“I do recognize that no one can make it out here in this world alone… I might not be able to change the world overnight but I can at least contribute. All the world’s a stage and everyone can contribute a verse, I just want mine to be heard.”
“My name is Andre Karim Lett. I’m publicly known as D.R.E.S. tha BEATnik and I am an underground concierge. I’m a host and an emcee, a human beat boxer, and lecturer, and promoter, and I make sure everybody gets what they need, when they need it, and how they need it.
“I started 4Kings Entertainment in Philly with three of my best friends – we all attended Martin Luther King, Jr. High School, hence the name 4Kings. We started with Sunday get-togethers and house parties and all that. It’d feel very Dead Poets Society-esque. [We’d] share stories, music, books, magazines; my grandmother would cook Sunday dinner for us. Every time we’d get together, we’d ask people to bring someone new the next week. It got to the point where it got so big that we had to find somewhere else to go. I kept it going pretty much until I graduated high school.
“[About two years after college I] ended up brushing off the business plan that was 4Kings Entertainment. I decided to put it to work. I found six other individuals that are my friends. I actually enjoy making money with my friends more than with strangers, although working with strangers you get the work done quicker.
“I do recognize that no one can make it out here in this world alone. The DNA of D.R.E.S. tha BEATnik is comprised of a number of different sources. First and foremost, my uncle Darrell. He gave me the gift of music. He’s the baby of that generation of my family, we used to break into his room all the time when I was younger. I think I scratched more records of his than he cares to count. When it came to music in our family, he was the guy. He still is. He helped me learn an appreciation of music in all forms. He just loved music.
“My uncle Darrell introduced me to Earth, Wind and Fire. I used to think they had the coolest record covers ever. I was just always blown away by the artwork and everything. One day, when I was about four or five, he came home and caught me in his room messing with his records, he was, you know, like, “Get out my room!” Complaining to my grandma. My mom was like, “Let that boy in the room.” He had seen me messing with them, and he was like, “Oh you like that, huh?” I said it was pretty so he put the record on. The first Earth, Wind and Fire song I ever heard was “Fantasy”. It pretty much changed everything.
“My mom and dad gave me the gift of voice. My mom and my dad, they sung. Not professionally but they sung. My dad was a pretty good dancer. That’s how he got my mom. They were high school sweethearts. They got married when I was three, got divorced when I was five. My dad passed away when I was 27. That’s the one gift I got from both of them.
“Aaron “SpivRock” Spivey, he gave me the gift of emceeing. He taught me how to count bars, how to construct cadence. He taught me how to talk to a room and not be afraid of people.
“Russel Simmons, he gave me the gift of hustle. I used to be a dancer for Def Comedy Jam. I met him and he gave me a pretty good life lesson on hustle. “Nothing is promised to you. Think six months ahead of yourself. Take care of the people that take care of you. If somebody will do it for a thousand dollars, they’ll do it for one dollar. Find a good compromise. If you don’t love it, quit”
“My daughter, Ashanti, she gave me the gift of love. She told me she wanted to be a video director when she grew up. She was seven. I just thought that was the coolest thing ever. When she told me it blew mind.
“I think I’m good at what I do but I’m still learning. I know I’m not the best that’s ever done it yet. I work hard at it. I believe what I do is good work. There’s a lot more that can be done. There’s a lot more to learn. There’s a lot more frontiers to explore.
“I feel like hip hop is something we can talk about in an intelligent manner, not something that should be viewed as a side show, or something where we only talk about the negative aspects of the culture. I want to be in the position where I can put those stories out and educate and enlighten and entertain. And I think there are people that actually want to learn.
“I think we have ourselves, for the first time in Hip Hop history, a generation gap that’s partially my generation’s fault. Everyone didn’t have an uncle Darrell growing up. Instead of kicking them out of the room say, “Hey, why don’t you come in and listen to this?” As it were, the type of Hip Hop that enlightens certain topics outside of the culture, doesn’t necessarily make it into the national public consciousness. So there’s a lot of things that are left out or kept away.
“It’s more than what’s currently being seen. At this point for Hip Hop, education is its only means of survival. If you’re not willing to educate, you’re going to kill it off quicker than we thought. This was something that wasn’t supposed to last past 1984, but it’s still here. So now that it’s still here, there’s a lot of stories that need to be told. There are plenty of accomplishments.
“From a historical standpoint, when an educational system speaks about African- American history, it starts with slavery, goes until Emancipation, and then it sucked until Martin Luther King, Jr. and then they killed him and then Obama became president. There’s a lot of shit that’s in between that. It’s not all musical, however, there’s a huge part of it that, in terms of black pride and empowerment, financial freedom, education, culture, that’s in there. It gets left out. It’s pretty much taken off the table. I hope that someday I’ll be able to be in the position where I can tell those stories. I might not be able to change the world overnight but I can at least contribute. All the world’s a stage and everyone can contribute a verse, I just want mine to be heard.”
D.R.E.S. tha BEATnik won the Scion Hype Man contest, officially becoming America’s #1 Hype Man and Concert Host.
You can find him on Wednesdays at the World Famous Mic Club at the Royal Peacock in Downtown Atlanta and at other Atlanta hotspots including MJQ Concourse.
Understand why there are so many people backing him by watching his promo reel.