It does not take much skill set or genius marketing these days for an artist to acquire fame and prestige. Post a nude picture on social media or record music lacking depth and substance and the artist literally becomes part of hip-hop’s Walking Dead. Get it? “I do not think we have to be as talented as in the past. With technology like Auto Tune, any artist can sound good,” states the Chicago artist with much potential equipped with image and branding to maximize artistic success.
He is Pennjamin Bannekar, the LL Cool J of Chicago music without the Kangol hat, gold chains, and muscles. Not to confuse him for a sucker. His artistry is to be taken seriously. He creates music for the fellas and has a huge female fanbase that are head over heels for him. Perhaps it is his suave charismatic nature, babyface appeal, commanding stage presence, microphone control with soul, and a unique stage name that rivals the competitive artistic pool.
“I was always known as Penn when I started rapping. I was later given the stage name Pennjamin Bannekar; a name I scorned when I was part of the [Chicago hip-hop trio] Project: Fr3sh,” uttered the artist. Benjamin Banneker was an African American author, mathematician, and astronomer. “I got creative by changing the spelling of the famous African American historical figure’s name to make it more suitable and appropriate to [my artistry],” highlighted Pennjamin Bannekar. He is a huge history buff and, “Wanted to pay reverence to Benjamin Banneker.”
Besides his interesting stage name, Pennjamin Bannekar’s moniker adlib makes him distinguished. Jadakiss is known for his raspy voice and baby laugh and Diddy is known for his “take that” marque on records. For Pennjamin, it is his signature catchphrase, “Hey, Well Alright!” He adds, “The inspiration came from J. Cole’s Friday Night Lights. I would hear Cole adlib “Hey!” I liked it!” He does not know where “Well Alright” derived. “The words seemed to organically fit together. I have been running with it since.”
Besides a creative stage name and adlib comes an inimitable album title. “The album is simplistically titled 1/11 because it dropped on my birthday,” said an enthusiastic Pennjamin. For the album to be titled as such and to be released on his born day must be of great significance. “The numbers 1/11 have meaning behind it. They imply whatever I focus on will eventually come true.” He adds, “Things in my life tend to manifest whether positive or negative. I can sometimes be my own obstacle.” The title of the album is a, “Constant reminder to remain positive during chaotic times.”
Pennjamin Bannekar, just like any artist, needed to perfect his work in order for it to be properly delivered on a special occasion like this. “I worked on it for nearly two years. It was only right to push the date to January.” He goes in detail about the recording process of 1/11. “I used an old I-phone to play the music and hum melodies when recording this album. Once I got the melody to [precision], I went to the studio to expound on it some more.” If the song is seamless, “I write and record to it and come to Chicago producer J. Hill’s studio for mixing.” If the song is not to his liking, “I leave it as is or it gets [discarded].” Forty songs were recorded and only eight appear on 1/11. “It is all about feeling, praise, and how people responded that determined which songs made the final cut,” explains Pennjamin Bannekar.
The album is unlike the rest of his discography. “My debut solo album Heartbeat was released after Project: Fr3sh went their separate ways [to pursue other interests]. I was trying to prove myself and to the world I can rap and be able to stand on my own as an artist.” His [sophomore] album Paper Plane Pilots is his Kanye West’s 808’s & Heartbreak. “It was therapeutic for me to record this album as I was getting over a serious relationship that did not work out.” With 1/11, “I wanted to make music for people to vibe out to and feel good.”
Pennjamin Bannekar does not necessarily deem himself as a hip-hop artist. “I rap but I am more into making [illustrious] music ranging from singing to rapping not only for myself but for other artists.” He elucidates, “Other artists may be skillful in the art of rap and that is great.” He is not in competition with anyone but him. “I am trying to be the best me- Pennjamin Bannekar. There will be artists that want to emulate my style of rap just like many try to impersonate Future and his melodic style of music.”
In the end, he wants to be remembered for his contributions in music. “When the public hear of Chicago, I want for them to compare me to the greats like Kanye West.” Long live Pennjamin Bannekar!
Pennjamin Bannekar continues his interview with journalist Hector De La Rosa as he discusses each song concept on his latest offering 1/11.
This is the first song on the album and the last song I recorded. It is considered the Birthday theme song. If a celebrity like Diddy throws me a party, I would tell him to play this song as I make my grand entrance to the place where the party is held.
This song contains a sample from The Notorious BIG’s classic “Juicy” Here, I started to sing to the melody for no particular reason. The song’s concept descends from a Saturday night experience at Dave & Busters with a good friend of mine. We kicked it, played video games, and had great conversation. Next day, I made a song based on this experience. Though, I wrote the song as if I were on a date night with a woman.
Don’t Say That
I got creative with this record spitting a hot sixteen on the mic after hearing the production to this song. The song showcases my lyrical [agility] at best. I used to listen to a team of people tell me whether or not to address a certain issue on a particular song. Either the song was too real or sensitive for listeners. In this case, I decided to block what everyone had to say and perfected a blazing record.
Money Drop featuring D2G
This is the baller’s anthem for individuals who get direct deposit on payday and not having to deal with adulting or paying bills. The feeling of having money left over in the bank account is a great feeling. The money left over can be used on shopping sprees to buy Nikes.
I recorded this song a year ago. It is my Kanye West “Jesus Walks” type of record that touches on those who believe in God and are spiritual. Though, do not necessarily attend church. I happened to be one of those individuals. People make excuses not to attend church service, perhaps being too long or it takes away their time from watching Sunday NFL Football. This is my interpretation.
-Hector De La Rosa
After a 2017 that saw Pennjamin Bannekar secure placements with upcoming YouTube Red TV Shows and writing Dhniera Blu’s solo debut, Pennjamin Bannekar opens up 2018 with the release of his 1/11 EP for listeners everywhere! The 8 song EP features the lead single, “Alter Prayer” and features appearances by Dhniera Blu, D2G and longtime collaborator J. Hill. The EP features production from KiingR, BobbyMadeTheBeat, Canis Major, Kenneth English and more! 1/11 is available on Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal and all other major music streaming services!
In coordination with Easter Sunday, Penn(@PennBannekar) has released the music video for “Alter Prayer“. The video features appearances from Dhniera Blu, and J. Hill while Alexander King is behind the lens. Alter Prayer is the first release from Penn’s Apparently Transparent EP that will be releasing on all digital outlets in June!
After being featured on many hip hop artists hooks and songs, Dhniera Blu(@DhnieraBlu) is ready to step out on her own with her brand new single “Surprise U“. This is the first release from her EP, Blu Sessions which is scheduled to release in the Spring of 2017!
Penn(@PennBannekar) has released his latest visual “Bodies” featuring Dhniera Blu from his Paper Plane Pilots album! The video was shot and directed by Alexander King.
While he puts the finishing touches on the “Bodies” video, Penn(@PennBannekar) has released a brand new single entitled “Love & Hip Hop” featuring Tiyana Payne! The song was produced by Flawless Tracks.
Penn(@PennBannekar) has released his latest visual “Congratulations” from his Paper Plane Pilots album! The song was produced by the Fr3shmen and the video was directed by Alexander King. Follow Penn on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram for all of the latest news regarding #PaperPlanePilots!
Pennjamin Banneker(@PennBannekar) makes a great contribution to Hip Hop releasing his new album Paper Plane Pilots featuring Taylor Mallory, Lokachiran, Dhniera Blu, Felly the Voice, Jessica Louise and Runway Bella. This is an incredible body of work from start to finish, truly an album that should be pushed in our upcoming year. I appreciate the melodic production and the smooth lyrics. The album opens with “Word” where the emcee recites “You can’t stop the shine Im a beam over here” the line is so clever in a day where many people wish for the downfall of others. Penn definitely opened his album declaring that he will follow his dreams regardless of any circumstance. The album then moves to the song “Remote Control” and, I thought it was cool to hear the static of the television in the intro before Penn goes into a fast flow. The hook on this record is extremely catchy. Its one of those songs that will have listeners replaying before moving on to the rest of the album.
The next song “Penn & Paper” is another goodie a collaboration that has the ability to be on radio. Up next “Kill Button” pure excellence, the first couple of seconds reminded me of the 90’s golden era of Hip Hop. I do wish the female call and response was used throughout the song. Moving forward to “Bodies” Penn raps on a dark hip hop production with soulful vocals from Dhniera Blu. The very moment “Likes” began to play I knew it was going to be one of my favorites, this sort of production is when one can see if an emcee can actually rap; and Penn destroys the beat with ease. “Thief” is an addictive record as well the hook is so smooth and Felly’s vocals were perfect.
“Like We’re Broken Up” is where I hear Penn’s Atlanta influences, this song gives you the spring time in Georgia feeling; a perfect song to drive to while your heading to College Park. The album ends with the songs “Here’s What I Think About U”, “Light it Up”, “Congratulations” and “Pennji”. Paper Plane Pilots receives 5 stars the highest rating because its original, Penn could of taken the overly used route and used random base heavy beats and club sounds. Instead he created a Hip Hop product that people can still dance to but he’s actually showing that his pen can create some of the best lyrics of 2015.
Penn(@PennBannekar) has released his Paper Plane Pilots album for listeners everywhere! The 12 song album features production from Flawless Tracks, !llmind, SuperstaarBeats, Canis Major and celebrated Chicago producers The Fr3shmen. Penn has previously released videos for “Word“, “Thief“, and “Likes” in preparation for the album’s release.