Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records/Asylum Records (L-R Legacy, Ben J)
I had a chance to talk Ben J while he and Legacy were on a break from their tour with Chris Brown. The tour just recently ended in New York. They were driving from the Bay Area to Los Angeles. He shared how they first started and how they plan to expand on the New Boyz enterprise.
DD: So, I just wanted to start with the tour. How's the tour
going with Chris Brown?
NB: The tour is going awesome. It's a lot of cute girls and you know, we
like girls. I mean, we rockin' the house and the fans are enjoying what they
see. It's going great!
DD: What's a typical day like when you have a concert? What are you
doing that day?
NB: We do normal things. We kick
it, hang out and drive around, go shopping, go to sleep. Wake up and go to the
DD: It doesn't sound like your lives have changed that much.
NB: When we signed that deal, we
thought we were going to be the greatest people in the world! We just got more
busier. I took my first plane to New York. Ever since then, I've taken a
million plane trips.
DD: Wait a minute, that was your first time on a plane, coming from LA
to New York?
NB: Right after I signed my deal.
I went to New York. Pow!
DD: So that's interesting that was your first trip. That's your
last date for the Chris Brown tour, right?
NB: I was like, "Wow! I'm on a
plane right now." After that time, we've been on planes every single day of our
lives. We're on our second trip around the
DD: You guys did a tour with Sean
Kingston, now you're touring with Chris Brown. How is that affecting your
relationship as friends? Is tough being seeing each
other and being around each other all the time?
NB: You talking about me and
NB: Honestly, no, not at all.
That's like my brother. You have your differences and then you work them out. He's like, my twin. I live with this guy. I
see him every single day of my life. We're in this industry together. We came
in together, we leave out together.
DD: What did you guys do to make it to where you are? Were you in
NB: We was promoting our shows
through MySpace. That's how we got discovered. We put our songs up. People just started
making music videos to "You're a Jerk." Then the labels came in and said, "This
is something big. So we're gonna
grab it." They called us up and signed us and we was like, "fa sho."
DD: That's cool. So you put your song up on the internet and the
label contacted you? You already had a fan base and everything already.
NB: Yeah, we was making songs way
before "jerk" happened here. So we was just trying to build our fan base, too.
When we put that one song on there, it just started moving.
DD: What was your fan base on MySpace before the label contacted you?
NB: It was dope! We had a lot of
friends, you feel me. This was when you could contact
me and I answer you with the quickness. It was good. Everybody loved us and was like, "I like your music." Once we put the song, "You're a Jerk" on there, we started getting YouTube videos and put them on our page.
Everybody was hittin' us up left and right, left and right. The radio stations
started playing our song. It was the best thing that happened to us.
DD: Can you talk about the internet and how technology how helped you
promote yourselves? You used MySpace and you also made your own beats and used
certain types of equipment.
NB: We were telling people to
listen to our music and staying in contact with everybody, just being so humble
and so nice. How we made our beats. . .Legacy, my partner, had to learn how to
make beats. We were just taking beats off the internet, but that's not making
our own money. And nobody knew the sound that we wanted. It was hard to explain
to people, so that's when we started to teach ourselves how to make beats. And
"You're a Jerk" was like the third beat that we made, in life, so coincidentally;
it was hit.
DD: I was listening to an interview and you said that you got the equipment
because you started off selling candy. How much candy did you have to sell to
get that equipment?
NB: We had a variety pack. It was
$10 and we sold for the whole week. That came up to like $200. We bought the
mixer for like, $85. It was the cheapest in the store. We bought a mic for like, $100. So that was all we used. We slept on the floor. We had
this old computer and hooked it up. We put cartons on the wall and made a
studio. People used to come and record, because it sounded good. That's how we
did our thing.
DD: You mentioned the "jerkin' " sound. How did the whole jerkin'
movement start? Was it started by someone? How did you guys get involved?
NB: It started a long, long time
ago. It started as a gang bangin' dance, a little two-step. Then, over time,
teenagers started to do the moves. It was just in LA, though. They gave it the name jerkin.' We was like, "This dance is
cool." Being teenagers, we wanted to do the dance, but do the music at the same
time. So we said, "How about making a song for the dance?" So, we just threw it
out there and it blew up the dance. And we made the song a double meaning song,
'cause we wanted to reach out to everybody. Anybody that had problems with
someone, they can have it on the dance floor. You know, "This person is a
jerk." Then you got the people that know how to do the dance and consider it,
DD: Now what about the clothes, the skinny jeans and the bright colors.
Is that like a LA thing?
NB: I mean, yeah, they do it in
New York. But mainly, it started in LA, like real big. When we did it, it was
like 80s day at our school. Everybody came in dressed with bright colors and skinny jeans and stuff. When we did
that, we looked at ourselves and was like, "This is cool. This is different. I
can get into this." A lot of people had the same mindset as us. This happened about, four years ago, when we
started dressing like this. Nowadays, we toned down the colors and wear grey
skinny jeans. We don't usually wear bright colors. We do that "grown man look"
DD: Now, you mentioned the 80s. Were there certain people from that
time that inspired you and Legacy to do what you're doing now?
NB: So just being realistic, the
80s didn't really inspire us to make music. It was just the style of our
clothes. We just started doing our own thing (with clothes) and changing it up,
like making it better.
DD: Well, what artists have inspired you to do what you're doing and
get into hip-hop?
NB: Lil' Wayne is a big
inspiration; he's my favorite rapper. Drake inspired me to rap. When I listened
to Drake's lyrics, "I'm like, "Oh yeah, I wanna rap now." When I see Jay-Z perform on YouTube videos and stuff; it inspires me to get my performance
game up. It's just the way he (Jay-Z) holds down the crowd and holds down the
stage. They're inspiring. And Eminem's lyrics, of course, are so good.
DD: I have some questions from a fan of yours. She's 12 years old and
her name is Dejah. She actually made a ning.com page, because she's such a big
fan of yours.
NB: That's what's up!
DD: One of her questions was, "before you started making music what
were you doing?" Were you guys basically going to school? What was your day
NB: Yeah, we was going to school
everyday. I was playing football. I was a big jock in high school. I was a
running back, a little bit more cut than I am now. 'Cause I got skinny. I was
number one in my city, number one in my high school, I scored touchdowns, so I
was real big on that (football). I got a couple of letters to go to different colleges. I
wanted to go to San Diego State University. But like, after the whole school
thing and football, I'd go over the record a song at Legacy's house and record
a song with him. My first song was a love song.
DD: Were you doing the LL "I Need Love" or something like that?
NB: Yeah. Legacy was always
rapping about girls. I was always rapping about weird things. I was just like,
"You not afraid to get talked about?" He said, "Nah, I do whatever I feel."
People loved it. Like, he got a lot of girls over MySpace, because of his
songs. I made my first song and I started to get a lot of girls over MySpace
and what not.
DD: So, you were like, "Let me start making some more love songs."
NB: Yeah, I'm saying to myself,
"Start making anything that comes to mind." I rap about stuff I do on
a daily basis. I'm not gonna rap about guns or shooting, because that's
something that I don't do. Feel me?
DD: Is football something that you eventually want to go back to or was
that a passion of yours in high school?
NB: That's something I eventually
want to go back to, but in my heart, I feel that's not what I'm gonna do. I'm
here making a living out of it (music). I want to get to the farthest endpoint
that you can possibly go.
DD: Dejah's other question is, "What is your favorite thing about being an
NB: My favorite things are the
shows, the girls, making music and listening to it afterwards.
DD: Her last question is, "What is your favorite childhood memory?"
NB: My favorite childhood memory.
. .what did I do? Ok, I'm keeping it 100. My childhood memory that I grew out of
was, getting kicked out all my schools. I was a real bad little boy. To grow up
and look back on that and say, "Why did I do the things that I did?
DD: Was it sports that helped you go in a different direction?
NB: Sports kept me doing things.
If I wasn't doing nothing, I would be getting in trouble. My mom told me that
everyday--Real talk. I didn't realize that when I was real young.. 'Cause I'm
from LA, everybody knows LA. It's either you're doing something with yourself
or hanging out with the wrong crowd, because you're easily influenced. I'm glad
sports kept me focused and on a good road.
DD: I have a couple of questions about the music. Like with the song,
"Tie Me Down" with Ray J, how did that collabo come about? Who organized that?
NB: When we finished our
interview at the BET Awards, Ray J came up behind us jerkin' and stuff. I'm
like, "That was cool. Ray J jerkin'? Aw, dawg, for real?" He was real cool. We
shook his hand. We talked to him and got to know him. Then we did a show at his club, "Poetry Nightclub." We seen him in
the hotel and we was choppin' it up. We was like, "We gotta work together and
get some girls. 'Cause you know, Ray J got girls, don't you?
DD: Yes, yes, yes.
NB: One day we recorded this song
and we needed a singer, so we hit up Ray J. He was like, "Of course, I'll do
it, dawg. We wasn't in the same studio as him, but it still came out good.
DD: Now that you're in the music industry, do you feel like your
friends or family treat you different or is that something that's help to keep
NB: Yes, they treat us different.
My family just acts like I'm this new person, feel me? That's just how my
family is gonna be now. I still love my family to
death, but they did kinda switch up. But, my family, personally, the ones I
live with are involved in my life. My mom is one of my managers. My dad is my
road manager. We keep our circles small, because you can't trust too many
people out there. We still do the same things we used to do when we have our
off time. Like, I'll go kick it with my homeboys and what not. Go grab a girl
and try to go to the movies, mall, shop. I mean, it's all the same things. My
homeboys treat me the same. They just look at me and say, "Wow, you really made
it, dawg." You know, they're all the same.
DD: You guys have such a great story with what you're doing. What gave
you the confidence that you could succeed in the music industry? Is it because
you have the family support?
NB: Damn! That's a good question!
When I was playing football, I wanted to play in college. I
wanted be a professional football player in the NFL. You know that's everyone's
dream. But you know, not everybody makes it to the NFL. Either I was gonna have
me a bomb job working behind the desk. That's not a job I want to get used to,
honestly. School was fun, but it just wasn't my thing. In my heart I felt that
rapping was going to take me far. That's just something I felt. If I make a
decision in life, I'm taking it seriously. It was a real big decision I made,
quitting football to rap and you're not really big in the industry yet. It was a
hard decision. I don't know. I always had confidence in myself. My mom always
told me, "Never give up. If you want to do something, do it to the fullest."
DD: Now, what are your plans after the tour? Are you doing any more
tours? Are you working on another album?
NB: Right now, we're building our
relationships with lots of people. We're getting used to touring, because we're
looking forward to doing a lot more touring. This is the most fun part of
making music, touring. After the Chris Brown tour, we're going to take a break
around late December, early January. We're working on movies at the beginning
of the year. We're trying to get our clothing line set up, our shoe line. We're
looking at comics. We're trying to do everything. We're trying to stay
relevant, keep the fans interested in our lives.
DD: Which social networking site do you use the most?
NB: Twitter. We're on Twitter
real heavy. If you want to know anything about us, just go on twitter. We have
a whole big fan base on twitter. They can tell you information about us, if we
don't get to you in time. Twitter is real big in the
industry, because you can stay connected with your fans. That's a good way to
promote yourself and let the fans know where you're headed to next. It's a good
way to network. You meet a whole lot of new people. You can meet famous people
and they're saying some words to you, feel me? I said some words to Keri Hilson
on twitter and I didn't think she was going to say anything, but she did!
DD: So, it's good networking for you guys, too. If you want work with
someone, you can just hit them up on twitter.
NB: That's how we knew we were on
the tour with Chris Brown. He actually hit us up on twitter. He was like, "I
want New Boyz on my "Fan Appreciation Tour." I was like "What, are you kidding
me?" That's real big.
DD: What's the next single you might drop on your album?
NB: We're looking at dropping,
"New Girl" and "Criquetz". "Criquetz" is more gritty, more grimey and stuff
like that. Like all the haters hatin' on us, it's like, "I hear you, dawg, but
I ain't hearing you. I don't care what you think of me. Period. Point blank." I'm doing this and I'm getting paid; that's good then. "New Girl" is the
follow-up to "Tie Me Down."
DD: Did you have anything you wanted to add? Any message you want to
give to your fans?
NB: This coming from me. I love
everybody. I'm a very sweet person, I've been told. I talk to everybody on my
twitter. If I can't get to you, I just can't get to you. I'm sorry. It's a lot
of people that's writing me. Hit me up one more time on my twitter,
benjnewboyz, with a "z." Stay focused. Stay dedicated.
DD: Ben, thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to let
us interview you. We really appreciate it. We wish you all the best with
everything that you're doing! We really appreciate that you guys are so
positive, too, so thank you!
NB: Thank you, Jen! Alright, Jen,
talk to you later.
Here's a list of New Boyz' faves
and other things you've been dying to know:
- Birthdays: Legacy (October 12th)
Ben J (October 13th ).
Zodiac Sings: Scorpio
Favorite TV Shows: Ben J (BET, MTV, Cartoon Network),
Legacy (Family Guy)
Favorite Sneakers: Nike Air Max (in every color)
iPod Music: Young Money Family, Lil'
Chuckie, Lil' Wayne, Jay-Z, Justin Bieber, rock music, too (Linkin Park)
Favorite Cologne: Burberry, Ben J recently
got Acqui di Gio as a gift from his sister
Single: Yes!! (You ain't gonna tie
them down, at least not now!)