Benjamin Bell, known professionally as Born Leader and formerly B-Eazy, is an American artist, writer, and author. Starting a record label imprint in 2013 then subsequently releasing his indie debut album “Born Leader: The Return” the following year, Born Leader has not only shown the ability to make great music, but the desire to make an impact and develop opportunities for others beyond music. Upon the release of “Born Leader: The Return,” Benjamin went on a year-long indie grind releasing numerous music videos, doing live performances, and selling physical copies to whoever would take a chance on listening. At the end of 2015 “Work Hard, Expect Nothing” was released, a five track EP project further cementing his uniqueness as an artist and his will to continue despite the odds stacked against him personally and professionally. Truly summing up what it means to be an artist, Born Leader has painted pictures of his life, faith, thoughts, and experiences in an attempt to positively change the narrative of his local area and to influence the world at large.
Around different genres of music from an early age, Benjamin’s appreciation for the art form was developed almost immediately. Listening to R&B, Soul, & Pop at the outset and then getting his first taste of Hip Hop in 1991 with Kool Moe Dee’s “Funke, Funke Wisdom,” his experiences with music was organic, woven into the fabric of everyday life. Even at the age of seven (7) he was a fan of the music, enamored with the beats and feel and memorizing songs he heard on the radio with ease. At the age of 12 he wrote his first song entitled “Everyday Life,” an inspirational song about the good and bad of daily life. A year later, being a huge fan of Mase and his “Harlem World” album at the time, he performed the hit “Feel So Good” at his middle school’s talent show, eliciting a crowd of his peers and even getting a write up in the hometown newspaper.
After performing in the talent show and getting positive feedback from everyone, Benjamin was feeling good, but at the time a career in music seemed far-fetched for a 13 year old. Putting music to the side, he began to focus on sports, particularly basketball, as he already enjoyed achievements in football and baseball years earlier. Over the next several years a myriad of personal, family issues beyond his control got in the way, forcing him to relocate to different cities and schools, hindering his dream of playing professional sports and causing him to forget about his passion of music entirely.
After graduating high school and with no concrete plans for college, Benjamin got a job as a nutrition aid at a nursing home facility. It was here, of all places, that his passion for music resurfaced. A co-worker eager to pass the time while working, began to freestyle rap everyday to have fun and lighten the mood. It didn’t take too long for Benjamin to join in. Another co-worker who was into music more seriously encouraged him to rap with him, helping to sharpen his skills and songwriting. In 2006 he recorded his first song entitled “Clap Ya Hands.” Along with recording the song and rapping with his friend, a music career seemed likely, but unfortunately the duo would fizzle out due to creative differences, causing him to start at ground zero again.
After a few trying years Benjamin, now 27, returned to music at the beginning of 2012 with the mindset of “now or never.” He hit the studio and recorded 10 original songs, putting out a project meant as a mixtape/demo of sorts. Although he recorded a batch of songs and put together a project, he still had a long ways to go and a lot to learn about recording and just how serious he wanted to take his music. The project was well received by a few, but largely went unnoticed due to poor quality. Feeling all kinds of different emotions, he deemed his next effort would be far better and worked hard to prove himself worthy of being taken serious. Born Leader: Return, a full length album released under his newly established company Time Now Records, came in 2014. Getting a better response overall but still feeling like the return on his investments was minimal, he pondered quitting music again, as at other times.
The months following proved pivotal, as Benjamin shifted his focus from thinking about people and things beyond his control to just music. Work Hard, Expect Nothing – EP came in late 2015, a 5 track project touching on a range of topics, from personal disappointment and acceptance to the current climate of racism and police brutality which dominated headlines at the time.
Months after the release of Work Hard, Expect Nothing, feeling burnt out from being an artist and handling all the business aspects which go in to owning a company, Benjamin decided to pull the plug on his label and just focus on being an artist and creative. With new music, videos, his first book on the horizon, and finally with a clear understanding on what he needs to do for his own happiness and fulfillment, it’s feeling like a rebirth of sorts for the artist known as Born Leader.