How Cole Bennett became the Gen Z director of hip hop

Cole’s YouTube channel and home grown brand ‘Lyrical Lemonade’ has become synonymous with top tier music video quality – and he’s only 23.

When Eminem first dropped the video to his recent single ‘Godzilla’, many were surprised to see it wasn’t posted by VEVO, the typical outlet for top tier pop stars.

It was instead released by Lyrical Lemonade, the hip hop music video channel that’s celebrated by avid fans of the underground and the up-and-coming trap artists of today. Perhaps the biggest name to work closely with the channel was the late Juice WRLD, whose top videos are all published through Lyrical Lemonade. You can watch the clip for the track ‘Lucid Dreams’ below.

This isn’t just another big, corporative machine that’s churning out videos for views, however. Lyrical Lemonade was created by Cole Bennett, a 23 year old director and writer from Chicago, who remains at the head of the company and continues to craft fantastic and creative videos. So, how did it all start, and where’s Lyrical Lemonade headed? We’ve got the ins and outs of how Cole became one of the biggest names in the music video industry, and where things could go next.

Who is Cole Bennett?

Cole is a 23 year-old director, creative, and rabid fan of the Chicago rap scene, who grew up just outside the city with his mother. He’d been filming videos for friends at school as a teenager when he decided to launch his own website under the name Lyrical Lemonade.

Balancing university work with his entrepreneurial goals, Cole eventually dropped out of schooling to continue raising the profile of his company. He began to work with artists such as Wiz Khalifa, Gucci Mane, and held a show for Lil Uzi Vert in Chicago.

Cole was soon tied to the underground wave that begun to bubble throughout the 2010s, and his name later became synonymous with the SoundCloud rapper movement that would explode into the mainstream toward the end of the decade. Lyrical Lemonade gained further attention along with trap music, and soon the brand became just as respected and established as some of the biggest production studios.

Cole talked about how he came from humble beginnings to meeting icons such as J Cole and Rick Rubin in a TED Talk in 2019, which you can watch in full below.

How has Lyrical Lemonade expanded?

Believe it or not, Cole founded Lyrical Lemonade as a blog page in 2013, after his mother gave him a recording camera and suggested the original name. Over the next few years he quickly found clients and artists to work with in his home city of Chicago, exploding into the mainstream with the success of Juice WRLD’s multiple music videos on the channel.

Since then, Cole’s continued to expand his portfolio and engage with increasingly bigger names. Eminem’s latest video is his most prolific project to date, and has amassed over 100 million views already, despite only being out for a month or so. The song is also a tribute to the late Juice WRLD, whose vocals are used on the chorus.

Elsewhere, Cole has directed Jack Harlow’s ‘What’s Poppin’ music video, set in a diner as he attempts to light a chip like a cigarette and throws darts at…himself? It’s a fun video, and it’s no doubt helped the song’s success along with its popularity on TikTok.

Other artists that have worked with Cole include TheHxliday, Lil Skies, and NLE Choppa. You can watch the video for the most recent track ‘Save Me’ below.

What’s next for Cole Bennett?

Lyrical Lemonade is only set to get bigger as the years roll on, particularly given the high profile clients Cole’s been working with recently. Where he goes next is anybody’s guess, but I’d put a substantial amount of money on him staying tied to his company for the rest of his career.

The YouTube channel will only continue to grow, and we’re likely to seeing even bigger hip hop names jump on board. We may even get Post Malone featured on the channel, though that’s wishful thinking on my part. What makes Lyrical Lemonade particularly interesting is the brand’s emphasis on content and artist relations with listeners. The Lyrical Lemonade website – where it all started – continues to run today, with new articles on emerging acts being released every single day. Cole also has a second channel detailing all the behind-the-scenes anecdotes from shoots and projects, giving audiences a little bit more insight into the production process. Check out this video where he talks about the ‘Godzilla’ shoot.

If anything, Cole’s success is a testament to hard work, optimistic thinking, and entrepreneurial spirit. He has truly made a name for himself in a notoriously tough industry by being persistent, dedicated, and passionate about his craft. Lyrical Lemonade videos are consistently stellar, and to bring a unique, independent perspective to the music video world is fantastic.

Cole puts many VEVO productions to shame, and he’s a beacon of inspiration for other Gen Z musicians and directors who are looking to make their way in the creative industries. Anything is possible – and with enough work, timing, and patience, any of us could be the next big director or artist.

Let’s see where it goes from here.

 

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