When life gave Cole Bennett lemons, he made everyone thirsty for lemonade … Lyrical Lemonade. Bennett is one of the most important videographers to the trap and rap genre today — a name not to be forgotten.
Despite some bad weather, Bennett orchestrated his second annual music festival, Summer Smash, a few weeks ago at Chicago’s Douglas Park. The show featured big names like Famous Dex, Smokepurpp, Juice WRLD and many, many more. There isn’t a more kairotic time to praise the young, directorial genius and his continuous successes than now.
Never heard of Cole Bennett? It’s time to learn.
The Birth of Lyrical Lemonade
Cole Bennett was born in Plano, Illinois but his work and collaborations began in Chicago. He attended DePaul University in Chicago and studied digital cinema but later created a mold for himself that college could not.
Thus, he created Lyrical Lemonade, the name sweetly suggested by his mom. What started as an underground music blog, exclusively intended for Chicagoans, Lyrical Lemonade has slowly blossomed into a hub for trap/rap enthusiasts.
Being a Chicago native, Bennett was introduced to the Chicago music scene after seeing Chance the Rapper. Since then, he went to as many shows as he could.
The 22-year-old took over the independent Chicago music videography scene, helping him make bigger connections with artists like Quavo and Wiz Khalifa. Lyrical Lemonade is a musical haven for sharing new ideas and having conversations about hip-hop culture, where it’s at and where it’s going. And music videos are the most diverse of all art forms because they are a win-win for the musical artist and videographer. Bennett’s career to date has been a continuous series of wins.
An important thing to note is Bennett’s technological resourcefulness. Social media is the single most important tool for any independent, up-and-coming artist today. Platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat enable artists to create a memorable online presence. Specifically, Soundcloud is every music artist’s dream, and YouTube is every videographer’s dream. And it’s all free (unless inclined to pay for an upgrade).
There is no catch. Technologically, social ingenuity is vital for exposure and connection. Bennett got the idea to create a website also from his mom, who had a website for the bar where she worked.
TEDx and Optimism
Cole Bennett was invited to give a TEDx Talk at the University of Illinois, and it was nothing less than genuinely inspiring. His talk discusses the difference in mindset of people who think pessimistically and optimistically, or glass-half-full thinkers versus glass-half-empty thinkers. He states that many of his mentors and collaborators all share a common glass-half-full mentality. They’re problem solvers and optimists.
Bennett refreshingly describes optimism as “a subconscious way to prioritize happiness.” What differentiates good days from bad days depends on a person’s optimism. The Illinois native’s optimism has led him to be ridiculously successful in his craft. He stresses the importance of setting challenging but achievable goals.
Lyrical Lemonade started off as a sketch in his notebook. As a high schooler, when he first conceived the idea for Lyrical Lemonade, he wanted to write about his passion for music, specifically Chicago rap. He wanted to write what wasn’t being written about. Without optimism, Lyrical Lemonade wouldn’t have come to fruition.
Bennett threw his first show with local Chicago artists, and it was an absolute hit. This success motivated him to create bigger and better shows. As each show grew, so did his goals.
For instance, although Bennett and the rest of the world weren’t familiar with Lil Uzi Vert, Bennett wanted to book him. So, doing what anyone else would do, Bennett Googled “How to Book Lil Uzi Vert.” He was able to get the artist for his show, and he’s been on an upward swing for booking big-name artists ever since.
The reason Bennett stands out from other directors and editors in the specific field of music videos is because he stays true to what he knows. The way Roberto Rossellini inspired Italian Neo-Realism in cinema is the way Bennett is inspiring the new wave of music videos through a combination of his editing and animation. This is a new term I like to call “Neo-Trapism.”
my 2018 music video reel. enjoy. pic.twitter.com/scJo5YOVwm
— Cole Bennett (@_ColeBennett_) December 31, 2018
Yeah, Rossellini didn’t realize at the time that he accidentally created a new wave of film, using the remnants from the war in Germany in the 1940s, but, boy, did he look like he knew what he was doing. For Bennett, what started off as a curious passion turned into a new wave of the subgenre. Rossellini and Bennett are men who were just a couple steps ahead of everyone else.
Whether they knew it or not doesn’t matter. Their intended or serendipitous creativity is incomparable.
It’s encouraging to see such a young artist go out and achieve his goals. His can-do attitude is infectious, and it is present in his TEDx Talk. He is, without a doubt, an inspiration for anyone who wants to pursue music or the arts.
Agree to disagree, Bennett is regarded as a genius. He built his career upon his technological resourcefulness and common sense. As cheesy as it is, the old saying that Bennett repeats in his TEDx Talk is true: Anything is achievable when believing in oneself. That’s what he did. Look at him now. Bennett wants to leave his mark on music videos today, and the fact that he has already done so much so young means that there is nowhere else to go but up.
Honestly, anyone could have done what Bennett did, but no one did, or perhaps he beat the rest to the punch. He saw an opportunity and got it while it was hot. Now, he’s on fire.
Check out Bennett’s filmography on YouTube and follow him on Instagram for cool behind the scenes and updates on everything Lyrical Lemonade. His TEDx Talk is also worth watching for a little inspiration.
P.S. Cole Bennett, if you’re out there somehow reading this, what editing software do you use?
Sincerely, a Chicago editing student