The Local 913: Benji.


“It’s not depressing, I promise you, it’s not depressing. It’s just, you know, things happen and I smile at the end of it because you live through 100% of your worst days. So, here I am.”

That’s Pittsburgh rapper Benji., whose new album Smile You’re Alive, marks his transition from his previous moniker Courtesy. After thinking it over for a long time, the artist decided to change his stage name to reflect something more personal. 

“My mom always called me Benji. It actually annoyed me for a long time, it was embarrassing. She would call me it in front of all my friends. I’m the baby boy, so you gotta give the baby boy a cute little nickname. My middle name is Benjamin, so she said “Benji.” There you go. What’s funny is that my real name is Ian and now everyone that ever has ever known me as Ian now calls me Benji, as if that was my name from the jump.” 

Benji. and his siblings, including his brother local producer and DJ Christo, grew up with two music-loving parents. 

“My parents would always play music in the house ranging from Earth, Wine and Fire to the Gap Band to Larry Graham and Graham Central Station. It fits me and my style, it’s very uppity and up-tempo. It made sense to bring my influences into what I do. Thundercat is probably my favorite artist of all time. He’s a bass player, I play the bass, as well. The way he’s able to create with his bass, playing it like a guitar, but on the basis of soul… I don’t know… I love funk music, it’s like my bread and butter.”

Benji’s new album, Smile You’re Alive is out May 24th and more info is at his SoundCloud. 

Photo by Redd Vision.