Taylor Bennett Speaks Candidly About Coming Out & Creating His Own Lane (Video)
In the last month, Taylor Bennett released a six-song project called BE YOURSELF. The DIY project is the latest from the Chicago, Illinois MC. For many Hip-Hop Heads, two things come to mind surrounding the 22-year-old. He is the younger brother of Grammy Award-winning Rap star Chance The Rapper. Additionally, Taylor is one of the most well-known openly bisexual professional rappers. Appearing on The Breakfast Club, the younger Bennett directly addressed both of those aspects of his life and career.
Near the 3:00 mark, Angela Yee asks Taylor if there has ever been an interview where he has not been asked about his older brother. “It was almost this one,” admits Taylor, before the studio breaks into laughter. He says he understands why people bring up another rapper so frequently. “It’s my brother. He’s the biggest independent artist in the world; I can’t hate. Like I…we really come from nothing. When we get to this light, they want to see us go head-to-head. We ain’t goin’ head-to-head,” he elaborates. Three years younger than Chano’, the two MCs cut their teeth in Hip-Hop by freestyling together during childhood. “As an artist, I spent a long time looking at my brother as somebody who was trying to do it and trying hard to not sound like him. [After] my biggest album, Broad Shoulders, my dad told me [while] we were in the car…’You know what, stop trying to not sound like him. That’s your blood…write what Taylor Bennett wants to write.'”
Taylor’s openness about his sexuality has brought attention to that songwriting. Last January 18, just a day before his 21st birthday, the MC announced his being bisexual on social media. The revelation came even before Bennett told his parents. At 4:30, he explains, “I don’t think [my parents] were offended [by my not telling them first]; I think they were really happy for me. I got parents that are great. They’re visionaries more than anything.” Bennett’s father is briefly shown on camera, in the corner during the interview. Taylor says he was so comfortable with his mother and father that he did not consider their reaction. He also recognizes that he has a level of support and understanding from his parents that is rare for members of the LGBTQ community coming out. An advocate on behalf of Chicago’s homeless youth for years, Taylor says he has seen the opposite in the lives of people he hopes to help. “A lot of those problems stem from kids comin’ out and their parents kickin’ them out their crib. For me, that was something that I never had to worry about. I have amazing parents. A lot of kids don’t have that.” He says he told his family while in Miami, and that his father admitted that he sensed his son’s bisexuality for years.
At 6:15, The Breakfast Club hosts ask Taylor how long he has known. “I’ll be honest: it definitely is something that I’ve always felt a trace of. But I’ma be honest [about this], too: I grew up on the south side of Chicago. Most of my friends were in gangs and sh*t. It wasn’t acceptable. I’m not gonna act like it was. That’s why I came out when I was 21. That’s even the reason why I’m actually making this project now. It’s not for me, because I already lived through this sh*t. I already went through high school. I already made my choices. But there’s kids that’s gonna come after us, and I realize that that’s some sh*t that was kinda stolen from me [by not feeling comfortable during adolescence],” He continues, “I think that as Black people, we can kinda all feel that sh*t. You get to that 21-25 age where the cops ain’t pullin’ you over all the f*ckin’ time no more, but you’re just like, ‘Damn. This sh*t [is] done; I ain’t no kid no more.'” He points to unhappiness and uncertainty entering formal adulthood. “That’s how I felt, and I don’t like that feeling. I’m not somebody that likes to feel constrained. That’s how it felt a long time and a long period of my life. As an artist, that’s why I want to change that, ’cause I do have the platform to come up here [with] y’all, and talk about it.”
On the cover of BE YOURSELF, Taylor Bennett appears in rainbow-printed briefs, surrounded by balloons. Asked about the unconventional Rap album cover, the 22-year-old says, “I’ve been living in this Hip-Hop world since I was 14. I’ve only been living in the LGBTQ community for a year. As an artist and as a person, I really don’t like to speak on things unless I know them. It took me a year to not just look into myself but to become friends with different people who are rising stars in the community, like Indya Moore which is a star on POSE. Shout out to her,” he says. “Hip-Hop is a global conversation now. It’s not really until you see a Young Thug and Lil Uzi Vert wearing purses that you [become aware of] acceptance of LGBTQ—not just in the Black community, but it’s all up in roars all over.” Young Thug is the most recognized guest on BE YOURSELF. Taylor praises his friend’s courage to be himself. “In America, we have the highest rates of f*ckin’ suicide because people can’t fit in. You ain’t supposed to fit in, ni**a.”
At 15:00, Taylor opines that while the Black community is disconnected from the LGBTQ community, Hip-Hop culture is not. “Hip-Hop is gay as f*ck. But also know that there’s a lot of Black people that never got the opportunity like [I did] to come out. That’s what I’m tryin’ to do, to help them feel comfortable.” He embraces the skeptics who may prefer the sexuality aspect to be apart from music. “All the ni**as that even might be calling me gay like, ‘Yo, that ni**a gay!’, I want your kids to feel comfortable. Ni**a, you could hate on me, but I’ma put this out and I’ma make sure that when your kid is in school that he gets to be whoever the f*ck he wants to be. At the end of the day, you could hate me for it, but Taylor Bennett is—what you see is what you get. My homies, they respect that—no matter what.”
At 18:30, Bennett also speaks about his father, Ken Williams-Bennett. Taylor and Chancellor’s father is known for his work with the Mayor of Chicago and relationship with President Barack Obama. However, Taylor adds a different perspective. “My dad is my best friend. He’s the realest dude that I know on this [planet]. Because I’ve seen what he’s gone through. I know where we come from. I know where he’s come from. Every day we’re blessed. I still know, at 22, that God is my best friend.” Bennett appears to get choked up when correcting the hosts for reducing Williams-Bennett’s accomplishments to politics. “When people just come at home sayin’ political sh*t, that makes me mad. ‘Cause he’s a real Black man, he’s here. He’s not just inspiring to meet as other little Black kids look up to him.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Taylor Bennett explains cutting red meat and pork from his diet to lose weight. He also explains reasons for getting rid of his jewelry, and why he and Chance are permanently rooted in the city that raised him.
The guest closes his interview by explaining that he is reaching his dreams in the face of naysayers. “I’ve had so many people tell me I couldn’t be sitting here [on The Breakfast Club]. I’ve had so many people tell me I couldn’t be playing [The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon], just ’cause my brother is Chance.” After a semester in college, perhaps abandoning Rap plans, Taylor says, “God’s the reason I didn’t give up. It wasn’t my dad [or] Chance.”