Give Them Their Flowers: Beano French on Musiq Soulchild, 90s R&B, and the wide reach of Philly talent - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Last year for Black History Month I created a series called Give Them Their Flowerswhere I asked hometown heroes of different genres and artistic practices to The Local Show to reflect on their musical influences, as well as the influences Philly has had on Black music. We brought the series back to not only ask different artists in the city about their influences but also ask about Black-owned businesses in Philly that they love to support or have supported them.

We started it off with West Philly’s own Beano French who talked about how hearing a Philly great, Musiq Soulchild’s “Just Friends,” on BET inspired him to getting into singing, how the purity of 90s R&B music influences the music he makes, and the prideful feeling he has knowing how many musicians from his city play a big part in the today’s music. 

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…on his earliest memories of music.

“I remember getting out of grade school, going to my grandma’s house, doing homework…and after we finished our homework she always let us watch TV, and I turned on BET. And I remember all I heard was [melodic beatboxing from ‘Just Friends (Sunny).’] And then I saw Broad Street, and I was like wait, that’s here! What is this? And I saw Musiq Soulchild, and I got obsessed. My dad was a musician, and he was like ‘Oh yeah, I know Musiq, I played on all the demos for the first album.’ I was like ‘wait, WHAT?!’ I was obsessed with Musiq Soulchild, and that was my first time when I was like ‘I wanna do that.’ Musiq Soulchild was one of the people that made me feel like I could really do it.”

…on the impact of 90s R&B in Philly and beyond.

I think it was the purest form of R&B back in the 90s. In the 80s…well, it was the 80s. It was R&B, but in the 90s we got introduced to the hip-hop and R&B. You started hearing the bass in the records, more bounce to ‘em. And the amount of artists…everybody was amazing in the 90s. And it was a lot cooler. I think we got to a point now, where we’re back there, which I love. But we hit a point with R&B that it never stopped being about love, but the music that made you feel things stopped being pushed to the forefront. The music never stopped being made, it just wasn’t what was cool. But the 90s era was amazing, and we gravitate towards it because it’s who we are as people. We’ll always say the 90s is the best era because that’s our era, some of our fondest memories come from that music.”

…on what he takes the most pride in from Philly’s music scene.

“How much it’s undeniable how much we impact the music world in general. Not even just R&B and hip-hop, even down to the fact that the biggest MDs in the game right now are from the city. It goes from not only our contributions from production and writers and artists and even the background singers, but our musicians are everywhere. Larry Lambert is MDing for Ella Mai and Summer Walker at the same time. My guy Man Man he’s the MD for Wiz Khalifa, John Legend, Saweetie, and Lil Durk, all right now. My guys Tre and Craig are drummer and guitar players for Lil Durk. Eric Watley, my bass player, is on tour right now with John Legend. Natalie Imani is background singing for John Legend. It’s so heavy. I love to see Philly winning — it means a lot to me, I love Philly through and through.”

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