue through his 9-year-old daughter and describes his signature sound as love. His creative process is simple: just listening. These days you can currently find his listening to a few retro tunes.
"I'm in my 90s kick right now. [Laughs] Listening to "New Life" by Intro, "Searching for Tomorrow" by Switch and a few others," Dres said.
Now, Dres is getting ready to head to Shanghai, China with stops in Maccau and Hong Kong. He has residency at Club Bon Bon in Shanghai. He will be conducting beatboxing clinics and lectures while also emceeing and DJing. Visit thebeatnikchronicles.blogspot.com to learn more.
Interview by: Hadiyah Daché