Music and fashion have always been intimate bedfellows, but neither world has ever heard or seen an artist and presence quite like Don Benjamin.
A notable model whose credits include serving as the face for Guess, Moods of Norway, Tilly's, and Pink Dolphin campaigns and finalist on the 2013 season of America's Next Top Model, he grabs the mic and holds tight on his forthcoming debut album. The rapper ignites slick, smart verses via an impressive flow, relaying personal stories with palpable panache. It’s been resonating too. His track "Across the Sky" [featuring Nikki Flores] saw placements on Big Brother, America's Next Top Model, and various MTV programs. It also landed in the iTunes Overall Top Songs chart, officially announcing his arrival as an artist.
"It's smooth rap," he declares. "I spit bars with an R&B feel. I didn’t want to do something typical. This isn’t your average hip-hop. It’s not about killing people or selling drugs. It’s about girls and relationships. I was always focused on finding love and everything that goes along with that. I’m telling my story honestly.”
His story thus far remains quite remarkable. Born in a rough neighborhood of Chicago's notorious South Side, he and his mother bounced around from Minneapolis to Mississippi and Florida. He finished up high school in Minnesota, and that's also where he truly discovered his passion. Fascinated by everyone from Jay-Z and Nas to LL Cool J, Boyz II Men, and Jagged Edge, he started rapping in between his duties as varsity basketball team captain.
"The first time I recorded a song with some friends, I knew I had to be in music," he explains. "It felt like what I was always meant to do."
In 2005, he moved out to Los Angeles and immersed himself in the scene. Eventually, he'd gain notoriety modeling, but he parlayed his music to the forefront. Musically, he captures a bedroom-ready R&B vibe within the framework of hip-hop. You can hear it within the likes of “Doin’ It Well" and "Hit The Snooze".
Produced by Midi Mafia [50 Cent, Frank Ocean], "Doin it Well" highlights a cool and controlled flow from Don before taking flight on an Elijah Blake hook. Re-imagining LL Cool J's "Doin' It", the song encapsulates a deeper message for the artist as well.
Meanwhile, "Hit The Snooze" [featuring Eric Bellinger] tells a different tale altogether, showcasing his diversity as do many other tracks. He says, "its a fun track talking about not being able to wake for work after a long night of love making ;). the song came about while Don, Eric and producer Soundz were in the studio joking around and came up with the concept last minute.."
In the end, Don gives something much more to listeners everywhere with his candid lyrics and different perspective. "The most important thing is for people to connect with the music and feel it," he concludes. "I want them to see what's happening in my lyrics and relate."