UO PRIDE: TAYLOR BENNETTJune 19, 2017
To celebrate Pride this month, we’re sharing the stories of young creatives showing their pride and proving that love is love. We’ve partnered with GLSEN to introduce an exclusive collection of graphic tees and hats, with all profits donated to GLSEN in support of LGBTQ youth. Read more about #UOPride here.
On the set of his latest music video, we caught up with Chicago hip-hop artist Taylor Bennett to talk about his latest mixtape, his nonprofit work, and the importance of loving yourself.
Photos by Lyndon French
What’s the first song you can ever remember creating?
The first song I can remember creating is “Dear Daddy”. I made it when I was 13 at YOUmedia downtown. YOUmedia is located in the Harold Washington library, they offer creative resources so kids aren’t on the street and are productive. I made it towards my dad when he was in D.C. It’s still one of my favorites till this day.
How did growing up in Chicago shape you personally and artistically?
Growing up in Chicago made me the person that I am today. If I grew up in another city I wouldn’t be the same way. The streets, the culture, the food, the ideas, the lack of diversity in certain areas, the struggle to be immersed, all of those things have shaped me as a person, shaped me as a musician. I couldn’t imagine being from anywhere else.
How do you work through any creative blocks you encounter while making your music?
When I get writers block, I just keep going. I think the best thing you can do as an artist and a person is to just never give up.
Your latest mixtape sports a ton of great big-name features and collaborations. How did the mixtape come together?
I reached out to my best friends and some notable artist like Lil Yachty, Kyle, Raury, my brother Chance The Rapper, Jeremih, Mike Will Made It, and a couple others who are pretty big artists, and by God’s will, they were willing to work. They liked the music, and we really got into it. This is my best work yet. If you want to know who Taylor Bennett is, Restoration Of An American Idol is the best way to find out.
The mixtape showcases your music heading in a more refined direction. Where there any new musical ideas you were most excited about trying out/experimenting with?
Yeah! I really like to sing. I haven’t felt as comfortable as singing as I did in “Dancing In The Rain,” but I really like the high pitched singing. I think this is the first project I’ve felt comfortable enough to do that and it worked out pretty well. A lot of my fans liked it! I think a lot of new listeners were persuaded to check out who I was based off of it. I think that’s one of the better new musical ideas I explored.
How has your musical taste evolved over time? Do you feel like that’s impacted your own style?
I listen to a wider variety of music now. My music and musical tastes have shifted. I’ve gone from liking mainstream music to more conscious rap like J. Cole and Kendrick, and I think they both have big influences on my music today. What I try to do is keep my music level-headed to relate to everybody. I try not to be too wordy or too street smart or even book smart, but to try to be a mixture of all the in-between to try to reach out to as many people as possible.
Who do you make music for?
I make music not just for my fans, but for all people. My dream is to do the biggest show I possibly can, and at one point, ask everyone to look to their left and their right and have them realise that they are around straight, gay, black, white, rich and poor people, and see that they’re all together and we are all equal. I want to have everybody realise the power of music and how it brings people together from different backgrounds to show how we can all share interest.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on new material, more music videos, hoping to grow more with the Urban Outfitters family. I’m constantly trying to raise awareness and put my efforts into fighting against the homeless youth crisis, always looking to put my best foot forward and preparing for what’s to come.
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