Cole Bennett (pictured above) has taken the rap world by storm with his company Lyrical Lemonade.
Chances are you've probably seen his work. (@_colebennett_ Image via Instagram)

Cole Bennett Is the Hip-Hop Video Director That Can Jump-Start Careers

The Chicago-based music video director and his homemade, low-budget aesthetic is in high-demand among SoundCloud rappers.
April 10, 2020
9 mins read

Cole Bennett is the mastermind behind Lyrical Lemonade, a multimedia brand. He has made a name for himself as a music video director and has expanded his company, creating a music festival, clothes and even actual lemonade. The Lyrical Lemonade YouTube channel has over 13 million subscribers and almost 5 billion total video views.  If you listen to rap music, you have most likely heard Cole Bennett’s work whether you remember it or not and he is now young hip hop’s favorite director.

Who is Cole Bennett?

Bennett started Lyrical Lemonade as an underground music blog in high school back in 2013. Bennett, now 23 years old, originally hails from a Chicago suburb and attended DePaul University where he studied digital cinema before dropping out. While the blog’s purpose was to promote and connect with Chicago area rappers, it eventually evolved into something greater. After his blog began gaining traction in the area, Cole began shooting low-budget music videos for local small artists as well as uploading live show recaps, cyphers, documents and interviews to the Lyrical Lemonade YouTube page. His early breakthrough is credited to his work with Soulja Boy and Famous Dex back in 2016.

Since then he has expanded the geographic scope of artists he works with beyond Chicago and has now found himself creating videos for what seems to be every new rapper on the rise. Bennett has climbed the professional ladder to bigger projects with bigger names. Most recently he directed Lil Mosey’s “Blueberry Faygo,” a song Genius calls the frontrunner for song of the summer. While he has stayed within the scope of directing for SoundCloud rappers, he has also worked with mainstream rappers such as Eminem, Wiz Khalifa and Kanye West.

What Makes Bennett Different?

Bennett’s videos are known for being littered with trippy cartoon animations and popping visual effects. In his earlier days, Bennett focused on the quality of his visuals in order to compensate for tight budgets, which only allowed for minimal locations and storylines. When he first started gaining traction in the music scene in 2017, these effects made him stand out from the rest of the crowd. It made him different and preferred to other directors. Even now that Bennett has begun working with bigger artists and larger budgets, he has still not strayed too far from his playful animations, thus solidifying his signature style —  a style that was originally borne of necessity, a product of Bennett trying to distract viewers from the simple setting of his videos.

The Cole Bennett Effect

Not many directors today share the reach and influence that Cole Bennett holds. Sometimes a Bennett-directed video can even give new rappers a leg up in popularity.  During a video interview with The New York Times about Lil Tecca’s “Ransom,” interviewer Joe Coscarelli asked him, “When did it become a thing that every up and coming SoundCloud rapper needed a Cole Bennett video to help them take off?” To which Bennett admitted that many artists see him as the one-way ticket to stardom and that he gets constant requests from artists requesting a video in the hopes of becoming viral.

Genius data shows that prior to the release of Lil Xan’s Bennett-directed music video for “Betrayed,” the rapper averaged around 227 daily Genius page views. Following the release of the video, Xan’s daily page views rose to 9,426. And this isn’t a unique case. This trend is also evident in the page views for other rappers like Lil Tecca, Juice WRLD and Lil Skies. Bennett first collaborated with Juice WRLD in 2017 to create their video for “Lucid Dreams.” This video has now become Bennett and Juice WRLD’s most viewed with a current 477 million views. The success of the song and video subsequently helped lead to a $3 million record deal between Juice and Interscope records. It has now become undeniable that not only can Cole Bennett direct some of the best videos in hip-hop, but that his name can give a song the boost it needs.

The “Cole Bennett effect,” as it’s often been dubbed, roots from two things. One is the undeniable talent that the director has. Cole’s videos are unique and visually enjoyable. A great video can make any song seem more aurally-pleasing. If a video is good enough to watch a couple times over, even if it is paired with a mediocre song, by the fourth viewing you might even start liking the song itself.

The second and perhaps most important reason is that attaching Bennett’s name to a project serves as its own form of publicity. Bennett has become more than just a producer, but a personality himself. It is rare that a director behind a lens can become a prominent figure like this, but that’s exactly what Bennett has become. Perhaps what bolsters this reputation is the fact that all the videos he directs are posted on the Lyrical Lemonade YouTube page instead of the artist’s own page. Generally, music videos on YouTube are uploaded to the artist’s page with the director merely receiving credit; Lyrical Lemonade having its own page creates a place where all of Bennett’s work can be collected, while also solidifying him as a personality rather than just someone behind a lens.

Lyrical Lemonade has now grown a reputation for itself that not only promises amazing visuals, but music that is just as great. It’s almost as if having a Bennett-directed music video acts as a co-sign of a musical artist’s quality.

The Future of Lyrical Lemonade

Bennett has built Lyrical Lemonade to be more than just him directing music videos. One of his biggest business projects involved the creation of his very own music festival, Summer Smash. The inaugural day in the summer of 2018 in Chicago drew 11,000 attendees, 20,000 in 2019 and is expected to become a three-day weekend festival for 2020. Bennett remains loyal to his Chicago roots. The Lyrical Lemonade offices are headquartered in the Illinois city and he has committed his festival to remaining a community event with no intentions for a change of city anytime soon.

It seems as if Bennett rose to fame overnight, similar to how his videos seem to be boosting others in the same way. However, he has been creating content for Lyrical Lemonade for seven years now and it only took a couple big hits in 2016 and 2017 to propel him to the celebrity status he now has. His 2020 is off to a great start with the release of new videos featuring Eminem, Lil Mosey and up-and-coming rapper Jack Harlow. Lyrical Lemonade also announced its brand partnership with the sneaker brand Jordans.

No matter what 2020 has in store for Bennett and his Lyrical Lemonade brand it seems his success is simply guaranteed at this point and he can only go up from here.

Nayeli G. Pena, Colorado College

Writer Profile

Nayeli G. Peña

Colorado College
Business, Economics

Hi, I’m Nayeli. I love learning languages, traveling, cooking and finding cool new artists. I consume unhealthy amounts of chai, avocado and boba, and I’m obsessed with aesthetics, hence, my Instagram.

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