Typically, those that are truly gifted with the ability to differentiate themselves know so from a young age. It is something special about these types of people to where they have a keen awareness of self that makes them want to truly show the world who they are. Growing up, the education system and hobbies that we partake in show that many people are followers of the same status quo. Often, we fall in line with what society has ascribed for us to have as our role. But actually, there is so much more to life than the daily routines that we subject ourselves to.
Enter Ben Goldberg, an everyday chubby Jewish kid from Boston, Massachusetts. He knew from a very raw age (about six) that he would eventually separate himself and do anything possible to grind and make a living off of his passion. Even when his classmates would mock him and subject him to ridicule for his pursuits, he merely saw it as their uncomfortability with their own selves. Rightfully so, because there was nothing that threw him off his path to becoming a renown hip-hop artist.
Nature and Nurtured
Goldberg developed an affinity toward hip-hop around the wicked age of six when his eleven year old sister put him onto the likes of Tupac, Eminem and Ludacris. He considers these three artists to be his rap heroes and attributes much of his success to their formative catalogues. Also, Ben finds listening to the legends that came before him as almost a conversational experience by which he is able to learn different tools of the trade. He finds this specifically impactful when listening to one of his musical idols, Amy Winehouse and reveres her work for the terrific metaphorical concepts and telltale nature of things to come.
Throughout his development stages, Ben struggled with reading and felt disconnected from his peers. He would deal with his anxiety and depression by guilt eating copious amounts of food. By fourth grade he weighed 140 lbs and doctors were surprised he did not have diabetes like his father. The amazing thing about this is that even in fourth grade Ben was so self-aware that he realized he needed to make a change. He snuck into his local physical activity center and ran on the treadmills until he lost 50 lbs. This feat goes to show that this is an individual who can achieve anything that he puts his mind to once he is able to visualize the end goal.
Channeling Negative into Positive
Still, Ben would have inexplicable violent eruptions and would eventually be diagnosed with a learning disability. Doctors informed him that he was unable to process language or put words together normally. Instead of subscribing to the outcast status that medical professionals intended to cast upon him, this young man found an alternative form of expression. It just so happened that he was able to channel his hostile outbursts into a written form of therapy. He found solace in words and would look forward to the end of each day when he could document his thoughts and sentiments in a journal. He relied on this process to overcome and eventually this form of coping would turn into a lifestyle.
Around the 8th grade is when this artist transformed his moniker from his initials, BDG into the star now known as, “Token.” Token symbolizes multiple meanings such as, “the only” as in the only Jewish white kid or a, “Token of appreciation.” As he got older, this artist found that being disconnected from his peers became a blessing. He realized that many of his wealthy schoolmates struggled with depression and suicidal tendencies. That is when he caught onto the notion that happiness derives from being self-aware not being rich. While his schoolmates were involved in typical extra curriculars, gossip circles or having sleepovers he would spend time in solitude to bolster his bars and perfect his craft. From a young age, he realized that sacrifice is extremely important and he did so to develop a relentless work ethic. As he embraced his differentiation, Token went on to link up with his friend, Colin who went by Composition and they recorded demo tapes together. They pedaled this tape into Pringle’s Barbershop in Salem where the owner would eventually pass it along to Jon Glass, founder of Glasshouse Productions. He took note of their song choice to rap over a Slaughterhouse beat and noticed their potential.
Glass would end up becoming the mentor and guiding force for young Token. He showed them the ropes and taught them about songwriting, structure and different types of recording software. He also held him to particularly high standards. He would cut studio time altogether if Token failed to complete school assignments or had any type of poor academic performance. Token came into his own by adhering to a routine of completing his homework and then writing raps treating each one with unique dedication. By turning his artistic compositions into a habit he was able to progressively improve his skills and usage of wordplay. Glass and Token meshed very well together and would attend Wreckshop Movement Freestyle Sessions together. This is the place where Token learned the art of performance, freestyling and gained a great deal of respect and courage throughout the process.
Eventually, everyone hopped on board with the idea that this artist would become a household name. Token’s mother got permission from the landlord to build a makeshift studio in the form of a kitchen add on inside their home. When Token was thirteen he accosted Hopsin after one of his shows amidst a crowd of patrons clamoring for autographs. Instead of following the general population, Token snatched this opportunity from the palm of his hand and started rapping for Hopsin. Eventually, all thirty people stopped asking for autographs and were in awe with what Token’s freestyle rendition. He treated this galvanizing moment as his own individual onstage performance. Hopsin took notice of the riveting effort and would be the first artist to bring Token on tours with him across the United States and Europe. While on tour, Token upheld his high school schoolwork by taking online classes. He would go on to tour with The Pharcyde and Robert Glasper at the Chorus Festival in France. He has received cosigns from the likes of Mark Wahlberg, Fred Durst, RA the Rugged Man, D12, Joell Ortiz and Flo Rida.
Although he had a decent body of musical entries and had toured with some artists, Token really got his recognition with two separate viral instances. The first arrived in 2015 when he submitted his late entry for a rap contest with the song called, “No Sucka MC’s.” He literally formulated the verses, recorded the song and edited the video all within a matter of one day. People gravitated toward this effort as they recognized his flow comes naturally from the heart and seen how he represents underground hip-hop and carries revivalist tendencies. Token went on to build a solid online niche with his regular uploads like, Token Tuesdays and Freeverse Fridays. But if you get to know his musical output, you will soon realize he is built for much more than the pigeonhole of an internet sensation. Although only 5’7 he is grandiose in the flesh and he is a monster with the microphone. He strenuously practices and has put in his ten thousand hours to time to master the art of performance. His onstage presence is a physical investment that makes an impact on the audience due to its aggressive nature and the use of raw emotion. He spits verses with precise placement and maintains a constant calculated motion to deliver sharply timed punchlines. It is easy to discern this artist from his counterparts due to the ritual nature of his practice methods. He comes to every event with his lyrical chambers locked and loaded and it is apparent within every rendition.
The other particular instance that skyrocketed his career came on the Sway in the Morning show. For this event, he had prepared 11 minutes worth of material. Since, other artists would be participating as well, they informed him that he would have to cut it down to six minutes. Rather than backing out and hoping for an individual segment or selecting run of the mill verses that he had previously spit, Token took his time to compile the hottest subject matter into the condensed window they provided him. His performance was captivating, his lines were delivered with great passion and this performance sent shockwaves throughout the industry. The rendition was so powerful that Sway’s co-host Tracy G was moved to tears. She could tell that his lyrical expressions came from the most authentic space within his soul and they all were greatly appreciative of his efforts.
Music Emits Invincibility
Token is known for his verbal acrobatics, clever conceptual records and emotional revelations. At the beginning, much of his songs were based on the past but as of now much of his catalogue is forward facing as he has much to look forward to. He has always pursued his lofty goals of making a living off of his passion despite any opposition or hardships faced. He is extremely humble and according to a recent statement he is, “Just scratching the surface of his creative impulses.” As a tremendous self-aware artist, Token is unafraid to highlight his vulnerabilities. He is undeniably transparent in his raps and illuminates narratives of self-doubt and struggles experienced in order to describe the most authentic version of himself. That way, he tells the truth in his music and helps others to discover the genuine nature of themselves.
His new album, Between Somewhere is out now and the majority of the songs are produced by reputable beatmaker and engineer, Nottz Beats.