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Lyrical Lemonade: Promoting the Chicago Hip-Hop Scene One Event at a Time

 

Cole Bennett knew he wanted to make his own impact in the music industry ever since he was a high school student. He grew up outside the city and would trek an hour and a half to Chicago every weekend to check out shows. And coming from a film background, he soon launched his own website for coordinating shows, sharing his music videos, and promoting other artists.

Three years later, Lyrical Lemonade has grown with seven other staff writers regularly writing articles, garnered over 8,000 Twitter followers, and they’ve hosted several sold-out shows between Reggie’s, the Metro, and the Portage Theater.

After Bennett started the site and coordinated a few shows, he said “I knew I needed to be in Chicago.” He enrolled at Depaul University initially for studying film before switching to communications and media. He’s usually blasting emails in cafes between his classes and studies. “I have a pretty jammed schedule,” he said.

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When Bennett moved out here, he built a team, got to know the venues, networked, and generally discovered “how it all works.” Now, he heads meetings every week to take care of the house-keeping while planning longer-term projects — like their first print magazine that Lyrical Lemonade will publish this winter and a big show to celebrate their third year anniversary.

And it wasn’t hard to find serious team members. “It’s a special thing that people want to be a part of,” Bennett said, “a lot of people reached out to be involved.”

He’s a savvy guy. He got involved in the Chicago hip-hop scene during a time when it’s being written as a “renaissance,” including a feature the Chicago Tribune as well as a post about it on the web annotator tool Genius.

Speaking of the hip-hop scene, one of the works Bennett is most proud of is his 50-minute long documentary he made on Chicago hip-hop. The film featured Twista and even Chance the Rapper’s father, who of course formerly served as President Obama’s deputy assistant as well as an aide to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Every day is different for Bennett. “It’s fun. It’s never what you expect,” he said. Stay posted on their latest updates and events here, or follow @_ColeBennett_ on Twitter.

 

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Colin Smith is a Chicago-based writer. He led his college’s newspaper, wrote features for a magazine in Kenya, and wrote a thesis on the cultural iconography of the guitar. In addition to serving as editor for an environmental nonprofit, he is a freelance writer and writes psychedelic-pop songs.

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