We had the good fortune of connecting with Ben Collotta and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ben, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Life as in independent artist is 100% about taking risks. You have to truly believe in whatever it is that you are trying to accomplish and go all in on yourself. Nobody every achieved greatness by playing it safe and without risk, there can be no reward. (at least of significance anyway) There are many occasions where I contemplate whether or not I am making the right decision by chasing my dream. Financial struggles and societal expectations put pressure on my shoulders to get a “real job” but I have worked that 9-5 life and it is just not for me. I believe in my dream. I am confident in my ability. I will continue to take risks and whether I succeed or not, I will always be satisfied in the fact that I tried. History has only proven to me that taking risks is beneficial whether it ends up in your favor or not because you can always learn a lesson from failure. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Be afraid to wonder, what if?
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I fell in love with Hip-Hip at age 7 when my. brother showed me Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”. I iwas nstantly hooked and began writing/reciting lyrics of my own. All throughout middle and high-school I would day dream in class about one day being on stage myself, writing music instead of taking notes. Gravitating towards English because I loved to write, I found poetry as a means to express my thoughts. As long as I can remember, I have had an affinity for words and making them rhyme/blend together. I would always re make songs on the radio with my own lyrics which would get a laugh from my friends. This turned to me freestyling at parties which gave me more confidence and led me to recording. I moved from Boston to California in 2014 to escape the harsh winters and to broaden my horizons. Having been a high school English teacher back East, I found a job teaching the inner-city youth in South Central. This was an eye opening experience for me and I saw first hand what the gang culture was about. After one of my students was killed in a gang related incident, I transferred schools, never giving up on my music dream. My friend sent me an audition notice calling all rappers, which I ended up booking the lead in an Ascent Protein commercial. This was my first taste on set and it was amazing. I knew that acting was definitely in my future and I wanted to make connections is both industries as I knew they are intertwined. I have been in Los Angeles ever since, joining the SAG actors union while working on tons of new music. I have performed all over California as well as the country, promoting a solo tour across the U.S. in 2016. I have made many great connections and have worked with some top tier artists, including Slaine (La Coka Nostra) Planet Asia, Ren Thomas, Pawz One and Masta Ace. I have launched a website, Collottahiphop.com, where you can find all my latest content and purchase merchandise. Hip-hop and acting are saturated industries, with many thinking they can achieve over night success. One thing that separates me from the pack is that I have been grinding over a decade, facing countless obstacles, but never giving up. I bring an authentic sound, reminiscent of the glory days of hip-hop, with impeccable wordplay and incredible flow. I know that I was given a gift, and I will continue to harness this positive energy until the world knows my name. There is only one COLLOTTA.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Los Angeles is an amazing city, full of culture, food and incredible art. It is almost impossible to see it all in a week, but I have several great spots to bring a new visitor or a returning guest. I usually start out with a few beaches, give or take ten miles North/South from Santa Monica. Nothing against SM, but it is usually over crowded and quite touristy. Something can be said about the quality of the sand/water as well at these beaches away from SM/Venice. It is just better. El Matador in Malibu is one of my favorites, with beautiful views and hidden caves. Driving the PCH is always fun also, whether you go all the way up to Big Sur/San Fran or if you’re just cruising locally. Manhattan beach is another favorite and sometimes may drive down to Orange County/San Diego if traffic isn’t too bad. Santa Monica Pier 3rd Street Promenade and Venice boardwalk are fun for people watching and soaking in some history, but I definitely prefer beaches North and South for swimming/beaching. Griffith Observatory is another awesome spot, with great views of the entire city. You can hike or drive to the top and there are spots to picnic during a sunset. Hollywood Boulevard is another fun spot to people watch and play tourist, reminding me a bit of Times Square in New York. DTLA is another favorite of mine, with several rooftop bars and Grand Union Market, which offers a variety of dining and street fare, There are countless other spots throughout the city such as Muholland Drive and Baldwin Hills Overlooks which offer great views and provide some relaxing aesthetic. Museums are also all over this city and the free art that constantly pops up makes it feel like you’re somewhere new daily. Anyone who comes to visit me is getting a grand tour, full of beach trips, hikes and local hangouts. If they have a week, Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I first and foremost have to shout out my family. My father Bruce, mother Cynthia, brother Chris and my sister Jen have all been a huge support system to me and have continuously support my mission. There have been numerous times where I was ready to just give up and return to Bosto but they pushed me to keep going. The love and priceless advice I have received from my family over the years has motivated me to work even harder and become what I set out to be. Secondly, I want to shout out every single one of my fans. Whether they are friends of mine, or people who have discovered my music along the way, I cannot thank them enough. Getting recognized for my craft by a loyal fan base has definitely been a driving factor throughout my career and a huge inspiration to constantly make better music. My day one supporters have stuck with me from the beginning and it is because of them that I am where I am today. You know who you are! Thank you! Lastly, I would like to thank anyone in my life who has ever given me an opportunity. Whether a small acting role, or a chance to improve myself in anyway, these people saw my potential and gave me a chance. It is people like this throughout your life who make you realize what is truly important and allow you to remain humble throughout it all.