Janeen Adams, aka Beanz, is a 22-year-old North London girl who’s part of hip hop collective The Funhouse. Alexis Jourrou met her when she invited his crew (Relative London) to spin some tracks on their radio show – here he explains why he believes she’s got what it takes to make her mark in the world of hip hop.
You don’t often come across girls who DJ and produce, especially those into hip hop and house music. Of course, there are successful women out there – for example, Sarah Love is London’s ‘First Lady of hip hop’; she’s internationally renowned and making a big impact in the UK. Then there’s Missy Elliot, who is successful on all levels including producing; but how easily can you name other females on this side of the industry? Even the usually-omniscient Google struggled to find answers.
It can be tough for girls starting out to get the recognition they deserve because hip hop is primarily dominated by guys, which can be an intimidating scene to break into. What hasn’t helped is the rise of the so-called ‘handbag DJs’ who get a lot of attention but can’t actually mix; these are famous-ish ladies posing as DJs who don’t really know much about music or the equipment. They are more for show than sound. So when there is a girl on board the decks with the crew there are often guys who won’t take her seriously or even pay much attention – as if she’s just tagging along.
Beanz, however, is the real deal. She joined the Funhouse in 2009 a er she met Chris P Cuts, one of London’s most active hip hop DJs. He became her mentor and taught her a few things, like how to mix and scratch and blend tracks together smoothly.
At our next Relative event we returned the invitation and asked Beanz if she’d be up for playing a set. As soon as her needle touched the vinyl the room erupted. For her, it’s all about “the melody… warm colours and beats that move you”. She had the whole dancefloor shaking.
We met up a few weeks later and I was keen to get to know more about her. I learned that she grew up in Harrow and got into music at a young age and “loved to sing and play keyboards”, but “was too shy to sing in front of people”. Although she prefers to be behind the scenes, she is by no means hiding. If Beanz isn’t practicing her DJ skills she’s usually producing. She studied a bit of music tech in college and starting using Logic to produce beats on her computer. Now she’s working on perfecting her sound and compositions, which she describes as “liquid jungle” – around 70-82bpm. I get the feeling that her biggest inspiration came from her dad who used to “play bass guitar and listen to tracks on his turntable”. She explains that he got her into all kinds of sounds, “from the Backstreet Boys and Michael Jackson to LL Cool J”. Beanz’s taste now includes just about anything.
I say anything, but I’m still surprised when she mentions that her favourite lyricist is Big L. Although regarded as one of the greats, Big L is also one of the most offensive and misogynistic rappers that ever got shot. “ The graphic imagery and the wordplay are part of the song and I just take it for what it is, a story, it’s all relative to the context,” says Beanz by way of explanation.
I asked Beanz what she does to get by and she told me she has a day job, but as soon as she’s free she’s locked into The Funhouse studio, practicing and recording.
The first thing I noticed when we were in the studio was how completely absorbed she is in the music and how well she knows her way around the technical equipment. It simply didn’t matter that she was a girl in a room full of guys. I ask Beanz if she’s ever come across any negative vibes from anyone over what she’s doing. “I’m not trying to be the next biggest anything or shiz like that,” she says, “I’m really just out to find folks who love music the same way I do”.