Long live King Beanz

King Beanz, a.k.a. Anthony Howard Jr., stands with his dad, Anthony Howard Sr.

The second annual 716 Music Awards ceremony, scheduled for July 15 at Seneca Niagara Casino, will feature a notable entry from the Lock City.

King Beanz, a.k.a. Anthony Howard Jr., was high up on the list of candidates to be considered by the 716 Music Awards Academy, a group of 15 anonymous Western New York tastemakers. When the smoke cleared, the about-to-graduate Lockport High School rapper had accrued enough votes from his fan base to raise the eyebrows of the academy founders and judges.

Howard, 18, is nominated in seven of 19 categories including Album of the Year (for “Birth of a King”), Male Artist of the Year, Video of the Year, Best Battle Rapper of the Year, Best Collaboration of the Year (with Doughfrm CYB on PTSD), Best Dance Song of the Year and Best Track of the Year.

716 Music Awards Academy was founded by Demeca Evans, Abby Baez and Ra Maat to highlight the great amount of talent within the 716 area code.

Describing the academy’s program as BET Awards for Buffalo, Evans said it’s growing in its second year and new categories will likely be added.

“It’s a whole new bunch of people and we love it,” Baez said. “We knew what we’re doing, but not really. … I love it.”

Evans noted that 400 people attended the first year’s ceremony, there was no security, and there also was “not one altercation.”

“That shows that you can put a great event together. Depending on how you make the vibe in there, everybody will feel that vibration,” she said. “It was a great networking event with people making collaborations together and connecting. That’s the way this year will be.”

Howard has been making music since he was 3 years old and “free styling.”

“My dad taught me to rap and ever since that I was able to free style,” he said. “I was barely able to speak a sentence, but all I knew was music. … It was kind of a best friend.”

Howard isn’t planning to go to college after graduation, but said all his teachers love him. Instead he intends to get a job at GM where his dad, Anthony Howard Sr., also works. To him, the future is about working hard and having fun, as well as making his “mark” on the world and creating more songs.

He’ll be using the same producer and the same equipment his dad stocked to record artists on Howard Sr.’s label “Team Made Men,” while setting up his own label, “No Members.”

“He was a baby in the studio at (producer) Rob’s with me while I was recording my album, so now it’s come full circle,” Howard Sr. said. “Every time Rob sees Beanz he’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, I remember when you was a baby!’ and now he’s producing his albums.”

As a music fan, Howard Jr. said he’s into “everything.”

“Growing up I was always into drill wave. Chicago drill I was really into. New York style. Drill like hip hop, gangsta music,” he said. “When I was really little I would just be listening to their energy and the way they used words and the way they grew up interested me.”

Asked to cite his saddest “bar” or lyric, Howard pulled out a line from “Wild Lifestyle”: “The lonely nights, I’m used to it / You switching sides, I’m used to it / Not gonna lie, I’m kind of hurt, ‘cause now I’m used to uselessness.”

Thus far, King Beanz’s Life of the Party has been streamed more than 100,000 times. Howard said local artists aren’t really in contest with one another, but there is a sense of “earning your place,” where people start taking you seriously based on your popularity.

“I always used to go to underground music and I’d be like, ‘Wow, 20KB was like popping,’ and they’re telling me now they had 50K views,” he said. “Now that I’m matching that, I do feel connected to that community. It’s not even a competition. Everybody has their own opinions on how their music is and how their fan base is, so it’s not even a competition, even if you wanted to make a competition.”

More information about the 716 Music Awards can be found at https://www.716musicawards.com/.

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