Earlier this year in Atlanta, a city already teeming with musical talent, a group of young artists discreetly set up shop to produce a record that would shine a light on the promising South Florida rapper Beam.
The result of that collaboration was shared October 18 in the form of 95, Beam's debut EP. The 24-year-old artist — real name Tyshane Thompson — was born in St. Andrew, Jamaica, just outside Kingston. Thompson grew up in Broward County and absorbed a heavy dose of musical influence from his father, the Jamaican recording artist Papa San. By the time he moved with his family to Weston at the age of 8, Thompson had begun synthesizing his father's reggae and gospel music with his own interest in South Florida's fast-paced, underground jook music, as well as Atlanta's dirty South rap, EDM, and reggaeton. By the time he was 10, Thompson had begun producing tracks for his dad and himself.
“I got into production heavy," Thompson says before sharing the origins of his artist moniker. "I was trying to create all those sounds at one time. That’s why my name is 'Be Everything And More.'”
Although he continued to produce songs throughout his teens, he claims his proper metamorphosis into Beam didn’t take place until he was 20. According to Thompson, what seemed to be an existential crisis at a music retreat in Las Vegas was actually an epiphany that empowered him to meld his experience of producing with his aim of finding success as an atypical artist.
"That whole event changed my life," he says. "I went from Tyshane to Beam. Ever since then, everything’s been rolling.”
In the four years following his crisis of faith, Thompson has racked up producer credits on songs by 21 Savage, Lecrae, Andy Mineo, Skip Marley, and 2 Chainz. His budding career has also been punctuated by sporadic singles, tracing his artistic growth and efforts to elevate his sound. One release,“Cactus,” sits at nearly 150,000 plays on SoundCloud.
Thompson eventually secured a recording contract with Epic Records, a development that helped propel the creation of 95. Citing the likes of Kanye West, Drake, and Cypress Hill as inspirations, the artist says the EP sonically resembles dancehall, trap, and, most crucial, '90s rap.
“This whole project gives a taste of everything I do," says Thompson, noting he focused the project through the prism of the '90s and pondering how his favorite artists would have behaved creatively both then and now. "I thought, What would Cypress Hill be in 2019? What would Sean Paul do today? I wanted to take those influences and put it in the beats, the writing, and the sound of my voice.”
Drawing from the Rolodex of producers and songwriters he’s previously worked with, Thompson leaned on the Grammy-winning producer Ronald LaTour, otherwise known as rapper and producer Cardo Got Wings, to co-executive produce the EP. Thompson and LaTour's in-house recording camp was joined by Florida producer Al Cres, songwriter Jordan Douglas, and producer Blake Jakob.
Within a week, they had a completed project.
“They were making beats upstairs, and I was recording downstairs," Thompson says. "It was a crazy in-house vibe. You can’t do it without a team.”
Nineties-inspired visuals have accompanied the record's release to accentuate the nostalgic theme of 95. The Instagram account for Beam contains VHS-style snippets, vintage recordings of Florida dancers, snapshots of a bygone TV era, and glimpses of dancehall gatherings. The aesthetic is emblematic of Thompson's home and his risk-taking.
“Florida is multicultural — you have everything there," he says, adding that because he often wants to tackle all styles of music, he opts to blend them.
Thompson's creative pendulum may be constantly swinging, but his father’s influence keeps him grounded. He says he relies on his spiritual upbringing to help him navigate the demands of the music industry and his life.
“Growing up in the church, I learned a lot spiritually," Thompson says. "All of my songs have meaning. I’ve always believed in God, and that’s never going to change."
Thompson has set the groundwork for an impressive discography in the years to come. With co-signs from established rap and reggae artists, he’s tapped into a distinct style that’s already finding an audience: As of this writing, the 95 track "Unda Armor" has amassed nearly 19,000 plays on SoundCloud and almost 200,000 streams on Spotify.
“I want to be the type of legend that’s on the list of greatest of all time," Thompson says. "I’m doing this for my country [Jamaica]. I want people to say they believe in themselves because he did."
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.