Taylor Bennett Reflects on His Gothic Phase, Teams With Footaction for New Lookbook
Chicago hip-hop artist Taylor Bennett is having a magnificent year so far and it's looking to only get bigger and better in the months ahead. The rapper recently teamed up with Footaction for a new lookbook to showcase the brand's newest gear.
Taylor has been making headlines since the start of the year with a major announcement of his own, followed by the release of his most acclaimed project to date, creating an even bigger buzz for himself.
Known to many hip-hop fans as Chance The Rapper's little brother, Taylor has managed to successfully build a career of his own in the rap game. Releasing his first mixtape, The Taylor Bennett Show, in 2013, he's gone on to release several other projects, including an EP and his debut album, Broad Shoulders, in a span of three years. His most recent project, Restoration of an American Idol, released in February, has already become Taylor's most critically acclaimed project to date, with more than five million plays on SoundCloud in less than three months.
Earlier this year, Taylor also took a major step in his personal life and career when, on the day of his 21st birthday (Jan. 18), the rhymer revealed that he's bisexual. He announced the big news on Twitter, sharing his story as a way to help others struggling with their identity.
Now, freshly off his first headlining tour, Taylor looks to continue his momentum this year with a few more ventures and a new album. While in New York shooting the Footaction lookbook, XXL caught with Taylor Bennett to discuss a number of things including his latest project and his brother Chance. Check out the interview below.
XXL: How did you end up linking with Footaction for the lookbook?
Taylor Bennett: Man, I think my manager Joseph got hit up by Alex from Footaction. It was a dope opportunity for me. You know, I had told one of my boys that I wanted to start getting into modeling and he said, "Yo, let's do that shit!" and we started hitting up people. When we got hit up by Alex and we were like, "Fuck, yeah! Let's do it," and we ended up doing it. It was really cool. The vibe was great.
And what was so dope was that Footaction is family versus a business savvy brand that would be like, "Do this and do that." It wasn't really about the clothes or the money with this. It was more about the love of modeling and the idea of the cool experience that it would be, you know what I'm saying? It felt like I wasn't doing a job, so, it was great.
Did you pick out the clothing styles for the lookbook shoot?
Yeah, I picked out all of these styles.
Describe your personal style.
I'm a very colorful guy. I would say I'm very popping. You'll see me wear pink shoes with a green shirt, so, I try not to match too much with my outfits. I try not to be too sharp. I just try to do my own thing and just be comfortable. In my opinion, being comfortable is always the option. That's how you got to be.
Not sure if this is true or not, but I heard growing up you used to dress gothic? Is it true?
Yeah, man! [Laughs]. I had a whole scene phase. Back then, I was listening to The Smiths and Queen and Never Shout Never—alternative joints like that. So, I basically used to shop at Hot Topic. I had the 510 all-black skinny jeans. I used to wear the mascara. A lot of ripped up shirts and distressed jeans and shit. I used to wear a black pair of Converse all the time. It was definitely a session in life I went through. I think it also helped me musically as well.
In late February, you released your project Restoration of an American Idol, which received plenty of praise from music critics and fans. What's the difference between this release and your 2015 album, Broad Shoulders?
It’s been way crazier than my last project. I think every show on the tour was almost sold out in my first headlining tour. To have fans screaming the lyrics so loud that it’s hard for you to perform for all of the new songs that recently came out was insane. I've just been blessed and very fortunate to be in the situation that I am.
How different was your approach to this project?
I think on this project I spoke more from myself than Broad Shoulders, which is more about different perspectives. This is way more me. That’s the difference for me. But it’s always a new experience with each project so that’s why it takes me so long to drop albums. Like Broad Shoulders took me a year to drop. This project took me a year to drop because you have to have growing experiences to make you better as a writer.
There’s no way that anyone wants to hear the same Taylor Bennett music. The fans want to hear about what’s going on and what’s new and I try to show that all the time.
Would you and your brother Chance The Rapper ever work on a collab project?
Yeah, we’ve spoken about it. I mean me and Chance have so many songs that are unreleased, it’s actually very funny. So, yeah, we’ve talked about it before. We’re definitely going to work on something, but I think both of us are more focused on dropping our own music and you know constantly moving up the line.
What's the best advice you've gotten from Chance?
Chance has said a lot of different shit to me. One thing he said is compete with yourself. No one else will outwork you, but you. You know, you can’t compare yourself to anyone else. You have to be yourself. The thing that really makes you unique is that there is no one else like you and that’s something that I learned for sure. You know, you got to push yourself. You have to work hard. You have to stay in the studio late nights.
It’s not all about the glowing up and the partying. I think that’s where a lot of artists lose themselves. When you have all this acclaim going on, the only way to keep it going, all the money, all the fame, is by doing it again and it doesn’t slow down. It only goes faster.
What else can Taylor Bennett fans expect from you in 2017?
There’s a new album coming. I’m working on it already, but it doesn't have a title yet. Going to keep touring as well and just keep the momentum, so, be prepared. A lot of big things on the way.
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