Cole Bennett Is About to Start a New Chapter. But First, He’s Doing the Unprecedented

Cole Bennett is breaking new ground with his Lyrical Lemonade album 'All Is Yellow.' He tells Complex about the album and talks about recent videos with Lil Yachty, Ken Carson, Justin Bieber, and more.

Photo by Matthew Revilla

Cole Bennett is a philosophical guy.

If you talk with him long enough, he’ll invariably start throwing out little nuggets of existential wisdom mid-conversation. “Just have fun,” he tells me on an early December afternoon in New York. “Disregard everything else. Nothing matters that much. We're gonna die one day, just put shit out.”

The 27-year-old director and founder of Lyrical Lemonade has been thinking a lot about his place in the world lately. He’s been reconsidering how he wants to spend his time, rethinking where he's focusing his energy, and figuring out how he can free himself up to be closer with family. 

After a decade of relentlessly directing and editing hundreds of music videos for stars like Juice WRLD, Lil Yachty, Drake, Ski Mask The Slump God, Justin Bieber, and Lil Pump, Bennett is playing around with the idea of slowing down a little and carving out space to take on new kinds of projects next year. But before opening a new chapter, he’s laser-focused on his current task: releasing Lyrical Lemonade’s first album, All Is Yellow, on Jan. 26.

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The wildly ambitious project is the product of many sleepless nights for Bennett and the Lyrical Lemonade team. The tracklist is full of unexpected collaborations, like Kid Cudi and Lil Durk uniting for the very first time on the single “Guitar In My Room.” Instead of relying on predictable (and easy to acquire) collabs, he sought out to make a collection of original songs featuring collaborations that likely never would have existed in the world if he wasn’t there to connect the dots.

All Is Yellow is on track to make a big impact when it drops, but Bennett isn’t too worried about how it performs commercially. He’s much more focused on a personal challenge he set for himself. One day, not too long ago, the director woke up and promised himself that he would shoot a video for every song on the tracklist and tie them all together with a consistent theme.


Cole Bennett is making a music video for EVERY song on his Lyrical Lemonade album with a total of 35 artists. Our interview with #colebennett about #allisyellow is on Complex now

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There are, of course, several examples of artists in music history who have made videos for each song on an album. (Shoutout to Beyoncé.) But for Bennett, the unique task of doing it as a director on a compilation album meant that he needed to coordinate shoots with dozens of artists across the world over the past few months. He distinctly remembers the logistical triumph of getting Teezo Touchdown, Juicy J, Cochise, Denzel Curry, and Lil B in the same location for their video. And situations like that happened frequently, since the album features 35 total artists from all corners of hip-hop, with multiple performers in each video.

The challenge was admittedly more difficult than he had expected, but Bennett figured out how to make it all happen. Over ten years into his career, he's energized by the idea of trying new things and opening up new possibilities in the minds of other directors and creatives along the way.

“I just hope that it inspires people to push the boundaries and do things that they normally wouldn't do,” he explains. “I found myself very uncomfortable and overwhelmed in many points of this process and I've learned so much from it as a man, as a creative, as so many different things. When you push your boundaries, you learn so much about yourself and what you want to be better at. That's what I hope that it does. I hope it inspires people.”

Finding a spare moment to stop by the Complex office for an interview in early December, Bennett spoke about his plans for the album, his views on creativity, advice for creatives, his inspirational relationship with Rick Rubin, recent music videos for Lil Yachty, Ken Carson, Drake, and Justin Bieber, and more. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below.

How's life?
Life is good. I don't want to say it's stressful but I would say it's overwhelming right now—in a good way.

What's been on your mind lately?
I find myself most commonly talking about next year, and the next chapter [after the album]. I'm very present, but I also find myself thinking about the future more than I ever have. You know, I've been working for 10 years straight, and I view next year as my first year of slowing down and spending more time with family.

I had a road trip with my mom to see my grandma for Thanksgiving. It was nine hours there and nine hours back, and in that time, I learned so much about my mom. Sometimes life moves so fast and I don't often get a chance to do that, so it made me excited to learn more about my family. As we get older, we realize that there's so much we don't know, and I'm excited about just learning more.

While working on your album, you've also made time for other things, like Ken Carson's "Fighting My Demons" video. It was interesting to see you explore a darker aesthetic, since your videos are usually so colorful. What was that experience like?
I'm definitely known for more colorful work, but I've always known that, if given the opportunity, I could really thrive in that darker space. [Playboi] Carti and I were supposed to work a few times over the years and I was always excited because I was going to be able to demonstrate that style a little bit more. Ken and I have been talking about doing a project over the last couple of years and then we stumbled upon this moment. I was really excited because it was something different. It was something new. 

I made the Lyrical Lemonade carton black and white for the first time because when I finished the video, I placed the original carton in there and it kind of threw everything off. So I made like 20 different options of different cartons and the white one with those black touches on it just worked perfectly. It complemented the video better, which is what it really came down to. It felt fun. It felt like such a moment, and it felt appropriate to do that. I don't know if I'll ever switch the carton again.

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The Lyrical Lemonade album will be dropping in January. Why did you want to make an album of your own, and why is now the right time?
I've been talking about doing a Lyrical Lemonade album for years now, and I just never felt ready for it. But now is the best time to do it because I've done music videos for so long, I've built so many beautiful relationships, and I really understand my taste more than ever. 

I think I keep thinking back to... What if I did a Lyrical Lemonade album in 2017 or 2018? What would it have looked like? I just don't think it would have aged as well with my taste, and I don't know if it would be something I'm fully proud of. But now I understand what I want it to be sonically, how I want things to flow, and what I want a story to look like. It's a compilation album, but all of the songs have been built from scratch and there's a consistent theme. It's world-building. I don't know if I would have been able to create that in 2018 or 2019. Subconsciously, I think I realized that I needed to grow more as an artist before I stepped into something like that.

With this album... Being a director, doing an album, building all these songs from scratch, putting together this world, and bringing all these different artists together—there's 35 artists on the album—it was only right that I did a music video for every single song. And to be quite honest, I don't know if I would have been able to do that back then—at least not to the level I'm doing it now, with the theme of putting everyone in a similar wardrobe and just organizing it the way I can now.

It's very ambitious to make a music video for every song on an album. Can you break down how and why it's so challenging?
It was just an agreement I made with myself. Like, I have to do every video for every song. And it's way more ambitious than I realized and it's a lot more work than I ever thought it could be. It's really challenging, but it's fun. At times I'm like, “I don't need to be doing all this." I'm literally doing this just because I told myself if I don't do a video for every song, then the album is not complete.

If I went and did eight or nine of the videos, they could have come out and everything would have been fine. Some people probably wouldn't have even realized I didn't do the last videos. I mean, some people aren't even into music videos anymore. A lot of people probably wouldn't have cared. But it was just something that was important to me.

Lately, I've noticed that a lot of this stuff is just for me to do and know that I did it. Even when I did the short film, that was just a message to myself. I've noticed that a lot of the work is really beautiful because it's just for me. Everyone else can take it, and it could be personal with them in whatever way, but this is just something I wanted to do.


Cole Bennett shares advice for young creatives. Our interview with #colebennett about his Lyrical Lemonade album #allisyellow is on Complex now

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What does the color yellow mean to you?
The color means so many things and it carries so many emotions. It's the color of lemonade and it's just a color that I've been surrounded by my whole career inevitably. If you name a company called Lyrical Lemonade, it's gonna be a consistent color throughout your life. So it's always surrounding me and I have these moments where I look around and I just see it everywhere. Yellow, yellow, yellow. So I was like, "How do I build this into a world and bring people into it further?" Because it's something I live in all the time. And it's a color that pops. It's exciting and I feel like it represents myself and the company accurately.

What's the meaning behind the album title All Is Yellow?
I looked around one day and I was like, "Wow, everything around me is yellow. All is yellow." And it also means "all is well." Everything's OK. The short film whyrush? builds into the album, and I think people are gonna realize that more and more as time goes on. The green latex curtain then turns yellow, and at the very end, it has the Eminem intro vocals on "Doomsday," which is the first song single off the album, in reverse. The green turns yellow, and with age and wisdom, green grows into yellow. So it's just this big transition moment, and there's actually a transition that happens after the album as well.

The curtain is a motif across all of the album’s visuals. What's the story behind the curtain?
The curtain idea came when I decided I wanted to do a video for every song off the album and create this consistent theme. I didn't want to do a ton of videos that were random, and I wanted to have this consistent theme with a thread that tied it all together. So I was like, what if I built a standing set somewhere, which I could bring all these artists to and shoot these separate videos? Each time we would build it a little bit differently or change the lighting or whatever it may be. But then I was like, I might not be able to get everyone to this one location. I might need to go to Chief Keef's house. I might need to go to London to shoot this Dave video. And that's exactly what I had to do. I had to go to Chief Keef's house, and I had to go to London to shoot Dave.

So I was like, how do I have a traveling set that I can easily bring anywhere? I literally went to London and we threw the curtain in a suitcase. We could bring it to Chief Keef's house. We could bring it to Yachty's backyard. We could bring it everywhere. It's something that the artist can interact with, and it's a symbol that's open for interpretation. As my career goes on, I want that latex curtain—whatever color it may be—to be a representation of whatever project I'm working on in that moment, whether that be a feature film or a book I'm writing or whatever. That curtain can take on many lives in different colors. It's exciting.

Over the years, you've always hidden little easter eggs for your fans to find in your videos. Will you be doing the same on the album?
Yeah, there's little things sprinkled all throughout the album that people may catch. I'm not gonna say for sure, but you know, say Chief Keef forgot to do a "bang" adlib, I might come in and do it for him, you know. [Laughs.] There are little moments like that throughout the whole album, sonically and visually.

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A lot of the songs on this album are surprising, and I feel like they wouldn’t have ever existed if it weren’t for you and this album. How did you approach the songs themselves?
There are some songs that make more sense than others—some of which just made sense in my head and I wanted to bring it to life, like the Durk and Cudi song, which has two of my favorite artists. They're from different worlds, but I know if they're in that same pocket, it could actually work well. At least, it works well to my ears. I think some people would agree, and other people would disagree. That's the fun. The music creates a dialogue for people to have conversations and debates.

Growing up, I always looked at these moments... You think of the Cozy Tapes series and stuff like that. Just coming up in the underground, there was so much crossover and collaboration that happened, especially from 2015 to 2018. People were trying things in different worlds, and that was always so fun to me because it showed unity in music. And with the relationships that I've built over the years, I'm able to be that thread that ties some of these people together. If I have that opportunity, why not take advantage of it?

I always loved random collabs growing up because they felt like cultural moments. That's what it's about. It's about moments. With Lyrical Lemonade, I've tried to create moments that felt like, "Oh wow, we're witnessing history in real time." On the album, there are some songs that make a little more sense and some that make a little less sense. But in my opinion, they all sound good and follow that theme. 

There are a lot of songs that were made for the album that got left off the album, and eventually I'll tell those stories. If I could explain to you some of the collaborations when I first started working on the album that just didn't make any sense at all, you'd laugh at it. It was just trial and error. But I eventually learned what I wanted to make and what I didn't want to make.


Cole Bennett reveals unexpected collabs on the Lyrical Lemonade album... including one song with Teezo Touchdown, Juicy J, Cochise, Denzel Curry, and Lil B. #colebennett

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Can you share a favorite memory from the album that represents what the creation process was like?
Every time I'm on set and see someone in that all-black suit with the yellow tie in front of the yellow curtain, it's just the highest honor. I'm seeing the world being built in front of my eyes. It just feels like the highest form of respect. And there's times, like with Chief Keef, where I really didn't expect him to get in a suit, but he did come in the suit. I had to talk to him a little bit, but we got there. Even when we shot the Dave video, for some reason I thought he wasn't gonna come in the suit. But he came in the suit and he had the yellow tie, and I was like, "This doesn't feel real."

When it comes to a more specific story... There's this one song on the album. It's Teezo Touchdown, Juicy J, Cochise, Denzel Curry, and Lil B. We shot it over the course of two days in this theater and all these artists were coming in and out. We shot some together, shot some separately, but everyone got to meet each other at some point. It was the craziest feeling. When you see songs like that happen every few years, with all these different artists coming together in one song, you almost never see a music video for it. So for that to happen, and for them to all be in one place at one time—coming from five totally different places—was really exciting for me.

You're seeing people meet for the first time. Like, Durk and Cudi had never met prior to their song. I have this other song on the album... It's Gus Dapperton, Yachty, and Joey Badass. And Yachty still doesn't know who Gus Dapperton is. You know what I mean? [Laughs.] And it's great. He respects him and he loves the song, but he knows nothing about him. You know, it's just cool bringing people together.

The latest single is "Stop Giving Me Advice" with Jack Harlow and Dave. How did that come together?
It's a really special song because I love when Jack raps. I love when he's profound with his lyrics and just storytells, and it's one of those songs. Jack was supposed to be on a few songs on the album and we just never found the right pocket for him. Then we found this song that was gonna work, and it was actually gonna be the only solo song on the album with just Jack on it. But then I thought Dave would sound really good on this Jack song.

It came together super naturally and it came together last minute. This is the last song that was finished on the album before we finalized it and turned it in. To a lot of people, it wouldn't make sense, but to me it just makes sense. They had a pre-existing relationship. I've known Jack for years—he's a close friend of mine—and I met Dave when I shot the "Doja" video for Central Cee in London. Dave and I have been talking about this for like a year, just waiting until we found the right fit. And when he heard the "Stop Giving Me Advice" song, he just said, "Yeah, give me a second." Then two days later, he sent the verse back and it was like two minutes long. There's a lot of quotables throughout the whole song from both sides. It's just a good song.

Jack is one of those artists... He's incredible for so many different reasons, but also there's a lot of people who have different things to say. And this song just addresses things. He's talking his shit, and Dave comes in and does the same and it feels good. I thought it would be cool to have them together [for the video] and Jack was super on board for that, so Jack and I took a trip out to London and shot it over the course of two days. It was a great time.

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What is your hope for the Lyrical Lemonade album when it's finally out in the world?
I try not to be prideful at all—as a person, as a creative, as a director. And I know that I'm not the best at what I do. But I wanted to do something that I know no one's ever done before... To be a director that does an album and does a video for every song on the album, that then extends into one full visual album piece that is stitched together after they all come out as individual pieces—understanding that attention spans are short and not giving them that full piece just yet, but giving it to them in pieces if they want to digest it that way, and then giving them that longer format. That is something I'm excited about and very proud of. Regardless of what it does and how it performs, knowing that I did it is probably the greatest accomplishment about the album.

I just hope that it inspires people to push the boundaries and do things that they normally wouldn't do. I found myself very uncomfortable and overwhelmed in many points of this process and I've learned so much from it as a man, as a creative, as so many different things. When you push your boundaries, you learn so much about yourself and what you want to be better at. That's what I hope that it does. I hope it inspires people. Just have fun. Disregard everything else. Nothing matters that much. We're gonna die one day, just put shit out. I hope that that's what this album does, and inspires people to do just that.

How has your outlook on creativity changed lately? Are you changing your priorities about how you want to use your time?
Yeah. Lyrical Lemonade just turned 10 a couple of months ago. I'll be 28 next year, and I'm a very driven, passionate person. There are so many different things I want to do. There are things I want to do career-wise, and I have things I wanna do in my personal life. I think it's time to start doing some of those things, and after the album comes out, I'll speak on what that exactly means.

But yeah, it's crazy. There have been 400 Lyrical Lemonade videos and I've directed and edited every one of those. If I were to add up all the hours I've spent writing, shooting, and editing, it's been a lot. A lot of my life consists of this. I'm looking forward to doing other things.

It's kind of miraculous because Lyrical Lemonade as a company, we have around 10 employees. Obviously we outsource for different projects sometimes, but there's like 10 of us between all of the things we do. Like, when we did the Minions collab, that's like three guys on our end handling this big corporate company and doing all these different things. It's really fun, but at the same time, it's kind of a miracle how amazing everything's been running with us being in the midst of so many different things. I'm excited to zoom out for a second and structure things and run the company again, because I don't know if I've ever really done that. It's just fallen into place because we've made a few right turns, but there's really been no organization.

We don't go into things like, "Oh, here's our 12-month plan." We take it day by day, literally. I mean that in the purest sense. Like, we do not know what the fuck's going on. [Laughs.] It just works out. So I want to add a little bit more structure in my career, in my life—personal and work—all the way through, and that's what I'm gonna start working on next year.

A few years ago, you tweeted, "I want to direct a Drake video someday." And this year, it happened. What was it like getting the call to direct the video for "Another Late Night"?
The Drake thing was interesting because there's been so many points where we got so close. I remember the first time he was like, "Yo, let's do something," it was actually shortly after I put out that tweet in 2020. Blogs and stuff were picking it up and he DM'd me, and we talked about doing something then. So that was step one of like, "Oh wow, we might do a video." Then a year or two later, he mentioned he had a song for us. But the song never came in. And then the next year he's like, "Yo, I got the song for us." Then he sent the song and it was "Search & Rescue." We didn't end up doing that. Then the next step was, we actually did one.

It was a crazy feeling. I mean, he's the biggest artist in the world, and he is also an incredible human being. He's a joy to work with. He feels like he's your friend. I think everyone feels like that. Even on the internet, they feel like they can relate to Drake in some sense—like, he just feels like that guy they can hang out with. And that's how he is. He's super personable and it was an honor to work with him. I hope that we can do more.

The video itself is crazy. The part with the chain is my favorite. How did you approach the actual creation of the video?
That whole video was interesting how it came about because there were so many different songs we were supposed to shoot off the [For All The Dogs] album. It was really this moving target because he was trying to shoot videos while he was on tour. So we figured out we were gonna shoot it like a day prior. We were picking the song like an hour before we shot it in his hotel room. We were just going through songs, but a lot of them were like, "OK, let's shoot half of this and then finish it here." But one of the songs that was finished that I liked was "Another Late Night." Also, Yachty happened to be in town that day and I feel really comfortable working with Yachty. It just felt like the right thing to do in that moment, especially with the circumstances. It was like, OK, we have to shoot this video in like two and a half hours. We're gonna have to find a random spot to shoot it tonight, still sourcing all of that as we go. It felt like the good run-and-gun option to go with. So we shot it.

In the video, there's that car that we had from Alex Choi. It's funny because Drake had sent me this car on Instagram and he was like, “Can you find this car?” I found the car and I looked deeper into it and I realized it was Christmas lights, like taped down onto a car. So I let him know we could do this with any car—just pick what car you wanna do and we could figure it out. And he's like, "No, I want that car," and he flew that car in a cargo plane to Vancouver because he liked that specific car. It was cool because we got to have Alex Choi be there and be a part of it. He established this look, with the Christmas light car, so to have him be involved was important.

So we had this car, and we had Drake and Yachty in this open parking lot. The Christmas lights on the car were interesting because I was like, "How do we build this into a theme that makes sense?" I'm always trying to make sense of things just a little bit, so it feels like a cohesive piece. So in post [production], step one was: I knew I wanted to put Christmas lights on all of the trees. And then I knew that I needed an intro that said something along the lines of, "Christmas came early." It was like an hour before we put out the video and it looked good without the intro, but I was like, "It needs something." So I hit Yachty and he sent a few versions of him saying "Christmas came early" over in a voice memo and I placed it in there. And it just made sense of it.

There are certain moments in that video that are very captivating and pull you in. There's the intro, all of the car scenes are really fun, the Christmas lights, and then people's favorite is that Yachty chain animation. As soon as I saw the chain on set, I knew we needed to turn it into something. You know, with this Concrete moment and where that's going, there's world-building there already, and this was the first look that people had gotten at Yachty's new chain because he had gotten it recently. So I wanted to build it into a 3D moment with a match cut of it going, and then flipping the match cut back into him. But it all needed to happen within the parking lot.

So I worked with my friends Reduciano and Aid6n on that. They're crazy with 3D and we pulled it together perfectly. With 3D moments like that, match cuts and building an environment that feels consistent with the video makes it 10 times better. It just worked really well. That's a moment I'll look back at forever, visually, as being something that turned out exactly as I envisioned it, and then some.

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You've been on a hell of a run with Yachty lately. "Tesla" is one of my favorite videos of the year because of the colors, and you also did "Strike" and "Poland" with him. What has it been like working with Yachty lately?
Yachty is just a really good friend. He's been there for me really for my whole career. Since early in my career, he's been someone I could work with really easily, no matter what that may be. We did the first iPhone video that I made a few years back in Chicago, and he's a staple at the Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash Festival. Like, that iconic video of him walking out is at our festival. He's always been someone you can call and joke around with.

"Poland" kind of happened randomly. It came together like a day before and I flew to New York to shoot it. Funny enough—I think I've spoken on this before—it was supposed to be a two-part video and Drake was directing the second half. Right after we shot it, I edited the first half and then we were gonna go to Toronto to shoot the second half. Drake wrote a whole treatment. It's a whole thing. But the song was just so hot that Yachty was like, "Yo, let's just put it out right now."

And then right after that, he was like, "Yo, I want you and Drake to co-direct this one," and he sent me "Strike" like two or three weeks after "Poland" had come out. I think six months had passed before we ended up doing "Strike," and obviously it didn't end up happening like that. But we shot that in his backyard and a forest preserve and a parking garage up the street.

Then when we did the "Tesla" video, I found a really colorful house. With Yachty's style, I was just like, "Let's just pair his wardrobe with each room." So I sent him all the different room colors and I was like, "Pack an outfit for each room," and he did just that.

Yachty and my workflow really comes down to just being able to make the most out of a little bit. We did "Poland" just running around New York. We did the "Strike" video in his backyard and a parking garage and a forest reserve up the street in like four hours. And the "Tesla" video was just inside a house. People think that we built those rooms and built out that kitchen, but it just happened to be a really cool and colorful house that we built around. It really comes down to the composition and the framing. You'll notice in the "Tesla" video that there's almost no movement. It's all static shots, and I feel like that contributes to the feeling within the video. It's really leaning into his wardrobe and the colors, and that's why they come through so well.


Cole Bennett and Lil Yachty have been on a hot streak lately. Here's how they pulled off videos like #poland #strike and #tesla

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One more collaborator I want to ask about is Justin Bieber. You guys have made a couple of videos together and it seems like you click really well. How did that relationship develop?
Justin and I met at a Halloween party a few years ago and he was this Ryan Reynolds character. Damn, I forget the name of the movie... I watched the movie and I didn't remember anything about it, but I recognized that he was that character. I was one of the Wayne's World characters and I hadn't seen that movie in however many years—it was a last-minute costume I got.

All night, he's just throwing quotes at me from each movie—from both of our characters from each movie—and I didn't know any of the quotes. So he's just throwing them at me and I understand what's going on, but I don't know how to really respond, you know? [Laughs.] And then we dove into a conversation, and we just had a lot in common. Shortly after, I directed his tour visual, which was a lot of fun. And from there we did a couple of music videos and just started hanging out a lot.

He's just a really good guy and he's been instrumental in my growth as a person. You know, he's seen so much, he has so much perspective, and he's been able to give me a lot of game and be a really good friend for me. I love him to death. He's just an incredible dude.

It was cool seeing you guys do the "Honest" music video, and then make an off-the-cuff video for "I Feel Funny" at the same time. How did that happen?
He just always sends me random stuff. He was in the studio and made pretty much a troll song of him just joking around. And when we were shooting the bigger production video for "Honest," he was in his trailer and the AC went out. We had like maybe an hour before the next shot because we had to dial in all the lighting. So I was like, this would be a good time to just have some fun. I was thinking maybe we could pair it all together as part of the rollout for that song. So I was like, "What if we just shot that little troll song that you sent me the other night?" So we did it. I don't know, we just have fun.

A lot of young creators look up to you. Is there anything you've been thinking about lately that you want to pass along to them? Any words of advice?
Yeah. One thing that I want to speak more on moving forward is world-building. Just build a world. Have consistent themes that are very subtle; people might not even catch them. Build a story, and that could be through whatever your work is. I think you could do it in journalism. I think you could do it with your music. I think you could do it with film work. Just create a story and have layers to your work. Layers are important, and layers sometimes mean that people only ever see that top layer. But if there are things beyond the surface that are even just for you, that maybe no one else knows—or a close friend or some family know—it’s really, really cool.

All art is inspired. I might go make something based off the conversation you and I had today, right? And I think it's cool to recognize that. Just know that you're drawing influence, and then know how to put that into your work. Create a story. I think storytelling and world-building is a really cool thing, and it doesn't need to be this overdone, over-communicated thing. Sometimes it's just for you. Make sure there's a story because you'll be creatively fulfilled and happy.

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You said your whyrush? short film leads into the theme of the album. Can you talk about the message behind the short film?
I've been writing a lot of scripts for short films, a lot of which I'm actually much more connected to than the story of whyrush? But the idea came while I was watching this Netflix series, The Movies That Made Us. The director of Ghostbusters was speaking about how when he did his first short film, he just did it. He didn't think too much about it. He just did it. So I was like, "I want to shoot something next week." It's funny because I kind of rushed into a short film that's called whyrush? [Laughs.]

The message behind the film is like a portal of me stepping into the next chapter of not rushing things and just being able to take my time. Even with the album, if I would have done it back in the day, I would have been in such a rush to finish it and get it out—especially if it's bringing stress to my life and it's this long ongoing process. A lot of times I do find myself in that scenario of like, “Ahh, I just want this to be over with." But I need to remember how much work that I put into it. You know, we've pushed back the album release date a few times, and I'm OK with that.

Why rush? Take your time. You put in all this energy and effort into something, just let it be what it's supposed to be. And that's a message for work, your career, and your life. Just take it slow. Take it easy. I think we often find ourselves in this rhythm of needing to overwork ourselves, and it's easy to get into that spot. But we could also take our time and let things build how they're supposed to. 

My whole career has been based around being the guy who can turn around projects really quickly and get things done—be here and be there—and it's exhausting. It really is. So I needed to just take a step back and make a piece that's a note to myself. As time goes on, I think people will be able to relate to it. It's very simple and straightforward. But I like making pieces where there's a surface-level message that anyone can watch. And then there are more layers underneath that you can dig into. As time goes on, those layers are gonna continue to be built for people to understand the greater story. But I just put it out there and people make it theirs.

Rick Rubin's voice is in the short film, and I know he's been a mentor figure for you. What's your relationship like with Rick?
Rick is one of my mentors and he's someone that I look up to in so many different ways. If I ever need someone to talk to or need to go to someone for advice, he's always there. He always pops up in my life at the most random times. If I'm ever going through something, I'll have a conversation with my mom, and she'll often be like, "You should go see Rick." He's really, really good at listening. That's something I wanna do better at—just being present and listening and taking things in. He's not one of those people where you have a conversation and you can tell they're ready for the next question. He's really taking in what's being said, digests it all, and then moves on in conversation. Very few people are like that.

Obviously his book is incredible. And when I was watching the film, something about it felt like Rick should have narration on it at the end. So I wrote a few things, texted it over to him, and sent him the film. I asked if he'd want to be a part of it and he loved it. I was waiting for the Rick vocals and every day we woke up, my boy Joe would be like, [DJ Khaled voice] "Did the Rick vocals come in yet?!" [Laughs.] And eventually he sent them. For him to be a part of it was a dream come true. He was actually supposed to be on the intro of the album, but I decided that this would be a better route to take, just a more personal piece. And it was really important for me to put this out before the first single, because it all ties together as a grand piece.

I feel like you guys both have a very zen-like demeanor to you. Do you connect with Rick on a spiritual level?
Absolutely. I'm a very spiritual person already and I think getting to know him better only heightened my spirituality and my journey in that regard. I had this one moment, actually... I'll talk to my mom when I'm going through things, and she suggested that I go talk to Rick when I was going through something. I hadn't reached out to him, yet... But there's a friend of mine who loves to go surfing and he said it's great because you disconnect when you're out in the water and you don't think about anything else. So I went surfing.

While we were driving out there, we stopped for coffee, made a wrong turn, and ended up at the beach much later than planned. It was a gloomy day, so no one was out on the beach and as we were walking out there, I kid you not, I looked up and right in front of me as I'm 15 feet away from the water is Rick. He's just walking down the beach, and I hadn't spoken to him in a couple of months. We had like a 40-minute talk while my friend was in the water. 

We had the most beautiful conversation. This is about a year and a half ago, and he was talking about how he had just gone through a couple of house fires and he actually thought that he was gonna die in one of them. He was in this house fire and he couldn't find his way out, and he had this moment where he was at peace with it because the book had been finished and he felt like that was his purpose. That was really, really powerful to hear. 

Shortly after that, he sent me an early version of the book, so I got to read it and really connect with it. I still have that original copy because he sent me a PDF and I printed it out. It's all ripped up now because I spent so much time with it. I passed it around to a few close family members who I think needed it. 

I think that moment really connected us further, and it was all because I just happened to run into him. I mentioned the coffee stop and the wrong turn, because had I not done those things, I wouldn't have crossed paths with him. It needed to be that 10-second timeframe for us to run into each other the way we did.

I’ll end with a big, open-ended question for you: What's the meaning of life?
The meaning of life is to not rush through it, and to be happy in the process of it all. It's so, so, so easy to just live and then die. I had this realization the other day... Say we live to be 90 years old. If you break it down and you look at what 90 days looks like, it's three months. And think how quickly we go through three months. And think about one day. And out of those 90 days, how many of those do we actually remember? Little to none. We might have one moment that happened one day that felt particularly special, but we breeze through it and everything is relative, so you can compare that to life as well. Just be present. I've seen a lot of people realize that too late, and I'm trying to catch it early. That's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to do it before 30. I'm trying to be fully present and just live life.

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