Taylor Bennett is bringing his live show home to Chicago. Partnering with Champion, the show, Coming of Age, will be a celebration of his hometown and, most importantly, free. Taylor describes the effort as one of the multiple ways that he and his brother, Chance the Rapper, aim to continue to want to put on for the people in their city.


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Ahead of the show, Taylor Bennett spoke with The Source on why his Chicago show is so important to him, his recent experiences on national stages, and what made Champion the perfect partner to encourage his audience to “Be Yourself.”

I want to start with music. Your new album contains music and sounds from various genres. How complicated is it for you to create different ideas or sounds into one project?

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Man, it wasn’t easy. I feel like, as an artist, it’s something that I don’t see enough of anymore. I wanted to make sure I amplified it a little bit more. I think there should be a creative risk whenever you put out a project. I think that if that creative risk isn’t there, what are you really doing? So with this project, I wanted to express myself on a level that I felt that I hadn’t before. I wanted my fans and myself to feel more comfortable. I wanted to try to make new sounds, which meant bringing in new producers, which meant bringing in more instruments, guitars, bass, drums, horns, and so many different things that I was never used to consistently.

You have the challenge of creating with all those pieces, but there’s also a level of growth within the artist. What have you learned about yourself as an artist but also as a person and father?

Something different about a lot of other artists and me is I’m independent. I’m fully independent. I don’t have a record deal, a distribution deal, or a publishing deal. So I can take as much time as I want between each project. I can do so many different things under the sun. The sky is the limit for me, and I never thought it could be as big as it is now. Shout out to Champion, the clothing brand; I have an amazing partnership with them to give me the different funds and things I needed to go to different schools and connect with my fans to create an environment for others to be themselves. I had never fully played a concert before, which gave me the ability to invest myself and be a little bit less comfortable than usual and try something new.

In addition, I have been able to move forward with my health mentally and physically. I sleep a lot more, a lot better. I cut out red meat and chicken. I exercise, if not twice, once a day. My favorite exercises are usually cardio. I think physically, but much more importantly, mentally, I’m much more collected throughout this project.

What let you know that it was time to make a change in both a physical and mental way?

It was my children. Um, I’m a father of two now, and when I found out I was going to be a father, I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine, and he asked how the balance in my life is? I was getting upset at him. I’m not going to lie. But then I started to think about it, and I needed to look more into my health. I started to think down the line about when my child was going to be an adult. How was I going to be able to interact with him during his teenage years? And how can I get to a space that not only can I feel better, but I can live longer for my children? Then I would say the second thing in 2018; I put out my project called Be Yourself. That was all about self-expression. And the cover out of it was me sitting in these kinds of rainbow, tighty whities, and I think I look handsome in it, but I don’t think it’s the most attractive picture of me, but it’s where I felt I was mentally and physically at that point.

What let you know Champion was the perfect partner for this state of your career?

That’s a great question. So, you know, first of all, growing up in Chicago, and I’m sure it’s no different for a lot of people in other spaces or places around America, Champion was the go-to. Everybody had Champion. Babies had Champion. Aunties had Champion hoodies. Grandparents had Champion. It’s a universal brand and growing up. There are not too many fashion brands that have always been as universal.

On top of that, as a kid, Champion prices growing up on the south side of Chicago were pretty affordable versus some other brands. So when I started thinking about my brand, which is Be Yourself, promoting positivity and I personally never felt the coolest walking around with merch with somebody else’s name on it. So when I made Be Yourself, I was thinking about the merchandise and how I give people something they feel is their own. So when I started to think about the different partners for this tour and the merchandise, it was perfect. This is the first collaboration that my brand, Be Yourself, has ever done.

I want to give Champion a huge shout-out; not only were they investing in Taylor Bennett’s career and amplifying my project, but overall that is what Taylor Bennett represents: independence and independent music.

You’ve recently been on some national stages in Good Morning America and The Kelly Clarkson Show. How did it feel to be in front of those crowds that people may say aren’t your traditional audiences?

I think that it was huge. When I’m doing a show, especially coming out of a pandemic, unless it’s a festival, crowds aren’t the largest. So it’s very rare that I get an opportunity to perform in front of a couple of hundred people. But when you do a show like Kelly Clarkson, or you do a show like Good Morning America, it’s not just a hundred people. You’re talking about millions. When I was a kid, we watched Good Morning America while eating breakfast. I don’t take this lightly, and it’s what a person has to offer through the TV screen. I was thinking about how I’m so blessed and also how thankful I am for someone to bring an African American, LGBTQ artist to their platform.

You are returning home for a homecoming show. What do you hope to bring to the people in the building when you touch the Chicago stage?

I’m excited. I’m a big fan of Jay-Z and his whole business mind, and I’ve done a lot of research on him. And one thing that Hov used to do a lot that we’ve also done in Chicago, me and Chance [The Rapper] is give back. That doesn’t mean it will always be a million dollars from Chance to CPS. Shout out to him because sometimes it can be as simple as doing a free show. So I’m excited because, on July 22nd, I will be throwing a free show. I get to see my city. A lot of different artists get success, and they move to California or New York. I’ve always lived in Chicago. My brother and I have always lived here. We walk the streets and are participants in programs. So it’s special for me to come back to the city, see people I see often, and then expose them to the things I worked on. But most importantly, it’s free. It’s a concert, but it’s a gathering of friends and family.

You can RSVP to the show at https://taylorbennett.co/champion-tour/.

About The Author

Senior Editor

Shawn Grant is a Chicago native and the Senior Editor of The Source Magazine. He can only be found on Instagram and Twitter at @shawnxgrant.

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