Rarely do we get things right the first time. We are not perfect people. We make mistakes and then can only hope that we will get a second chance. For Arkansas rapper and lyricist, Hunter Beard, a second chance came in the form of a handheld cassette voice recorder and a nosey prison guard.
Riding out the latter part of a drug-related sentence, Beard, who now resides in Hermosa Beach, took to avidly writing and recording raps about his past and the feelings he had with being locked up for nearly seven years, starting at the age of 18. As Beard’s verses spilled from his small prison cell, one of the guards, intrigued by Beard’s knack for storytelling, approached him, asking if she could listen to the tape. She claimed to have direct connections to some bigwig promoter for Flipside Entertainment, and could probably get him to listen to Beard’s choppy tape.
“She told me she was going to pass it to Don Coleman of Flipside and I didn’t believe it. Who would?” Beard told Easy Reader in a recent interview. “Then the following month she asked if I was going to be out in a few weeks. Coleman needed someone to open for Chris Brown at a show that Flipside was putting on.”
Beard’s sentence carried past the date of the show, but the prospect for opportunity resonated with his dreams for a clean future. You may not be able to go back and start a new beginning, but you sure can start today and make a new ending. Beard, who is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, has since found himself on a slew of festival stages, performing alongside Brooke Hogan and southern rap heavyweight, Paul Wall, and selling out shows at the otherwise rock-oriented Viper Room in Hollywood.
“I have been in Los Angeles for four years now, and over the years I’ve somehow gone from having to pretty much beg people to come to our shows, to selling out shows at Key Club and other Hollywood spots,” said Beard. “This is really the first time that this has happened since I’ve been out here.”
As an independent artist, Beard has undoubtedly faced the hardships of burgeoning into the rap world, but his narrative style lyricism and underlying rock sound on his most recent album, Solar Bipolar, has helped to differentiate him from the overwhelmingly large amount of talent in Los Angeles. Beard’s sets promise an energized stage show, with the help from drummer, Greg Ladanyi, guitarist, Tommy Bruno, and fellow rapper Keddy Mac, who more often than not, performs alongside Beard.
“I have found that Los Angeles and the musicians I have met here have definitely influenced my music and the person I am. Over the years I have branched out a lot from just being a rapper. Thanks to the addition of a live backing band instead of a drum machine I am branching out into rock. It’s important that you learn to differentiate yourself from the rest,” said Beard. “Keddy and I perform with a live band, do rock and rap songs, and are totally southern. So we have definitely set ourselves apart. If you are different, it’s easier for people to recognize you.”
Although Beard’s increasing popularity and recognition in the business has supplanted his harsh past, lessons learned continue to permeate his life.
“Every single ounce of my past has influenced the person and lyricist that I am today,” said Beard. “It has had a huge influence on me as a man as well. Every single person I know from back in the old days still has a needle in their arm, or they’re dead, or they’re in prison doing life on the installment plan, and just can’t get out. My past has become like motivation to not fall to that and end up like them.”
For Beard, getting a second chance in life is about giving himself the opportunity to grow beyond his past failures. After spending a third of his life dealing with the repercussions of bad decisions and habits, Beard now plans on finding any way that he can give back and help others that might find themselves in the same position he did, whether it be through his music or otherwise.
“We plan on going to the Phoenix House, which is a drug and alcohol awareness center for kids,” he explained. “I would love to do a workshop where I can share with them my story. Music saved me and got me off dope. I want to give kids the same opportunity to discover something that can maybe save them. It’s important for me to be great in some way, to give back what I took in my past.”
Not only has his music proven a form of therapy for the wounds of his past, but it has become the catalyst for a better life. ER