Throughout elementary, middle, even a few years in high school, my brother and I had the same teachers. He was a good student, excellent conduct, every car in the driveway had an honor roll bumper sticker. Teachers expected the same from me. He left such an impression that when teachers did roll I was called “Quinn’s little brother.”
Most siblings will have these moments in some variation. It’s a part of growing up, finding your identity and leaving your own memorable mark. It’s harder for siblings to co-exist in the entertainment industry. Not every family can be K-Ci & JoJo. There's Solange and Beyonce Knowles, Michael and Tito Jackson, Diggy and JoJo Simmons. The shadow that gets cast is enormous once the brightest spotlight finds your brother or sister. Now your eclipsed by their success, their fame becomes linked to yours. Your last name is now your first. The only acclaimed siblings that aren’t Kardashian’s and in the music industry that fame and talent are close to equal is Willow and Jaden Smith, but their family legacy put them in a different league. Sibling equality isn't a story the worry wants to hear, you can either be Marcia or Jane, Vinny or Drama. Those are your options.
Chance The Rapper currently has no equals. Since the release of Acid Rap, he's creatively entered a realm where no other seems to exist. He is one of hip-hop’s golden children, the fans curse his name for hoarding music and sing to the heavens with every new SoundCloud link. From touring with Childish Gambino to entertaining the world on his own, he's accomplishing accolades without the aid of a label.
Imagine being the younger brother of that soaring star, carrying that same burning passion to perform poetry behind microphones, standing on stages bearing your soul. Taylor Bennett doesn’t have to imagine, this is his life. He’s a few years younger than Chance, but the resemblance is uncanny. It’s not just his face, but Taylor’s voice also shares a similar cadence, cartoonish, Cartman pitched, between grown man and pre-teen. If you ever confused Yung Thug for Lil Wayne, you are likely to mistake the Bennett brothers. With all these similarities, some will hear Taylor and immediately label him Chance 2.0. Looks like a Chance, sounds like a Chance, we already know Chance, so why put in the work to get to know the younger brother on his own?
One day last year, I got an email from Kelechi, a submission for his latest single, “Spend It," featuring Taylor Bennett. I knew the name, Chance The Rapper’s younger sibling, who I saw on a few blogs but never bothered to give an ear. Similarly, I slept on Solange until I heard her on Theophilus London’s "Flying Overseas." A good feature can be ear opening, and I immediately regretted overlooking him. He ripped it, anytime a rapper is switching flows smoother than a Lamborghini switching lanes I’m impressed. Some rappers use features to get paid and spit on autopilot, not Taylor. He attacked the song like it was his single. He raps with rapid fire animation, a style that catches you completely off guard, he’s like a kid high off glue and a sugar rush from hell. If the beat was a room he was bouncing off the walls. I started to dig deeper into his music, one of the first songs I came across was "New Chevy," featuring King L. It gave me a glimpse of his versatility. He wasn’t just a rapping fire cracker. All that explosive energy could be focused and create a record that feels fun and possibly radio friendly.
Plenty of rappers adopted speedy flows after Busta’s “Look At Me Now” performance, but it became a stale style quickly. I actually enjoy Taylor’s Tasmanian Devil approach. When he raps fast, it’s like being caught in a meteor shower of rhymes. Listen to “Im Coming Down.” Listen to the Taylor Bennett Freestyle he did for DJBooth, he’s literally lyrically running a marathon at a sprinter's pace. Chicago needs someone to carry the tongue twisting torch into the new age. He loves his hometown, I haven’t heard a song that doesn’t pay some kind of homage to the city that gave us Kanye and Common. He can be lighthearted and youthful, that side is showcased on "Prom Song." Reminds me he’s old enough to enlist, but legally can’t donate money to a stripper's college funds. He can also be serious and introspective, “Gods Children” is journal entry level personal, but makes for a great song. I jumped through his SoundCloud and no two tracks are the same. Various producers and styles are explored, experimenting, searching for his voice.
It’s interesting that Chance and Taylor haven’t crossed paths musically. Taylor isn't the little brother that picked up the microphone after witnessing his brother's sucess, he's been pursuing music for years. Chance mentions him on "Sunday Candy" (“Only ones she love as much as me is Jesus Christ and Taylor”) and Taylor has been teasing about a collaboration on Twitter, it’ll take 10,000 retweets and a genie in a bottle before it gets released. Should Chance be more publicly supportive of his music? Probably not, at least if they want Taylor Bennett to be Taylor Bennett and not, “the little brother of Chance The Rapper.”
The more I listen, the more the two become distinguishable. Chance's approach is more abstract, Taylor is candid. Both utilize wordplay weapons of mass destruction and sing from the soul, but I would call the overlaps more “familiar” than “imitation.” I felt the same way about Alex Wiley and Vic Mensa for a little while too, before really listening their approach seems similar to Chance's output. Since I heard Chance before any other, who knows where the bizarre style originated. This is a group that grew together, like brother’s that borrow clothes, now Vic and Alex are in lanes that are completely their own. Taylor's subject matter is much different than his older brother, he has his own perspective, and that will allow him to soar. While Chance changes the game with Social Experiment, there’s room for a rappity-rap Bennett to deliver that #10Day-esque level lyricism. Chicago is full of talent but I like Taylor's spirit. He has a presence that’s hard to ignore, refining will make him into a monster.
I'll always be Quinn's little brother, family ties can't be cut. But time has allowed me to learn how to be both myself and his brother. Maybe someday Chance and Taylor Bennett will reach the same point, become hip-hop’s Mario and Luigi, brothers in music, individuals that are even more powerful together.
[By Yoh, aka Quinn's Little Brother, aka @Yoh31.]