Cole Bennett Excels in Capturing a New Generation of Internet Rap Stars
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of of XXL Magazine, on stands now.
Title: Music video director and founder of Lyrical Lemonade
Cole Bennett is the Spielberg of SoundCloud rap. In just four years, the 21-year-old video
director worked hard to make a name for himself by crafting spellbinding music videos for the likes of Lil Pump and Migos, catching everyone’s eye with his run-and-gun style of shooting and distinctive, trippy post-production.
Raised in Plano, Ill., Bennett first picked up a camera while taking a high school multimedia class, recording makeshift music videos with his friends. Once he enrolled in Chicago’s DePaul University in 2014, the hypnotic filmmaker dove headfirst into the local hip-hop scene, creating the music promotion and event coordination company Lyrical Lemonade to document the city’s rising stars via interviews and show bookings. His zany videos were most impactful, helping him become one of rap’s most in-demand videographers. With his mind set on expanding into documentaries or short movies, Bennett sat down with XXL to discuss his part in capturing a new generation of internet stars.
On What Makes For A Good Music Video
“One of the most important things in a good music video is colors—having the perfect palate. Colors portray moods and the general aesthetic of a song. If it’s a fun song but laid-back, I like to bring out blues and greens, to have a vintage touch like Napoleon Dynamite. For something that’s super fun but distorted, you might think of the 1970s: bright colors with weird twists, or the 1990s or early 2000s, [with] silver, black or lime green, when aliens were big. The color process is important—it can be something as simple as the intro text—but it’s easy to mess it up.”
On The Importance Of Creative Freedom
“SoundCloud rap is underappreciated. What’s going on right now is a renaissance. The videos are putting up mainstream numbers—25 million to 100 million views—and there’s not a manager’s assistant who I’m talking to through a video [call] with however big of a budget and this whole marketing plan. It’s super organic and genuine. I did my first video with Smokepurpp at his mom’s house in Miami—him and Lil Pump with ARs and AK-47s and shit. They were just teenage kids messing around. I had no name for myself. Working with these people is fun because I’m able to have creative freedom; we’ve built this trust and friendship.”
On Having A Do-It-Yourself Attitude
“Being self-driven and independent in the sense of creativity is important because when you do everything yourself, you feel everything that happens. You take all of the losses [and] all of the wins so you get to know yourself. When you’re ready to quit, you can quit. When you’re ready to make it happen, you make it happen. It’s all you. And, it’s important because you gotta learn if this is what you love.”
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