Bentley Green is not a kid rapper; he is a serious hip-hop artist who happens to be a kid. After putting out YouTube videos that millions of people watched when he was 6, he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Maury Show. Green is an aspiring actor, too, having appeared in a few commercials and filmed a pilot for a television show. Fourteen now, he has some serious clout as a Dallas musician.
“Everything started with music,” says Green. He actually started rapping at 3 and by 6 he recorded his version of 2Pac’s song, “Dear Mama.” “Hey Mama” was a tribute to 2Pac and his mom. The video quickly had millions of views and soon The Ellen DeGeneres Show contacted Green's mother. He was fearless and charismatic on the show, both during an interview with DeGeneres and while performing for the studio audience.
From there, he made two appearances on The Maury Show, where he participated in a talent show for kids. He won 10 grand both times. He even performed at games for the Mavericks and Cowboys. Looking back, Green insists that none of these experiences were overwhelming. “I was put on this earth to perform,” Green says. He knew it before he could walk.
He struggles to explain what it was like to accomplish so much at such a young age. It may seem unusual to others, but he can’t imagine it any other way. He was never nervous performing on a television show or in a video or stadium and describes meeting people like Ellen DeGeneres and Mark Cuban as “pretty cool.”
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Green has appeared in some commercials and he shot a pilot for Nickelodeon. He just recently shot another pilot with a rapper who won a Grammy with Erykah Badu, but that’s not something he can talk about. Now Green is in Los Angeles doing auditions. It's clear that acting will be a significant part of his career. But he is a hip-hop artist first and foremost. And he has strong opinions about his craft.
“What would the world be without hip-hop?” he asks. “It has changed the world. Everyone has been influenced by hip-hop in some way. I’m proud to be a part of it. A lot of people think hip-hop is just beats, but it’s a form of poetry.” Some of his first memories are of listening to music by Nas, Notorious B.I.G. and even Eric B. & Rakim.
Green is raised by his mother and is well aware of the sacrifices she has made to make his career possible. Green also understands that he is lucky his mom did not discourage him from being a hip-hop artist. “Hip-hop is important not just for me, but for the world,” he says. “Some people get that and some don’t.” And there doesn’t seem to be anything strange or unfortunate about Green working as a kid.
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Green is homeschooled but aces all his classes, and even worked ahead of his grade level in math and science. He plays football and basketball. He talks about starting a clothing line and one day being a business mogul. But he steers into these interests himself and doesn’t seem to be missing out on anything. “I think it’s easier as a child,” Green says. He understands he is lucky to have a mother to take care of him, and that it won’t always be that way. Green says he will be set at 18 because he is doing things that most people start doing at that age.
Green released his first mixtape in March, and he's already working on a follow-up. Auditions and filming may take him to other cities, but he has been completely local so far as a hip-hop artist, recording in North Texas studios and performing at local festivals. And he has some surprising credentials, having worked with Fat Pimp, Lil Ronny MothaF and producer J. Oliver.
Green surprised Oliver. He was expecting to work on some sort of pop music, but right away it was clear Green had other ideas. “He’s young,” says Oliver. But someone 10 years older could have been looking for what Green wanted. “He’s not trying to do the Disney type of sound.” The two worked on a song together that Oliver describes as having a cheerful, West Coast sound. “He worked hard,” Oliver adds. “He’s very talented.”
Recently, Green even worked with Erotic D and the D.O.C., who wrote a handful of songs for him. “Bentley Green spit them joints out like he wrote them,” says Erotic D. He wasn’t expecting to be impressed by the kid, but the D.O.C. had seen potential. They were also impressed by his work ethic. “We might keep him late,” Erotic D says. “But he’s still trying to get it in.” “The kid was the easiest artist from Dallas-Fort Worth I ever worked with,” says the D.O.C. “He paid attention and really was a joy to work with.”