One 23-year-old kid from the outskirts of Chicagoland has singlehandedly dominated the current DIY music industry. He’s done it rather quickly, too.
Five years after the inception of Lyrical Lemonade, Cole Bennett’s media empire, he has taken the music and entertainment industries by storm using his one-of-a-kind business + art savviness and collaborative chemistry.
Bennett has been an important architect behind the speedy success of many of rap’s quickest-rising names: Juice WRLD, Lil Skies, Lil Pump, Smokepurpp, Ski Mask the Slump God, JID, Blueface, Famous Dex. While those names might seem big now, they were far from big when Cole first began working with each artist.
Throughout his short yet successful career, Cole Bennett has always placed an emphasis on giving underground artists a shot and establishing a platform for the youth, by the youth. Cole Bennett truly epitomizes “everybody eats” in his business; good karma has made its way back around to him many times over. Cole is the furthest thing from a culture vulture, comedically contrasting his frat-esque, suburban image. Cole’s unique and respectable character has made him one of the most beloved media figures of our current time, and he is only growing larger by the day. His connections and ventures are also growing larger by the day, further propelling him into the media stratosphere. He and his LL team have created an annual summer music festival in Chicago- Summer Smash, hosted countless shows, sponsored artists’ tours, consistently sold out seasonal clothing releases, interviewed and promoted many artists, and even have a literal Lyrical Lemonade drink coming to stores in the near future. Cole Bennett and his talented team are plotting their world domination, and it may come to fruition sooner than we think.
While most of us are familiar with Cole Bennett’s M.O. by now, his meteoric rise to fame is quite a blur to those who weren’t there from the start- making Bennett a perplexing character of sorts. While a lot has changed for Cole and his team in the past five years, they have always stayed true to themselves and their gameplan. Obviously, it pays off.
With that being said, I’m going to dissect the life and genius of Cole Bennett and the Lyrical Lemonade empire as a whole. As someone who is truly passionate about music and media, I feel that it is only right to pay homage to someone as respectable and influential as Cole Bennett. Anyone who has creative/business aspirations of their own can take notes and inspiration from Cole, as well.
Cole Bennett was born in Chicago on May 14, 1996, recently turning 23 years old. However, Cole grew up in Plano, Illinois - a small town a bit over an hour southwest of Chicago. Cole was raised by his mom who worked three jobs; his father passed away when he was two years old. Cole claims that his mother’s work ethic played a large role in shaping his work ethic, further describing her as a resilient go-getter. His mother owns a bar in his native Plano, where Cole has shot video before. He has also shot in other locations around Plano, including his high school.
Cole attended Plano High School, where he and his friends launched Lyrical Lemonade as a blog their senior year- 2013. Throughout high school, Cole was intrigued by the developing Chicago rap scene led by artists such as Chance the Rapper and Chief Keef. Cole began going to shows in Chicago and fell in love with the scene; his early articles were centered towards Chicago’s shows and unknown acts.
Following high school graduation, Cole went to DePaul University in Chicago to study Digital Cinema. While he was underwhelmed with what school had to offer, he was thrilled with what the Windy City had to offer. Cole took full advantage of living in one of music’s hotbeds- making moves and connections constantly, growing the young Lyrical Lemonade brand. LL grew up fast, leading Cole to drop out of DePaul his sophomore year and fully lock into his position as both CEO and Director. That leap of faith solidified Cole’s rapid rise to success, allowing him to take his once-small high school idea worldwide.
Some of Cole’s early viral successes include his music videos for “Hit Em Wit It” by Famous Dex (as well as multiple other Dex songs), “D Rose” and “Flex Like Ouu” by Lil Pump, “Ski Mask” by Smokepurpp, “Speed Racer” by Warhol.ss, and “Catch Me Outside” by Ski Mask the Slump God. Cole quickly became known for his colorful, flashy animations beautifully coinciding with his footage, starting a new trend in the music video world. While many other directors and editors have taken after Cole’s style in recent years, no one can do it quite like Mr. Bennett.
the video that started it all
While vibrant music videos are his forte, Cole has also dabbled in filmmaking throughout the years. In early 2016, Cole released “The Culture” - his 50-minute documentary about Chicago’s hip-hop scene and culture. Created with no budget, Cole used his iPhone as the mic for interviewees, working with all he had at his disposal. Despite this, the documentary came out wonderfully and served as a cultural dissertation of Chicago rap. The documentary featured prominent Chicago music figures such as Twista, Dlow, Taylor Bennett (and Ken Bennett, the father of Taylor and Chance the Rapper), Supa Bwe, Lucki, Joey Purp, Do or Die, and DJ Oreo.
In 2017, Cole released his first short film, titled “Lone Springs”. The film starred artists Femdot, Famous Dex, Twista, Warhol.ss, King Louie, Supa Bwe, and Brent Rambo. The film’s premise is simple: don’t fall complacent with life; if you know there’s more out there, go for it! Cole Bennett has surely embodied that mindset in his own life; it is obvious why that was the chosen premise of the 13-minute film. The film was shot in Plano, bringing it full circle for Cole.
Even aside from his film projects, Cole’s music videos are all film quality. From the shooting and editing to the storyline and setting, Cole perfectly orchestrates all of his videos to tell an exact story and emit an exact vibe to the viewer. Cole has redefined what it means to be a visual storyteller, changing the whole game. Cole’s uniqueness, precision, execution and tireless work ethic have made him the star that he is today.
While Cole and friends built their empire from blogs and music videos, they made one of their biggest breakthroughs when entering the world of events. They started small- local acts, local venues. They worked their way through Chicago, securing bigger venues and bigger artists as they went. In 2016, they hosted Lil Uzi Vert’s first ever Chicago concert. After later hosting artists such as Playboi Carti and Rich the Kid, LL worked their way up to Summer Bash- a one-night indoor fest in July. LL hosted two annual Summer Bashes, featuring headliners such as Ugly God, Famous Dex, MadeinTYO, and Matt Ox. In summer 2018, LL had their first full festival- Summer Smash. Summer Smash takes place in Chicago’s Douglas Park, hosting artists such as Joey Badass, Trippie Redd, and Gunna. The awaited 2019 festival with be their first two-day fest, hosting artists such as Playboi Carti, Lil Yachty, Juice WRLD, and Kodak Black.
Aside from their multifaceted creative ventures, Lyrical Lemonade is still very much a business. A successful one, at that. Cole Bennett and his team have done an unbelievable job at branding LL. Over the course of a few years, Lyrical Lemonade went from being a small Chicago blog to being the pinnacle of hip-hop culture and the media that surrounds it. Cole, with the help of endless rapper cosigns, has made LL one of the hottest brands out. LL drops sell out damn near as fast as Supreme or Bape drops; the shit is honestly baffling, I’ve never been able to secure any pieces in my cart. While Cole is a creative visionary at heart, he can run a business like fuckin’ Johnny Rockefeller. It’s truly a spectacle.
Cole’s one-of-a-kind fusion of business savviness and art savviness has given him the juice that no one else can copy or take away; Cole’s one-of-a-kind mind has made him one of the smartest and most successful self-made media figures alive.
The crazy part? Cole just turned 23, man. Cole Bennett has accomplished more by 23 than most people accomplish in a lifetime, but Cole doesn’t use that as a flex. Cole uses that fact to inspire; Cole often emphasizes that anyone can do it. Cole serves as walking, living inspiration to anyone with big dreams. Cole puts his homies and family on; Cole gives artists a chance to make a career. For that alone, I will always look up to him.
Thank you, Cole Bennett. You are leading a generation.