By Aaron Allen
The Seattle Medium
Seattle possesses a legendary music history. From Jimi Hendrix, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles (in his formative years), Ernestine Anderson, and even Bing Crosby.
Despite being located outside of the traditional areas of musical influence in America, Seattle has always been a diamond in the rough when it comes to producing talent. The region is filled with talented artist waiting to be discovered.
If you ask Mr. Benjamin, a local independent artist with BJ&J Entertainment, the hip hop scene in Seattle has been vibrant for a long time.
“The Seattle music scene, particularly hip hop, is real,” says Mr. Benjamin, who has been active in the local hip hop scene since 1995. “The music scene in Seattle is not a game, it’s a movement.”
Mr. Benjamin’s extraordinary journey as an independent artist has been very impressive. He has received numerous awards from former Seattle Mayor Paul Shell, Governor Gary Locke, and King County Executive Ron Sims. In addition, he has won four West Coast Hip-Hop (WHHH), and has been featured/honored by many local media outlets due to his positive energy and empowering message geared toward the local youth.
This year, the multi-award-winning, independent manager/artist has once again made history, as he has made his way back on the B.E.T. network with a new single titled, “Spend It.” The track features Mr. Benjamin as a musical guest alongside his son/BJ&J entertainment artist Maribased1. B.E.T jams started airing the video on Super Bowl Sunday.
“We’ve become the first, independent Seattle hip-hop/rap artist and label to appear on the long running B.E.T Jams,” says Mr. Benjamin. “20 years ago, we were on the classic uncensored video show, B.E.T. Uncut, with the single, “The Anthem” (What’s My Name”, “Mr. Benjamin, Mr. Benjamin”) in the early 2000’s, and we are continuing this legacy as I am working with and managing the career of my son, who goes by the name Maribased1.”
Benjamin’s journey has not been without challenges. The music landscape has changed drastically from the days of selling your cuts out of the trunk of your car or searching for a production or distribution deal with a major label. Today, the music is delivered by the internet and judged by your following and downloads. So, just as the industry has adapted, so has Mr. Benjamin.
“I had to really learn how to work the online presence and the internet,” says Mr. Benjamin. “I come from the era before the internet, and I didn’t believe in the internet. I didn’t think the internet was real, and I saw the internet evolve right in front of my eyes.”
“I’m one of those artists that was in the street, that came out the trunk, that had to be in the people’s face and guerrilla marketing and being out in the flesh and touched the people. So being that [way] was a major challenge.”
Not to be outdone by his accomplished dad, Maribased1 has already appeared on the B.E.T Jams platform five times since 2019, with his singles “Bouncing” and soon after “Scorn” 2019, “Mystery Girl” 2020, “The End” 2020, and “Xuicide” in 2021. With the new collaboration featuring his dad, Maribased1 is now airing his sixth single on B.E.T jams, which is a tremendous feat, during a month where astonishing accomplishments of Black men and women are celebrated, it is absolutely monumental. In addition, his videos are in rotation on many national platforms and streams on social media like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Spotify just to name a few.
In November 2021, Maribased1 entered iTunes U.S song chart landing at #33 for his song “Spend It’ and received a plaque from BJ&J Entertainment. He has also had success on the college circuit and HBCU circuit and charted on college radio charts under his father’s guidance.
Looking toward the future, BJ&J Entertainment wants Seattle to make a statement regarding their place in hip hop. As an independent artist, Benjamin is using his extensive experience to move his son’s career and his own career in management to another level.
“This is something that is happening organically,” said Mr. Benjamin. “I have to see it to the end to make sure Seattle music is shown to the world. The Seattle market gets overlooked and, at this point, I am trying to be at the forefront and assist in making the world know that Seattle Hip Hop is real, and they we exist.”
It’s clear to some that this father and son duo will dominate the independent hip-hop/rap scene in Seattle and will possibly go down in the Seattle rap game hall of fame together. They have cemented their name in the books and carved out their own lane for success leaving a blueprint for aspiring artist to follow.
“We are a Black-owned business, we believe in this movement of Black artist and music,” says Mr. Benjamin. “We are an independent label that stresses that Seattle music is not a game, it is real, it is movement.”
“It doesn’t matter who reigns as long as I am a part of it,” continued Mr. Benjamin. “We all win. I am here to help everybody, not just myself, I am here to win. I am here to see that the Northwest, Seattle music wins. It’s our time now, we have a lot of talent out here that really gets overlooked.”
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