Soundcloud rapper wants people to ‘know they’re not alone’


Photo courtesy of Ben Crowley

Junior Ben Crowley released the above image as the album cover for his most recent album “Mental Wounds.”

Noah Rozek, Profiles Editor

Despite streams on various platforms amassing into the thousands, singing and songwriting started as a joke for junior Ben Crowley, also known by his rapping persona BIG BENNI BOI.

“It started all the way in eighth grade,” Crowley said. “Me and my friends were sitting in class and we were listening to the song “Big Poppa” [by The] Notorious B.I.G. [One of my friends said] why don’t you become a  rapper and make a parody of ‘Big Poppa.’”

Some of Crowley’s earliest songs were made as jokes, or for the fun of producing them. But before long, his music transitioned to focus on topics that mattered to him, such as awareness about mental health issues and the impact they had on Crowley.

“I personally struggle with OCD and it’s led to a lot of anxiety,” Crowley said. “I figured the best way to spread awareness is to write songs about it.”

Crowley’s first album was released on May 5, 2021. “Mental Wounds.” Beyond struggles with mental health, the album also brought Crowley’s feelings about sexual assault to light in the song “How much it hurts”.

“Victims of sexual assault have come to me saying that song has been able to help them know that someone’s going to always stand by their side,” Crowley said.

Central counselor and Redhawk Records sponsor Dan Goldstein has known Crowley since he was in eighth grade. Ben is a signee of the record label. “He’s been coming pretty much every week since we started,” Goldstein said. “He’s been really focusing on learning how to be a better singer.”

While the content of his songs and his vocals developed, Crowley made the decision to invest in improved production of his music.

“[I write the songs] at Redhawk Records [meetings] and then there’s a studio in downtown Naperville called Sound Summit that I go to,” Crowley said. “It’s a professional-quality studio [and costs] $60 an hour.”

Crowley wishes to begin a live music career, and wants to collaborate with other artists.

“I am planning concerts in the future and I [want to] plan a music festival for all local musicians,” Crowley said. “I just want to have a big concert for charity.”

Crowley’s inspiration for a charitable concert came from working with Central programs.

“I was recently involved in the adapted art program at Central and I want to be able to raise more awareness for those programs,” Crowley said. “[Programs such as] Adapted Art or Adapted PE, not all schools have them. I want programs like them to be universal.”

 Though rapping is only a hobby for Crowley, he would not mind if it took him further in life.

“I don’t really care [if my music becomes famous], as long as I know my music has an impact on people,” Crowley said. “I want people to know they’re not alone.”

Though Crowley may see music as a side-hobby, Goldstein has noticed the importance Crowley places on it.

“Music has been his biggest passion as long as I’ve known him,” Goldstein said. “When he talks about music, you can just tell right away… he lights up. He gets very excited about talking about music.”

Crowley is currently working on multiple albums and hopes to release his next one soon this year.