06 May Guns & Roses
I am so proud to bring you all this interview with Benjamin Starr. I was sold on this young man the moment I heard “Guns & Roses'” his latest album. Speaking with Mr. Benjamin you can tell that he is not your average young man and it comes across in his music. Even when interviewing him, he was still a story teller bringing me into his world. I give you all the story teller. A man who is more than just his music. A man that cares about the world around him and whose music has a message. I give you Benjamin Starr.-Mz. Fierce
Fierce: Who is Benjamin Starr as a man and an artist?
Benjamin: As a man I am a simple guy and I am a down south dude. I like to think that I am well rounded basically from how I grew up you, have certain values. I am a brother and a son I like to be in my zone for the people that I am around. I am an around the way dude as a man; as an artist I like to think I am a MC, a lyricist, a story teller. I like my sound, I like to do what I do, and I am highly influenced by the people I grew up listening to. Artistically I like to think I am unique. My soul is kind of throw back and I put that into what hip hop is today.
Fierce: What were you like as a child growing up?
Benjamin: As a child I was quiet as a kid, intuitive kid. I asked a a lot of questions, I use to read a lot; my mom was a drama major at SC State until she had me and my sister and she didn’t get to finish at the time. She would be at work and my Grandma would be in the back room watching her stories and I would climb the bookshelf and I would throw the books down and I didn’t know what I was reading at the time but I would read them. I wasn’t a mischievous kid. I was cool, real calm didn’t talk a lot real easy going.
Fierce: Listening to your music it seems like you have been here before, you have an old soul, who inspired you as far as music or life in general?
Benjamin: Life. My life in general. My sister plays a big part. Ironically I was raised by all women, my mother, my grandmother, my sister, so the women in my family, besides we have a female dominate family. Those 3 inspire me a lot and seeing what women deal with on a daily basis. It was not always easy for them and I took a lot from them. My mom worked 3 or 4 jobs, she put a lot of the music into me, Whitney Houston, David Ruffin and my sister put me on hip hop, Tupac, Nas, Project Pat and my grandma told me a lot of stories. She would tell me a lot of stories and its crazy, I look at how I put my music together it’s like I took what the 3 put in me and it’s the reason as to who I am artistically now.
Fierce: Do you remember the moment that you fell in love with music?
Benjamin: I think the moment that I really fell in love with music I was young, very young. There was a lot of different music being played in the house. I remember music being powerful when I stole 2 tapes from my mom’s stereo. The 2 tapes I stole was an Eddie Murphy comedy type and I stole Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I listened to the Eddie Murphy tape and it was kind of funny but when I put in the Michael Jackson tape…. I put it in everyday and I still listen to it all the time and I think that was when I fell in love with music.
Fierce: If you had to describe your music in only one word what would it be and why?
Benjamin: I would say it is necessary. I don’t really lie a lot, I don’t lie on my records like that. In artistry you want to embellish things but a lot of the music that I make it comes from my life and how I feel and what I have went through and what I want out of life. I would like to think that what I feel and what I think a lot of people feel the same way. We get a bad rep a lot our generation that we don’t care about anything because we may go out and have drinks and laugh but it has to be a balance and that is necessary.
Fierce: What goes on inside of your head as you are putting a song together?
Benjamin: I like to work off of inspiration. I am always putting music together, thank God I found the producers that I have found that match what I am trying to put together. I found these guys that I have this dope chemistry with. I have these stories that I want to say and I have to think on how I am going to kick this in a funky way. When you get home at night there is always that one thing that has happened to you that you think about at night. Musically if I can capture that in a song and can make you think at the end of the day that really means something to me. That’s what going through my mind when I am writing.
Fierce: Your word play is bananas. Did you have to practice as far as your rhyming or is that something that comes natural?
Benjamin: I think it’s……. I read this quote one time that read “all kids are born artist but you educate the artist out of them” so going back to the environment that there was a lot of music played and I was listening to stories and I am telling stories in my own way. I have always been writing poetic pieces and being from where we are from, you never think that you can be a rapper, and it is a lot of music culture here but it is not a Chicago or a New York. You have all this talent that you are honing and when I realized I loved Hip Hop, I realized that the talent was already there but I just wasn’t doing it in a music form.
Fierce: Now there has been a lot of talk about record labels looking at you, is that something that you can speak on at this moment?
Benjamin: There has been a good amount of interest which is a blessing to me but to me I’m not really… I am not going to say I am not interested, the most important thing to me with my music is my creative control, and this is who I am. It’s like waking up every morning and someone telling you to act a certain way, you can’t be you. It’s humbling to hear people say they love what you do but at the end of the day creative control is very important to me and creating music independently I control that creative control. Especially from where we are from, there is no hardcore hip hop scene. But once you keep pushing you continue to love the struggle. Creative control is important.
Fierce: A lot of people here in South Carolina would say that you are one of the best artist to do it, how would you respond to that?
Benjamin: I mean that is humbling that people feel like that. I respect that. I have a lot of respect for hip hop, I have a lot of respect for why hip hop started and the founding fathers. The fans, I would try not to let them down and try to make music that they can carry with them years and years down the road. I try not to get caught up in what people say because I do not want that to take me out of my element. Words cannot express how much I appreciate it. It’s just fuel to keep getting better, it is real humbling.
Fierce: How do you feel about the music scene here in South Carolina?
Benjamin: I feel like the music scene right now, with a lot of respect to the people that have put in a lot of work in the past, it is at a place that I do not think it has been before with a lot of talent. There is a lot of very talented artist but it is hard because nobody can tell you how to get to the moon till they got to the moon. Not one person has gotten to the moon and with no flag been put on the moon, no one can say this is how I did it. They just got to keep pushing and thinking creative and putting dope teams around them. You can’t get the people to love you if they don’t love your music. I have a real positive outlook on where the scene is right now.
Fierce: With so many talented artist why do you feel that no one has come out of our state as of yet?
Benjamin: It took a while for Motown to hit Detroit and there was a lot of talent there. It’s just going to take time; Hip Hop is a different genre and there has always been a bunch of talent on the music scene that has prospered on different scenes. I think Hip Hop is different because South Carolina is not such an urban place and people have to buy into you and what your music is all about. It cannot be a gimmick. I think that we are on the brink of it.
Fierce: If you are that person that is the first to come out of the state, would you feel obligated to help others get recognized for their talents as well?
Benjamin: Yeah I would. But it goes back to I don’t want to let anyone think that I owe them anything the same way that they do not owe me anything. But if there is talent there you have an obligation there and loving this place and this place being a part of who I am, if you do not shine a light on the place then you are ashamed of who you are. And I am not ashamed of who I am. A lot of guys in my circle now have strong character but if I was to be the person to be in that position, it would be about teaching how to fish instead of giving them a fish.
Fierce: If Benjamin Starr wasn’t an artist, what would you be?
Benjamin: If I wasn’t an artist I would have been a Barack Obama, the community organizer dude out here in the streets talking to the people trying to keep your finger on the pulse of what is going on, trying to help your people. Money is a beautiful thing but life is always better. If I wasn’t making music I would be out there with the people trying to find the solution to our problems.
Fierce: When this is all said and done, what would you like for your legacy to be?
Benjamin: I like for my legacy to be that I was a dope artist, that I’ve always had a lot of respect for the genre. I had a lot of love for the music and a lot of respect for the musicians, for the people that influence me, and I was able to learn from their success and their failures. I would like for people to think that I was a great son to my mother and my father and I was a great father to my kids when I have them and that I cared for my community and that I did the best to make the world a better place.
Follow on twitter @Benny_Starr
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