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21 Aug

Ep. 115 – Ben Harris – Recording Artist & Musician

“So yeah, that’s how I stay motivated. Like, it’s nothing, like it’s an achievement, so I just totally put it in my pocket, keep stacking them up, like you said, just kind of like checkers, slowly, slowly, slowly. Because that’s where it is. I’m trying to do this as long as I possibly can, I’m not trying to win and get everything next week, get a grammy, get the mansion, get everything in my dreams, just to get complacent. You know.”

Ben Harris – Recording Artist & Musician; Opening act for Terry Fator; Knowing his passion since 8; Creating your own opportunities in the music industry


Segment 1: (Length :04:00) – General Updates; Introduction to Ben Harris and his journey as an entertainer and entrepreneur in the music industry; Knowing his passion since he was 8; Not listening to the career counselors; Consistency and determination.

Ben’s finer points:

I've been around a microphone my entire life, and now every night still, and in the studio, and at the show, so yeah I love it.

“Man, as far as I can remember, probably seven or eight years old, I’m like, we had a little home video camera, and my mom would be off to work so I would just be at home, I’d be making my own music videos, just playing award shows with Usher or Ginuwine, and I’d be dancing, and MC Hammer and Kris Kross.”

“I’d put on outfits, I’d take pictures, I’d even put together cut-up, back when tapes, where they’re not even CDs yet, I’d cut up and make my own CDs with my picture on the cover, and then put my name on it like the whole album. My mom be like, you don’t even have any songs or any music on this. I be like, I know, but I will sometime. And I’d just have the tape in my pocket, and all that.”

And then I’d be visiting my dad, ’cause we’d be in Indiana, so there was no outlets. I’m actually the only minority, I’m half black half white. So it was cool with me, ’cause they all loved me, I was the one that was dancing, I was listening to hip hop, I was putting on all the new stuff.”

So when I would come back from Phoenix to be with my dad, there was BET, you know, MTV, but we didn't even have that... It's a small town in Indiana, we didn't have cable. So I'd be recording all the music videos all day in the summer. Then I'd come back for the whole rest of the year, I'd just practice and mimic all the music videos I had been watching all day.

“So then I’m like ten, twelve, and I keep doing this. Then one of my tapes that I’d be recording got leaked around … Kind of like the internet video would get leaked, but literally hand to hand, all the girls and all my friends were passing it around.”

“Look what Ben be doing, look what Ben be doing, this is crazy. ‘Cause in Indiana, you’re either going to work on a farm or you’re going to work at the steel mill or … No one really has plans of getting out of there. But since I was visiting my dad, I knew there was a bigger world out there.”

“I was trying to explain to them, no, you’ll see, I’m going to be doing this big. They didn’t want to hate on it. They were like, cool, that’s cool, you’re the one that is out of Ladoga, out of Montgomery County, like, dude, we’re all behind you, go get it.'”

So then, I moved to Phoenix, and I finished high school out there. So I'm like 16, I move to Phoenix. My brother figured out somehow how to record his voice on my dad's stereo in our living room using like a karaoke system, so it'd muffle the words on a song, then we'd plug in a microphone through the headphone jack and somehow it would record it. I remember that first time, we were like, what, we can record our voice on this? Then it was over.

“So, like, I’m 16, every single day, coming home after school, recording, and then my brother and I found out how to put that on a tape, and then again, since I had already been doing it with no music on it, I started making covers, walking around campus, passing them out.”

“I finished high school. So, like, no one even noticed, ’cause I don’t even talk about it. I just always knew where I was going. That’s what we were talking about from the beginning. I knew, even as a small eight-year-old where I was going to go, and it was kind of weird, people will be talking about, what are going to do after school, when I’m in high school, what are you going to do?'”

“I wouldn’t even listen to those counselors who would try to … the career advisors, I would just be sitting there telling them what I’m going to do, and they’d be like, ‘That’s nice, we all have dreams, alright, what kind of classes do you like taking,’ all this stuff.”

I'm like, no, for real, this is what I'm going to do. Both my parents were very successful civil engineers, so they always wanted me to do that route. They liked me staying out of trouble, rapping and everything with my friends, but they didn't really take is serious. So then I was like telling them, no, this is what I want to do.

“So, when I got to ASU, I actually had to go undecided ’cause they wanted me to go into engineering and architecture, but they obviously don’t have a career path if you want to be an entertainer or a hip hop artist, there’s no classes for that. So then I was like, man I’m not feeling this architecture, so I would just walk around campus.”

“I got a really good story about how I was making this happen. So. I got this job at Channel 8, and I was a freshman. My whole career, I didn’t borrow one dollar, it was all off of me, myself, no help, no investors, where I got here.”

“So, I would be doing master control. And now it sounds really cool, I liked having all the girls and everyone on campus, master control, but really all it meant is I’m flipping from the TV show on Channel 8 to the commercial, and from the commercial back to the TV show, that’s all I’m doing do is hitting two buttons for like a five hour shift.”

“So, I would hit play, I was like, yeah Sesame Street come on, it’s 8:00, I hit play, I sneak out . . .But I knew I had 50 good minutes. So I would walk around, just aimlessly, I knew I wanted to be performing and blow up as an artist to show everyone that I am doing what I said I was doing since I was like eight. Then I’d end up in this building, I’d just go up in this random office, like, hey I’m trying to perform on campus, who do I talk to.

They're like hold up, not us, we're the math department, you gotta go over here. And I'd go over here, and I'm like, hey what's up, I'm trying to perform over here, I got this little CD in my hand I just recorded in my dorm, where do I set that up? Well, obviously you gotta be signed, you gotta have a phone, you gotta have pictures, you gotta ...

“I’m like, okay, I’ll go take some pictures. Take some pictures with my camera in my dorm with my friends, we put a little album cover together. And then we’re passing that around. Alright, here’s the pictures, the CD, where do I go? Well, no, you have to have … you know, you gotta go through this, you got a manager? Just, no, who do I talk to?”

“Every single morning when I would play that show, I would walk up to the place. I finally found where it was, that put on the shows on campus, and I would walk up there every morning to the office I would see the same lady. Like, here he goes again. It was ASU’s program activities board. Here he goes again, with his CD, asking if he’s going to perform on campus. And I’m talking like a full semester.”

“Yeah, yeah, that’d be cool, but you gotta understand, you know, we’re trying to get, like the Roots and all this. Yeah, yeah, cool, whatever. And then, finally, he’s like, hey we had a cancellation, one of the mornings I came up. You want to do an hour and a half on the set. I’m like, an hour and a half? I would love to!”

Segment 2: (Length :08:00) – Talking with Ben Harris; Making opportunities happen; Using every platform for his work; Stacking wins; Embracing the marathon and not the sprint.

Ben’s finer points:

“So then I got a whole bunch of my homies together. You know, I was like, hey you guys be rapping, you want to do a couple songs? You guys want to do a couple songs? You want to do this? So, without even knowing it, I had found out how to book and put together my own show, just simply by myself, just walking around, just knowing what I wanted to happen, and it finally happened.”

“Then, from there, as old green eyes, I started performing, then everyone was catching on. Then I just became, like, the artist of the school. Almost, like, yeah the dude, the light-skinned dude that be rappin’, yeah.”

“So, now that I’m the rapping dude, but I’m still going to these classes where all we’re doing is like reading news. And I was good, I was the only male anchor. You know, I put the curl, I put the gel in my hair, I put a little blue jacket on, and I could talk proper, and I was doing the news every morning, too.”

Just 'cause I knew what I wanted to be but there was no classes or programs for it. So I got creative, I found out ways to do what I wanted to do through these programs.

“So even though all I was supposed to do was put on a jacket and make my hair look nice and read the news every morning, I found out how to shoot a music video and write my own theme song, and now they’re playing that all the time. And it would fade into me doing the news.”

“So I’m like, look ya’ all, I told you I’m doing what I’m doing, you’re seeing it happen, all the teachers told me that it can’t happen over here.”

“So then I go down to the radio station, and I’m like, hey this just so happens that I need to be getting this extra credit type stuff, and I’m supposed to like intern or do something at this radio station. They’re like, ‘yeah, what do you want to do?’ I was like, ‘well I want to have my own radio station, I’ll just call it the Hot Shot, you know, serving up nothing but heat, make it a hip hop show.’ This is crazy. I looked so confident when I was ready, they’re like, ‘Well are you free tonight? There’s a slot.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll be here tonight.'”

“So I go in to do my radio show, that I got it instantly just by the way I came in and told them that’s what I wanted to do, I guess, and I had already the songs, the TV. My name started buzzing a little bit, so they’re like, yeah you should host one, you’re the dude that be rappin’ around campus.

So I get in there, I was clueless. I didn't even know what the board did or anything. Luckily the guy, the student that had the show before me, he's like walking out, and I'm like, 'Hey, can you show me how to start the show.'

“He’s like, why, what are you doing? I’m like, I’m supposed to do the next hour, it’s my show. Man you don’t know what you’re doing? So, shout out to this dude, he just stayed back, he told me how to like fade it, how to punch in and talk, and how to play music. I was like, that’s all I need, thank you so much.'”

“So I used every platform that I could, just to get my music out and become an artist. And I told all those teachers and professors, I’m going to find a way to get to where I’m going and using all these resources on campus. Maybe not the way you want me to use them in class, but outside of class, I got busy. And I made it happen.”

So I've never had to show anyone my degree. I earned it, I got good grades, and I went to class and everything. But man the real degree I earned was the minute I stepped out of class until the minute I stepped back in to class and all that time I was just basically forming my own record label by myself, which I still am doing to this day.

“This music, the marathon’s what got me winning, because I just understand the distance along the length.”

“Every year, I’m not signed … That’s not even the goal now, by what I’m been doing recently, at first it might have been. But every year I’m doing the same thing at a 45 degree angle of progress, just constantly moving up. I’m not trying to jump up real quick, just to drop down real quick.”

“I’m jus going to keep gradually rising, keep gradually rising, keep gradually rising, ’till I … Man, we been hearing this dude for the last 15 years, it’s about time, he deserves it. No one’s going to be like, overnight, he didn’t put in the work. They’re all going to be like, about time, I was wondering what happened to him, yeah, that’s that dude.”

“So yeah, that’s how I stay motivated. Like, it’s nothing, like it’s an achievement, so I just totally put it in my pocket, keep stacking them up, like you said, just kind of like checkers, slowly, slowly, slowly. Because that’s where it is. I’m trying to do this as long as I possibly can, I’m not trying to win and get everything next week, get a grammy, get the mansion, get everything in my dreams, just to get complacent. You know.”

Segment 3: (Length :10:00) – Not making excuses; Mentorship; How you use your time; Uplifting souls

Ben’s finer points:

“I have this cool little hook I did that kind of sums just to know where you’re going, ’cause you don’t really know where you’re going, you just going wherever you can, but it’s where you’re headed, as long as you know where that end goal is, you can’t make any wrong turns. It’s kind of like Google maps, your dreams will re-route themselves to get to where you’re going.”

“All these excuses, a lot of people don’t or why they’re not on, they don’t make any sense, you can make it. Especially now, you can use your phone, you can use anything. I didn’t even have all that technology back then.”

A lot of people don't want to take those opportunities. Well, I can't rap because I don't have a studio. Well I just used the money I used at work to buy a $15 mic from Best Buy and the cheapest program to record myself at the time was maybe $20. So right there, $35 I was in my dorm recording myself.

“And I didn’t have even, I couldn’t post up at Tweet a link. I’m physically in my room all day, burning these CDs, printing until my ink ran out, walking around campus with a backpack full of them. Like, hey what’s up, do you like music? Hey, check this out. It’s a lot easier today. It’s good that I put in all that work, to know to not take it for granted how simple it is maybe to just post up a link now.”

“I started a long time ago, in high school just with a pure passion every day, that’s how we knew what we … what I wanted to do, what we all … It’s funny because, I have these kids come over, and they may have excuses, oh they can’t record stuff. But I just like seeing their face the first time I can make their voice sound good on a microphone, and they’re so excited.”

“And then they’re looking around at my studio and my house and my beautiful wife and new baby, and like, it’s possible, we can do this.”

“‘Cause they’re just graduating high school, so they’re all panicked, what am I going to do, I need a job, and I really want to be a rapper, that’s what I really want to be … And they’re looking at me, like, it’s possible. And I’m looking at them, like, I’m nowhere near where I’m trying to go, but yeah, I guess, this is a nice studio, yeah this is one of the best microphones, yeah you’re right. So, we kind of help each other out, but I also show them without telling them that it’s possible, and if they make excuses I just don’t even listen to them, like, alright, whatever. Yeah, I don’t even listen to excuses, I just show them by action that it can happen.”

“I got so driven when I finally moved out to Phoenix and saw opportunities, where my brother was able to record us on the mic, it’s ’cause probably I had a chip on my shoulder visiting from the very small town of Ladoga, where no one even listened to hip hop, or cared to move out of there, or even knew about a big city in general.”

“So, when I would visit my dad, I’d be so upset about the people with attitude or if someone was walking with their mom, yelling, I’m like, you guys are so lucky to be living out here in this city where there’s multiple races, multiple music, so much opportunity. It’s like my Hollywood I was seeing, like the big dream, from Ladoga, Indiana.”

“So, when I finally got to move out there, I didn’t take no chance. I was like, are you guys crazy, we’re out here, we gotta move, this is our chance. So where other people may have had the same dreams that always lived in Phoenix and always had the opportunities, they’re like, yeah whatever, it ain’t nothing, it ain’t Hollywood, and all this. I’m like, no, you don’t get it, we gotta get busy.”

You gotta go all in, and basically it just comes down to the hours you have free during the day. I still have the show every night, so I understand, I can't be too tired, or dragged in. So I know when I'm at home, I gotta use every single hour I possibly can to go 100%.

“Because in the studio, it’s just me. So I’m like my publisher, I’m hitting up movie directors, I’m sending songs straight to TV commercials, licensing. I’m doing my artwork, I’m making it available. I’m using TuneCore, and all these different things to put it out everywhere. I’m basically every team mate, every day.”

“And then when I go to the show, I’m uplifting souls, which I love to do. It’s a whole different area of entertainment. It’s not me recording or writing by myself in the studio. Then I turn in to an entertainer, engaging with every single person that comes into the crowd, I make eye contact, I make them smile, I make their kids have the best night of their life, I make sure they get a good picture, I might throw them a piece of merch.”

“And then that together, so it’s like my hustle grind all day, and then at night, I get to be relieved and feel freedom. Like Nina Simone said, freedom is just like being free, you know and all that. I love that on stage and everything ever night. Just make sure you’re using every single time and amount and hour that you possibly can, and don’t waste it on your dream. And you’ll start seeing it come true.

“Segment 4: (Length :03:00) – Hustler Thought of the Day:

Success comes to those who dedicate everything to their passion in life. To be successful, it is also very important to be humble and never let fame or money travel to your head. - A.R. Rahman



Ben Harris – Recording Artist & Musician

As a child growing up in Ladoga, IN (population under 1000) with his mother Cheryl, Harris would visit his father Kenny every summer in the big city of Phoenix, AZ. It was there he quickly gained a strong fascination with music videos and has been working ever since to becoming a respected performer/recording artist himself. Now performing regularly with one of the biggest shows on the Las Vegas strip, Harris is still just getting started.

Ben officially started his professional career in entertainment while completing his degree in Broadcasting at Arizona State University. He not only hosted his own radio and television shows on campus, but also networked between classes finding ways to perform his music when and wherever he could (under the alias Ol’ Green Eyes).

Eventually he would be heard around town earning an undefeated rap battle title on Phoenix’s #1 radio station and opening up for major artist like Lil’ Wayne, Justin Timberlake, Usher, and Snoop Dogg.

Immediately after graduation, Ben helped create the hip hop/dance band ENVY. As the house band at the world famous Barcelona Nightclub in North Scottsdale, AZ. Envy performed for thousands of Arizona partygoers every week. Harris quickly became known as the energy or “sizzle” to the group and used his passion of performing to engage crowds of all demographics. That energy was the key factor on landing the band a deal to play in Vegas regularly.

Ben quickly used this move to his advantage landing a spot in one of the hottest shows on the Las Vegas strip. Ben now amazes over 1200 screaming fans every night as the opening act of The Terry Fator Show at The Mirage.

Still unsigned, Ben Harris works hard to earn rotation in clubs and on radio taking his solo show, backed by his live band, all over the Vegas strip as well as on the road performing at various nightclubs and other large venues around the country.  While not on stage he is recording and mixing himself in his own home studio.  Something he has done since his Dad’s living room. He also writes songs and theme songs for licensing and other artists in any genre.

Check out Ben’s SoundCloud HERE |  Social for John: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter



Matt Gottesman

Matt Gottesman is a global digital strategist and technology advisor, creator and editor-in-chief of Hustle & Deal Flow™ - an online magazine dedicated to the world's entrepreneurs, creators and makers, a Social Media Influencer and a consultant on New Media and go-to-market strategies for investments in digital marketing, technology, websites, mobile applications, eCommerce, social media and content.

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