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After Ferguson erupted, musician and hip-hop artist Benny Starr felt the call to respond. Raised in the rural low country of South Carolina, he wanted to connect to those roots and echo a long line of Black artists focused on justice. He and his band The Four20s recorded A Water Album before a sold-out crowd in Charleston in 2018, the day after a near-miss from Hurricane Florence. The music reflects the life-bringing force of water and the existential threat that climate change poses to this flood-prone part of the world. The record is “a love offering,” he says. “We want to educate you, groove you, make you feel and think, but also want to let people know that there is power in our voices and our stories.” 

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A society must assume that it is stable, but the artist must know, and he must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven.”





Black music and Southern culture find a unique voice in Benny Starr, whose deep affection for hip-hop, gospel, jazz, blues, and rock has created a fusion steeped in rich history, resiliency, and storytelling. His creations offer a captivating journey that invites you to explore these roots, offering a fresh perspective on a familiar narrative.


Benny Starr's most recent solo project, A Water Album, was not just a milestone in his career but a significant historical moment. Recorded live with his bandmates, The Four20s, at Charleston Music Hall and released on Juneteenth 2019, it marked Benny Starr as the first Hip-Hop artist to perform at Spoleto Festival USA. The album itself was a triumph and a testament to his talent, earning the "South Carolina's Best Album" 2019 title by the Free Times, solidifying Benny Starr's place as a visionary independent artist in the South.

In 2020, Native Son, a duo comprised of Benny Starr and harmonious singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Rodrick Cliche, was formed. Together, they are redefining what it means to be dynamic while remaining highly respected. When merging the comforting allure of Southern breakfast at Grandma’s house with the triumphant command of a revolutionary’s chant, you get the sonic resonance that their sound taunts—decadent and nourishing.


My work is rooted in remembrance and imagination, influenced by what has come before and fueled by possibility. A past and a future filled with pain and hope–a yearning for love, power, purpose, and collective joy. 


My work is history and prophecy, requiring me to be an observer and practitioner. It is as much my inheritance as it is my solemn offering. It is often a personal lament, a prayer for my people—Black people—and the veneration of the rural South. 


My work is an ode to process. I love the journey of getting there from here, following a feeling without seeking to control the outcome, and arriving at something honest and new.


My work is collaborative. I always want to be conversant and in relationship with my audience.


My work is spiritual. It’s ritual, improvisation, repetition, and imperfection. It is a space for dreaming, but equally important, a space to fail, reflect, refine, and improve. And I hope that when people engage with my creations and process, it moves them to engage deeply with their creativity in everything they do.


Collaborative Projects


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