How "Ben" song and video was born:


I love hip-hop, it's all I do, everyday all day.

It's the only way I stay alive. 

In the hip-hop world it's not only accepted - but it's actually cool to use terms like faggot, queer, homo and gay, in a derogatory manner.  

My best friend came out to me in college. Now you can see the dilemma.

When I saw the "it get's better" video it touched me and I wished that I could do something to help things get better.

But if I was to say something like that it would be hip-hop suicide.

All my idols and all the greatest rappers have used these words and really shunned the gay community away.

As I was producing music for "Michael & Me" I came across the a cappella of "Ben" (Michael Jackson's first solo number 1 hit).

It amazed me at how perfectly the lyrics fit if one were to think of Ben as the gay community.

I couldn't deny the "it gets better hip-hop song" any longer... I had to act immediately.

After choosing the lyrics that most moved me I sped up the sample and made a hip-hop beat around the vocals.

I loosely used the kick pattern and song layout of "All Falls Down" by Kanye West.

Originally the song was going to be titled "It gets Benner," but instead I decided on just "Ben." 

Although I did add that "Ben" be an acronym for "Better Everything Now" which was what I was doing in my heart.

During the writing of the lyrics there was a constant tug-o-war because I needed to still be what I am... hip-hop.

And because the issue itself is much much bigger than a three and a half minute song, I felt like I was leaving so much out.

I wrote more verses than I had ever written for any one song.

I struggled because I could have easily saved myself by saying  "being gay is cool from a distance, but don't come at me with it- know what I mean?!"

Or I could have easily been very vague like when Jay-Z disses someone, you know, not sure what he said but kinda get the idea.

Or the way Lady Gaga say's "Born this way"

it's an anthem for the LGBT community but she doesn't come out and say it.

But I thought NO... This needs to be dialoged... this has to be said... this should be accepted.... and they deserve for someone to let them know that they aren't wrong... I NEED TO SAY IT BLUNTLY.

So I did. I even went as far as stealing Harvey Milk's opening speech words for my first line. ("Hello, my name is Harvey Milk and I'm here to recruit you." = "Hello, my name is Adair and I'm here to recruit you.")


Now, the music video was sparked during a 4 am studio session (which happens a lot) conversation with my manager about being gay. She said, "you ever heard of the saying queer as a three dollar bill?"

Then it clicked... I should have Benjamin Franklin "Ben" be on the three dollar bill (like on the one hundred dollar bill) and have a video crew follow me as I try to spend it, but nobody "accepts" this bill.

The three dollar bill not being accepted anywhere would be the metaphor for the LGBT community not being accepted anywhere. 

That idea turned into a little girl waking up with a three dollar bill in her birthday card that her dad left for her before he went off to work.

She tries to spend it everywhere and it's rejected... but it does finally become accepted ... ironically it's accepted from the most unlikely candidate.

And that's what hip-hop is... the most unlikely candidate to accept gays.

when she returns home she is greeted by her dad returning from work and walks into a surprise birthday party that her other dad had been setting up.

I also wanted to paint a depiction of gays as being very monogamous, pure and love filled- while in my heterosexual story line

I would be the disgusting pervert who was being unfaithful to his girl and hooking up with a minor.

Why? Because being gay is often villainized and heterosexuality is portrayed as pure and "wholesome."

So I reversed the roles to show that that is not the case.

I have worked with very talented directors such as Ian Wolfson aka Rex Arrow (Mac Miller's video director) and Jon Kilmer (Collin McLoughlin's video director)

but this kind of video needed great attention to detail and multiple story-lines... so I took the project on myself.

Having a #1 most requested song on the radio (93.1 the beat) allowed me to have a lot of support for this video from the local community, especially the minorities and the LGBT communities.

Add director to the list please.


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