Life for Los Angeles rap duo the New Boyz has changed drastically over the past year. The teens -- Earl "Ben J" Benjamin and Dominic "Legacy" Thomas -- ushered in a new dance and dress craze by way of their hit single 'You're a Jerk' off their debut album 'Skinny Jeanz and a Mic.' Now the high school friends spend their time on planes, trains, automobiles and running from sometimes unruly fans. While at a performance stop at a Michigan mall, fans overcrowded the 300-person capacity area showing up in groves of over 1,000 and shutting down the concert. Although it definitely sounds like rock star status, moments like those have become the norm in their lives.
"It can be [overwhelming] at times," Legacy tells the BoomBox of the "jerk movement" sweeping the nation. "I never wanted to be the person where a little girl was like, 'I don't like Legacy because he didn't take a picture with me.' I know people that met famous people and they just hate them because of the one time they met them. So I always try to give everybody an autograph."
On this December day, Ben J and Legacy touch down in New York and head straight from the airport to their record label, Warner Bros. Records. There, like many of the days in their schedule, they do back-to-back interviews. "It's boring but you have to get used to it," says Ben J. "You gotta knock it out because once you're [career is] finished, it's not going to be there." You wouldn't know it by looking at them, but the two are far more reclusive than their high-energy songs and dance moves would suggest. Legacy himself is under the weather and the chilly New York City air isn't doing much to help his ailments. "When I'm on stage I know I'm sick but I still have to put on a show," he says. "I just adjusted to that, hopping out of that and pretending not to be sick."
With their press obligations over, the two head out to do some shopping before a taping at BET. "We usually go to Times Square, I don't know why? I guess we're just regular tourists," says Legacy venturing into a nearby H&M clothing store in search of skinny jeans.
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Ben J can't find an item that he doesn't like. "When I feel like going shopping, I go shopping," he says combing through shirts. "I spend about $500 or more on clothes everyday." By now Legacy has noticed he's forgotten his credit card and opts to just listen to his Beats By Dre headphones instead of shopping. "I probably bought like four pairs of these [headphones] because I keep breaking them," he says, as Ben J continues to shop. The two couldn't be further apart even though they are standing right next to each other. Lost in his music, Legacy never misses a beat. "I listen to weird music. I listen to rock [music]. I listen to pretty much everything but rap. I listen to rap sometimes, but not as much as I listen to everything else."
Surprisingly, the two make it through their shopping trip without being noticed. "People notice Legacy first, then they notice me after," Ben J says. "It's easier to notice the light-skinned guy!" He jokes. They hop in a car and head over to BET, grabbing a few moments of silence (and some much needed sleep) before arriving at the cable network's studios. "We just chill, we don't do too much," Ben J says from the BET green room as Legacy gets a quick trim at the BET salon. He shows off a tattoo of his 1-year-old daughter Kemaya before opening a package of Skittles, which everyone says that he's addicted to. "It's not an addiction," Ben J asserts. "I can stop anytime. It's just my favorite candy."
By days end, Ben J and Legacy are headed off to Baltimore, Maryland for their next show. Instead of taking a plane, they opt for their first train ride out of the New York City's Penn Station. "[It's] better than the airplane," says Legacy. "You don't have to worry about them saying turn your phones off, and it's a lot more room on a train than an airplane." A stranger notices the boys and instead of asking for an autograph, he asks for advice about how to help his son break into the music industry. Killing their chances of sleeping the whole way, Ben J and his manger oblige the stranger. "He was cool, but [I'm] trying to go to sleep!" Ben J says when the man leaves.
For the average teenager a rampant schedule spent with more time away from home, than in their own bed may be hard to adjust to, but for the New Boyz, it's just another day in the office.