Beedie: Footsteps of Wiz and Mac?
• Last year, Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller became breakout stars, but is there room in the vast hip-hop universe for another rapper out of Taylor Allderdice?
Beedie, whose real name is Brian Green, is confident that there is.
"I don't see it as something that matters whether or not I went to Allderdice. I know there is room for me simply because I'm me," he says. "Growing up in Pittsburgh, specifically the east side, means Wiz and Mac and I were definitely inspired by a lot of the same things and surroundings. But I wouldn't know what I would be doing or where I would be if I weren't doing music. I have my own story to tell about my own experiences, and that is what makes me unique."
The 24-year-old, who was born in New York, certainly has a unique ancestry for a rapper. His grandmother is Mildred Miller (no relation to Mac) Posvar, who was a famed opera singer and founder of Opera Theater of Pittsburgh.
"My grandmother insisted that all of my cousins and I took piano lessons from a young age and were taught the importance and power of emotion that music carries," he says. "Hip-hop music is also something I learned about at a young age, from my peers and my older cousins. I attached myself to it early on because I felt like it was the ultimate form of expression, and throughout growing up could connect my experiences to the music and could relate to the hip-hop lifestyle. I consider my early interests in these things one of the reasons I am so hands-on with my music today."
Beedie started out five years ago with Miller as the duo The Ill Spoken, which helps explain the similarities between the rappers (they're actually working on a track together right now called "The Ill Spoken"). Realizing they were emcees with their own separate visions, they went their own way and he released his first solo mixtape, "Most Slept On," in 2009, and then hooked up with rapper Jon Quest to form the duo Varsity Squad in 2010. Last year, he issued "The Beat Bully" LP.
Now, he's returned with the EP "Above the Weather," seven songs narrowed down from the 60 he recorded that showcase the rapper, who has a similar cadence to Miller with a thicker, more mature vocal quality. The tracks, produced the likes of Statik Selektah, Buckwild and ID Labs, with guest spots from Gene Stovall, Ricardo Iamuuri and Jon Quest, have a lush R&B/soul feel.
The album, he says, "is almost like a makeover in a sense. To quote Gang Starr, 'the rhyme style is elevated, the style of beats is elevated.' I feel like I have grown a lot as an emcee and a person, and my ability to paint a picture has become more vivid. It's a much more modern sound. 'The Beat Bully LP' as a whole was a much darker record (I mean that in a good way, though). I wanted it to showcase my roots in golden-era boom-bap. But it had a similar balance to 'Above The Weather.' Both I consider some of my best work."
It remains to be seen whether Beedie can follow Wiz and Mac into the mainstream, but he says their success "has definitely been inspiring for me. It has let me know that hard work and consistency can really pay off."
As for support from his family, he says, "To be completely honest, I'm not sure how serious my family took to my goals in hip-hop music at first, but they have since come around to support what I do. They knew that I was passionate about it and wanted to see me happy, even before there were record labels looking into me."
Beedie plays a release show at the Shadow Lounge, East Liberty, at 10 p.m. Saturday; www.shadowlounge.net.
• Paul Labrise & the Trees -- led by the former member of Boxstep, Bitter Delores and the Breakup Society -- will release its latest album, the 15-track "Midnight Mantra," with a show at Club Cafe on Friday.
The album features a band full of scene veterans -- guitarist Greg Anderson, bassist Ray Vasko and drummer Tom Emmerling, with Mega Williams -- playing dreamy, jangly rock in the vein of mellow R.E.M.
The show is at 10:30 p.m.; $8.music