Speaking purpose into artists’ lives

Beleshia McCulley, aka Lyrical, founded and runs Lyrical Eyes Management and the 323 Music Group. Credit: ThoughtPoet

Behind a great artist, there’s often a great manager. The average fan likely never thinks about the people who manage their favorite musicians, but they’re the ones typically handling the behind-the-scenes work on the business side of the entertainment industry. Whether they’re booking performances, negotiating contracts, or just acting as voices of reason for the artists they represent, managers are unsung heroes. In Chicago, one of these unsung heroes is Beleshia McCulley, also known as Lyrical, founder of Lyrical Eyes Management and the 323 Music Group label.

Lyrical initially stepped into Chicago’s creative community as a singer, vocal coach, and poet before switching lanes. So while she’s only been taking on clients with Lyrical Eyes since 2012 and running her label since 2015, she’s been deeply rooted in the Chicago music scene for more than 16 years. Among the artists she’s helped bolster—whether by managing them, signing them to 323 Music Group, or simply advocating for them—are Lil Durk, Ravyn Lenae, and Chief Keef.

“I’ve always had a way with words, so that’s how I got into poetry and singing. When my daughter decided she wanted to be a music artist, I felt like I couldn’t allow somebody else to come in and manage her,” Lyrical says. “Knowing what I was good at, which was words, singing, and having been an artist myself, I wanted to protect her and surround her with the right people. So that’s how managing really started for me.”

Artist management is not a task for the weak. The entertainment industry is notoriously ruthless. Many people in the field will take advantage of colleagues who aren’t sufficiently careful, stealing credit from them or worse—and the situation is even tougher for a woman in a male-dominated industry. Lyrical says lots of people are just overall difficult to work with, and she’s been pushed out of projects she worked hard at building. It didn’t take her long to realize that the game can be dirty. She tried to make her start in the business while working for others, but the main thing she got out of that experience was a chip on her shoulder. Soon she decided to start her own management company and indie label.

“A lot of people come in with the purpose of getting to the bag, but I realized my purpose has nothing to do with getting the bag,” says Lyrical. “My purpose is to help people get closer to their goals.” Credit: ThoughtPoet

“You have to build your own team. A lot of people come in with the purpose of getting to the bag, but I realized my purpose has nothing to do with getting the bag. My purpose is to help people get closer to their goals,” she says. “That put me into a different perspective, to understanding that I was the bag, and [I] pushed myself. I feel like Briahna [Gatlin] of Swank Publishing and I are the women that’s really behind Chicago music, and we’ve done a lot of things [where] we still don’t get the recognition that we deserve.”

Lyrical has made a name for herself in the industry, but she’s never let her career define her. During our conversation, she emphasizes that she’s first and foremost a woman of God and a mother. She approaches life and relationships with an elegant grace, driven by the dedication to do right by people and help them reach their full potential. Whatever you might’ve been through, she’s probably experienced it herself and can help walk you through it.

“I believe in speaking purpose into people’s life. I believe in introducing them to God, who’s saved my life. I try to stop people from doing shit before they do it, because I know what it looks like,” Lyrical says. “I am just an advocate for preaching to people that what’s for you is for you, and if you choose to give up today, you don’t know what was coming next week. So I think when it comes to my community, I’m keeping myself up by just being able to give other people purpose.”


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