This year has been a dynamic year for Benji. as he continues his steady rise from the Pittsburgh rap scene.
From being named one of NPR’s Slingshot 20 Artists to Watch to signing a deal with Since the 80s, to joining EARTHGANG’s Welcome to Mirrorland college town tour, the self-taught musician has learned quite a bit from his varied experiences.
The multi-talented rapper, singer, songwriter and producer finds motivation and inspiration for his sound from an extensive pool of genres and generations of music. Growing up among a family of musicians, Benji.’s motivation to make music began early at home.
“It’s kind of competitive in nature just because it’s around you,” Benji. said. “So you want to elevate and contribute in the best way possible. But it’s also really cool to pool from each other because everyone has their own different approaches and styles.”
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When presented the chance to join his first major tour with recent Grammy-nominated artists Duckwrth, Guapdad 4000 and EARTHGANG, he asked himself one important question: “Why not?”
For Benji., ‘why not?’ is the overarching question propelling him forward along his journey.
“It’s a really cool opportunity to just be like right at the door looking at everything,” Benji. said. “We’ve been able to learn from everyone, every day for a month and a half.”
Ultimately, Benji. believes everything happens for a reason, as he’s learned to trust his gut and stick to his guns.
He’s learned a great deal from being around such talented artists, noting the main difference between the artists he performed with on tour and his own team comes down to years of experience and service in the industry.
His years of experience came to fruition while attending Duquesne University in his hometown. Before eventually dropping out to pursue a full-time career in music, he would sit in the school cafeteria between classes and track practice, learning as much as he could from YouTube about producing and making beats.
“I just kept plugging away and trying and trying, and going and going,” Benji. said. “Then, snap, it’s like 3 o’clock and I got to go to practice.”
He would return to the cafeteria right after track — every day for four years to grow his musical skillset.
Benji. joked about his dedication to music over everything.
“Needless to say I failed class for sure,” Benji. said. “But I learned every valuable thing I need to learn on how to build a structure because I researched all the tools necessary to do it. So educating myself in that regard has helped me get here.”
Though Benji. has always been passionate about music, he does not think his career would have worked out the same way had he tried to pursue music directly out of high school.
Attending college provided him more time to devise a well-calculated plan and think about his options more thoroughly.
“I feel like everyone should at least try to go to school and figure it out to see if they like it or want to do anything,” Benji. said. “College is a great time. I got the full experience, went all four years. I learned everything I needed to learn.”
With a limited number of credits left to secure his degree, Benji. still plans to finish what he started, though it may take a bit longer than expected.
His advice for those aspiring to discover what they’re good at and what they’re passionate about is to try new things, experiment and keep trying.
“There’s a lot of time out there and there’s a whole big world to see,” Benji. said.
As Benji. propels forward with plans to share new music, and enter more tours in 2020, he just wants to introduce himself in the best way possible.
His upcoming project “Smile, You’re Alive!” is expected for release at the start of 2020.
What happens after that is still a mystery, but Benji. foretold the following.
“I think the best is definitely yet to come,” Benji. said.