“I’m very good at getting people’s attention,” admits Houston, Texas rapper/producer Beatking.
Throughout the 2010s, the relentless DIY artist achieved viral success and regional recognition with topical freestyles and captivating music videos. However, in mid-2020, “The Club God” has eclipsed all of that groundwork with smash single “Then Leave.” The Columbia Records-backed song boasts more than 10 million Spotify streams as it approaches eight figures on YouTube. Drake, Cardi B, and Offset are among supporters of the catchy Queendome Come collaboration about hit-and-run dealings in the bedroom. After 15 years of paying dues, Beatking finally holds court. His major-label debut, Y’all Late, promises to let everybody know exactly what time it is.
From Houston’s Northside, Justin Riley was profoundly influenced by Memphis’ Three 6 Mafia as well as Miami’s Uncle Luke. These distinct styles molded his rap dreams that date back to age 10. From the onset, he had things to say in his lyrics. “I was around people selling dope and hittin’ licks, but I didn’t do any of that; I’ve always been lame,” he shares with a laugh, adding that he abstains from drugs and alcohol, and has no tattoos. Instead, music is his addiction. During adolescence, the rapper known as PG-13 The Beatking taught himself to make beats using his mother’s keyboard. He soon began hustling homemade tracks for cash. “I dropped out of school, twice, because I knew I wanted to be who I am now,” says an artist living the dream.
By 2010, Beatking had further cultivated a career. “Every year, I’d drop a new song that would be bigger than the last,” he shares. Songs like “Crush” and “Throw Dat Ahh” were streaming in the seven figures, while freestyles about current events continued to bring new fans into the party. “I was just happy to be paying my bills off rap music.” Apart from a sprawling catalog and constant concerts, he produced songs for Danny Brown, RiFF RaFF, and released two albums with Three 6 affiliate Gangsta Boo. However, despite his club anthems, Beatking was rarely recognized. “My music was worldwide at the time, but people never knew it was my song.”
In late 2017, Beatking confronted this problem. His “Scream” music video featured dancers attempting to swallow various items from the grocery store produce aisle. The visual prompted “the cucumber challenge” on social media. These antics eventually brought Beatking to the attention of The Breakfast Club and DJ Akademiks. “I’m very calculated,” he says. Bright green hair, funny custom t-shirts, and clever emojis gave way to a second act in Beatking’s career.
2020’s “Then Leave” further cement Beatking’s Club God status. On social media, Cardi B and Offset danced to the thumping battle of the sexes, while Drake personally DM’d Beatking his support of the song. Newly signed to Columbia, the fresh deal marks an affirmation for an artist who has historically done it all by himself. “I lost 30 pounds and grew my hair out; I’m a whole different artist to the people who first met me in 2010.” A recent South Park-inspired music video shows Beatking’s quirky brand of raunchy humor, as it soars to 10 million views and beyond. “Then Leave” joins all-new music appearing on the Y’all Late EP, which marks the artist’s most significant project to date. Now a father of two, the ever-persistent Beatking is proud to be at the highest stage of his career, even after many years of putting in work. “I think it happened this way for a reason,” he says. “Then Leave” reintroduces an artist who’s here to stay.