Bo Beniz has a flow so ice cold that he’d undoubtedly freeze—if he wasn’t already the coldest. This explains why he’s dressed for arctic verbal war, not bothering to remove his navy blue pea coat, black hoodie and skull cap before stepping inside the recording booth to lay down adlibs for his track, “Easy,” for his forthcoming album. On the chorus, he taunts competitors with, “This is waaaaaay to EASY!” and from the outside looking in, it appears to be just that.
All the makings for success fall in line like a great game of chess for this 26-year-old artist on a mission to change and takeover the rap game simultaneously. Peep the credentials: Charm and charisma like LL? Check. Swagger like Diddy? Check. Business savvy like Jay-Z? Check. Been shot up like 50? Check. A flow like no other in the game? Checkmate. “All I know is, I do me and you can’t not like me. I’m me,” he chuckles with a presidential, mega-watt grin. “Bo Beniz is great!”
Today, Bo Beniz, born Boaz McGee, is uber confident about his rap skills, but this hasn’t always been the case. He remembers growing up a fan of hip hop, writing original rhymes as early as sixth grade and idolizing the southern style of Cash Money and Outkast, but he didn’t begin to take himself and a career in music seriously until he was 16. “I realize that’s when I fell in love. Ever since then I couldn’t stop,” he recalls.
Entering the industry as one-half of the Harvey Allbangers produced duo, Bo & Logik, Bo Beniz has come a long way from his early days of performing. “I was nervous as all get out,” he shares about his first live performance in 2002 with rap partner Logik, “but something in my mind told me I was the best and I still feel that way to this day,” he says laughing. Bo & Logik performed at Chicago’s legendary House of Blues five times and is the only independent hip hop act to headline. Their debut mixtape, Finally, received spins from Chicago’s top radio stations and DJs and spawned crowd favorites such as “Sweet Home Chicago” and “Show Her the World.” Getting House of Blues was a dream fulfilled and now as a solo artist, managed by music industry veteran and owner of The Music Experience, Dedry Jones, Bo Beniz is right on track to realize his dream of putting other Chicago artists on the map.
As CEO of GO Sity Entertainment, Bo Beniz is committed to giving Chicago artists a chance to shine. In March 2009, Bo Beniz and GO Sity Entertainment produced The Chicago Hip Hop Classic, a concert and music symposium featuring only Chicago talent. “Chicago is long overdue for a breakthrough in hip hop music, where the entire music community embraces and recognizes local talent,” says Bo Beniz about the inspiration for creating The Chicago Hip Hop Classic. In addition to having the support of music lovers, industry executives and local businesses, The Classic even caught the attention of established hip-hop notables like Grammy Award-winning artist Rhymefest, who opened the show.
Since June 2008, The GO Sity produced Crowd Control Concert Series has been featuring many of Chicago’s underground and independent hip hop acts. The series, which takes place the third Saturday of the month in the heart of Bronzeville at the Spoken Word Cafe, is half open mic and half feature acts, showcasing local talent like Jak Frost, Twone Gabz, Co-Still and GO Sity Entertainment artist, Polie Da Great. Winners of the Apollo-style open mic pre-show win recording time and a large trophy, a coveted prize for many of the young performers who have never won anything in their lives.
Growing up on Chicago’s South Side—the “low end” near 47th & King Drive where he holds his popular event—Bo Beniz knows exactly what it feels like to long for winning in life. “I was what they call a disadvantaged youth,” says Bo. As a young man, he associated himself with the bad boys and hustling didn’t only describe his drive, but his way of living and making money. In 1998, the realities of life caught up with him when he was shot nine times at close range (in what he found out years later was a case of mistaken identity). The bullet wounds are still visible in various places throughout his body, including a near fatal blow barely missing his heart, but unlike most rappers, he doesn’t wear his scars with vain pride. “I don’t feel extra gangsta because I got shot up. I kind of feel like a victim,” he shares. “It didn’t make me a super thug because I got shot. It made me realize that [lifestyle] wasn’t the way to go and I’ve got some different things to do and pursue.”
Through his GO Sity for Youth after school program, Bo Beniz shares this wisdom with youth to hopefully turn their minds around and inspire them. “I come from where they come from—the low end. They see I’m still in the area, but my situation has changed totally.” The students in his program learn about various aspects of the music industry, along with some real-talk life lessons. When he’s not focused on challenging his artists and students to be better, he’s focused on challenging himself.
Bo Beniz is the architect of Chicago’s hip hop renaissance, building opportunities for Chicago talent to do what they love and be recognized at home…and the world. “Jay-Z is my motivation,” says Bo.” He’s doing it so big and setting the bar so high, but eventually, somebody gotta come and shut him down. I want to be him. Not Jay-Z; the guy who shuts him down.”
There’s no doubt that Bo Beniz is just that guy. From dealing illegal business to the masses, to delivering lyrical dopamine to move the masses, Bo Beniz knows exactly how to give the people what they crave. “I’m slowly but surely realizing I can fly and I’ll be that guy soon.”