Interview With Teddy Benson

By: Nate Whitsell


Trends are like black holes… if black holes do, in fact, have an inordinate measure of gravity about them. Hip hop artists are often like space debris drifting along, doomed to be pulled into the black holes of what’s trendy in the moment. On the other hand, there are gravity defying anomalies like Teddy Benson who are so zeroed in to their specific niches in hip hop, that they cannot be swayed by the shifting tides of popular commercial music. One listen to Benson’s latest release, the 1904 EP, and I am convinced that you will recognize the truth in my words (and his), and that you will become a fan.

While Teddy Benson navigates his niche, prepares for fatherhood, and continues to pursue his dream to change lives with his music, he still finds a little time to share with us. Enjoy.

Who is Teddy Benson?

Teddy Benson: Everybody looks themselves in the mirror at one point in life (some more than others) and they say, “This isn’t the me I want to be, I should have longer hair, more muscles,” and maybe you’re thinking, “I can be better in other areas of your life.”  To me, Teddy Benson is just that: it’s the me I see when I close my eyes and dream, it’s the me I see when people remember my life and speak the stories of a legend.

How has hip hop changed your life? Can you tell a story that really displays how/when that change took place?

Teddy Benson: I think ever since a kid seeing a 100,000 people screaming and pumping lighters for Michael Jackson, I knew the impact you could have when you made GREAT music. Going down my own personal journey, I remember my neighbor coming to me and saying, “You know that song about your dad, I really like that man, it touches me cuz I don’t know my dad either.” Hearing that showed me that I had so much more of a responsibility with my music than I knew.

I originally met you doing an interview for back in January. What has been the highlight of 2016 since doing that interview? Personally? Musically?

Teddy Benson: School has been an important addition to my life. I’m chasing a PhD in Psych. I believe that, with my position and talent, I owe it to people to achieve and do things worthy of being copied.

As I write these questions, I am listening to the 1904 EP. It really is an excellent body of work. What was the process of creating 1904 like? Can you tell us a story about a moment during the creation of the 1904 EP when you (and those you worked with) had to step back and say, “Damn, this is gonna make a mark!”?

Teddy Benson: I make music about my life, about life in general. I’m constantly deep in thought, thinking about the sorrows and pains of the world. I question humanity and morality. And that bleeds out into my music. But it wasn’t until we were putting the track listing together that we realized that it was going to be so epic. You know, once you reach a certain level, every song comes out pretty dope, but that doesn’t make it a hit, or mean that you should release it.  

Something I’ve recognized, and even commented on, is that you are open to approaching the game differently. What inspired you to take a different path than many, if not most, other artists?

Teddy Benson: Originality is key, and even more than that, I always been odd – I did things different. I always stood out. Not in a good way most of the time. I think because I speak truth in my music, while everyone is trying to be a trapper, or portray a lifestyle the ordinary person can’t connect to. I speak on the woes of someone who is giving their all in life to win, and people respect that.

It makes sense that that last question would naturally lead me to ask you about my personal favorite song on the 1904 EP, One of a Kind. Can you share a bit about some of the factors, life experiences, etc., that helped to inspire the creation of One of a Kind?

Teddy Benson: Life for me has been crazy. I’ve been up and down, I’ve had a lot and fucked it all off. I know what’s is like to have nothing and get it all over again. I know what it’s like to be down 20 in the 4th quarter and come out with the win. My strength is perseverance.  I’ve had friends turn to enemies. And enemies to friends. But most of all, with my high level of ambition, and the vision that I know I will see come to fruition is so grand that I don’t think another person will ever top it.

Is it okay if I get a little personal? I hope so, because I care more about your real story than just the stuff that basic music interviews typically cover. I am curious, as a father myself, how the news of your future child has affected your music/grind/content/etc. In the online entrepreneur space, cats named Pat Flynn and John Lee Dumas, have coined this phrase, “the baby effect” – they have noticed the pattern that the addition of children into a person’s life is often a catalyst for greater hustle and usually significant success. How has becoming a future father affected your craft?

Teddy Benson: It has just sharpened my senses. The time I have for anything has been cut down to nothing that don’t make music. This is baby number 2 for me, and unfortunately I’m not able to be in my first daughters life. So for me, this is like a chance to make up. To show my first baby’s moms, “Look, this is what you robbed me of, and I’m a great daddy.”

You just shared a major component of your motivation. Now can you shift us from what motivates you to achieve your goals, to what determines your goals? Why do you make music?

Teddy Benson: I never had a dad growing up, so I was left to govern myself for the most part. But what I found myself doing was looking to the TV to be my dad and I had multiple:  Carl Winslow from family matters being number one and uncle Phil being number two.  I’ve always wanted to provide for my family and give them any and everything in the world.  So my grind is reflective of that.  When my children look at me I want to be an example of what it is to be a man, and the goals that any man or woman should want to achieve.

And, what is your vision, as you look to the future, for Teddy Benson, and your music?

Teddy Benson: Music is my vessel to change lives. So ask me what I’ll be doing 15 years from now, or even 50, it’ll be the same response: changing lives.

I strongly believe that an artist’s success is, at least in part, a result of the joint effort of the individual and his/her team. Who is the ACKRITE team? How has your team helped you get to where you are now?

Teddy Benson: Ackrite is the independent label that I signed a 50/50 partnership with. And Jay has been in my corner ever since, knocking on doors trying to get us in the position we need to be to take this to the next level.

As we begin wrapping up, what’s something you’d like to share with San Diego Hip Hop?

Teddy Benson: I definitely want to just thank you for reaching out and connecting with me. More important than the music sometimes is getting yourself in the right platforms to get your music out, for people to find out who you are in an avenue they respect.

Can you point to some other artists who you see as comrades, and who you also see as helping to progress San Diego’s hip hop scene?

Teddy Benson: Looselyric, a very solid artist. Makes struggle music you can connect to like myself. And he has been in my corner since day one.

Finally, where should readers go to connect with you?

Teddy Benson: I’m mostly on Facebook, which is the easy guess @ Teddy Benson and you can find me on any other social media i.e Snapchat, IG, Twitter, SoundCloud:


Listen to the 1904 EP HERE.

Check out Ackrite HERE.

#HIPHOP ain’t never been better


Peace, Love & Hip Hop,

– Nate Whitsell