Get to know the accomplished individuals who will present at the annual TEDxGreenville conference on April 8th! In this new series of blog posts, writer Jennifer Oladipo asks some compelling questions.
Performer Benjamin Starr was nominated as a top hip-hop artist for 2015 by the national blog Very Smart Brothers. He uses this art form to entertain, educate, and inspire.
What was the last idea, big or small, that you thought was an idea worth sharing?
It was about the true balance of masculine and feminine forces, and the necessity for both. In my eyes, after a lot of maturation, that balance — or the freedom to have the option of that balance — is a key to true equality. I don’t want to live in a world dominated by men, seen through only their eyes, and catering only their tendencies. Nor do I want to live in a world where the same can be said for women; I need balance. I want to listen, more than I speak in order to gain that understanding of what is outside of my everyday experience. I want to have emotional fluidity, and not harbor unhealthy feelings because of stigmas around what is considered to be the standards of masculinity. This idea is simply rooted in understanding, vision and humility.
The theme really caught my eye. My music is usually about self reflection, seriously influenced by everything that happens around me; connecting the outer and the inner. It’s a colorful experience of highs, lows, stories and emotions — relating to people of different genders, and races. That theme, in a place like South Carolina, which isn’t always the most progressive place, drew me in to the exact audience I’d enjoy presenting to directly.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in people, music, stories, interactions, etc. To me it’s all rooted in my emotions. These things conjure up my emotions in different ways, and forces me to create in order to express those emotions honestly.
What is the next frontier for the human race?
Equality. True equality. We still haven’t gotten there yet at all.
Did you choose hip-hop or did hip-hop choose you?
I think we may have chosen one another. Everything that happened to me from childhood, through adolescence seems to have prepared me to express myself this way.
Being black, in America, in South Carolina, in poverty, experiencing the sting of losing loved ones close to me for various different reasons — yet being able to find an outlet in music and also in writing, since the age of 6 — played a big part in keeping me alive and productive. This allowed me to see hip-hop and what it offered me, in the purest way.
On the flip side, I’m from such a small town, such a blip on the map, I can’t even say we are forgotten as much as I can say we are never known, abandoned, an afterthought. I think that in itself, also, allowed hip-hop to see me and what I could offer it, in the purest way as well. We fit.
For more information about Kaleidoscope speakers and performers, visit our 2016 presenter page, where extended bios are available. To attend the April 8th event at the Kroc Center in Greenville, SC, visit tedxgreenville.com/tickets. A sellout is expected, but if you’re unable to join us in person, watch our Facebook page for details about the free live feed.
Stay informed about all things TEDxGreenville:
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