At just 21 years old, Taylor Bennett, rapper and younger brother of Chance the Rapper, has built his brand from the ground up and carved out his own path in the music industry without the assistance from major record labels, and he wouldn’t want it any other way.
“In the ending, the independent gon’ cash winnings/ I make money and spend the money how I’ma spend it/ Only difference is most these n—-s gon’ get a percentage,” Bennett raps at the end of his newest song “Only Difference” premiering exclusively today (Dec. 21) on Billboard. Bennett has long made his disdain for record companies clear, which fueled his decision to launch his own independent label, Taylor Bennett Entertainment, and he recently welcomed his first female artist to the roster, Bianca Shaw.
“Only Difference” is the follow-up to the pair’s first official team-up and Shaw’s proper introduction to the world, “So High.” Shaw and Bennett teamed up with Audiomack for “Only Difference” after paying the streaming service a friendly visit during their press run, an opportunity Bennett says he wouldn’t be afforded if he was backed by a major label. There’s an undeniable musical chemistry heard almost immediately between Bennett and Shaw, who exchange bars about their grind, growing up in Chicago and being independent artists over the atmospheric melody and relaxed boom bap hits.
On Sunday (Dec. 23), Bennett will host his second annual Holiday Bash with performances from Shaw and Melo Makes Music at Chicago’s iconic Metro nightclub. Below, the tandem spoke with Billboard about their latest collab “Only Difference” and their musical connection.
Billboard: Bianca, what made Taylor Bennett Entertainment such a good fit for you at this point in your career?
Bianca: Well, with Taylor, I really didn’t see a reason not to join forces with him; he’s creating his own lane, he’s providing a lane for Chicago artists and he’s staying true to the fundamentals of hip-hop. So I was discovered by his father — at the time, I was with my band Attack the Sound — and he looked up work further and told me, “I’m really impressed with your work.” Then, Taylor saw me and invited me to perform at Reggie’s [Chicago] back in August and the rest has been great, it’s been a great journey so far.
What was the start of “Only Difference?” How’d it come together?
Bianca: We were in New York at a press run; we went to Audiomack just to say hey and we were listening to the track. So they were like, “Hey, do you want to jump on this song?” I was hoping me and Taylor could collab on the track because we come from similar backgrounds; we share the same taste in music — he loves Twista, I love Twista, Eminem, and Missy Elliot of course — and we have a lot of the same background when it comes to that real hip-hop feel and that what I got from this track.
Taylor: You know I think what’s very important for artists is to be natural creatives. I think everything should always flow naturally. One big thing that I always say is if I hear a song and I don’t feel it, I won’t do it and I could say the same thing for Bianca, so I think it’s a very important track. We went into Audiomack to say what’s up, not just from an artist standpoint, but from a business standpoint; we have a lot of respect for Audiomack and we thought it would be a good look and not just a good look, but we loved the beat. After that, we decided to work on it and really get into it.
The track is special not from an artist standpoint, but Bianca is from the Holy City, which is the west side of Chicago, and we’re just talking about how Chicago is not in the best state right now but from the darkest places comes the brightest ideas and I’d like to think “Only Difference” is one of those.
The reason why it’s called “Only Difference” is because the last line of the song, “The only difference all these artists gon’ get percentage,” I’m speaking towards the label standpoint of if you’re with a label most of the times, in order to make the music and be in a position to go to Audiomack like me and Bianca were able to do rather than a bunch of executives sitting at a table and marking out what the best plan for an artist should be. Being an independent record label and artist, I think it’s very important that was stressed on the song and we got a chance to talk about it.
Take me into the studio session when you both were recording “Only Difference.”
Taylor: I think it was just a typical session for me and Bianca because we’re similar artists. When it comes to working together, it’s not even as hard as working on a puzzle. We both know what kind of artist we are and what we stand for, there’s no confusion about that. So when we get in the studio, we’re back and forth spitting different bars and ideas to me and vice versa. What I think is even cooler is we didn’t have to talk that much in that studio session; we both knew exactly what this track and this production was meant to be and we just went in there and did it.
In what ways do you push each other to reach your full potential?
Bianca: I love working with him because he doesn’t pressure me to be anything but myself so I think that is enough motivation. We’re both from Chicago, so I think it really shows when we do showcase our artistry that we come from similar backgrounds with our style and music taste.
Taylor: I know Bianca would just straight up tell me if she doesn’t like it, she’ll be like “That’s wack!” [Laughs] I think that’s what good artists do — they give each other criticism — and I think most artists don’t have that communication enough, but when you hear this track it’s like you don’t even have to ask, “Did Bianca come in and then Taylor came in later?” or “Did they send the track over?” You already knew we were together in the studio and that’s the kind of vibe we want to give when you first hear the track.
I think me and Bianca have a lot more music coming out but the purpose of these tracks are to show people how talented Bianca is and as she’s getting bigger — she’s gaining an even bigger fanbase on her own — and that’s kind of the purpose right now to let everyone know Bianca is the dopest.
I would honestly say on “So High” she had an even better verse than me and honestly, Bianca Shaw is a better artist than me so right now I’m trying to get people to understand and see that in Chicago, there’s a lot of talented artists and we’re trying to break down that gender role that plays in hip-hop culture. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, what your sexuality is or if you’re a guy or girl, you can kill music just as much as anybody else if you put the hard work and time in.