Along with appearances in music videos and small acting roles in films came the opportunity for Bentley to transition from working for others to working for himself. Now boasting the titles of author, musician, T.V. host and actor, Bentley is trying to be what he considers ‘his best self’ and hopes to encourage others to do the same for themselves.
Bentley’s personal story isn’t representative of the common hard-knock upbringing turned rags-to-riches fairytale that many of today’s successful hip-hoppers claim. His success, he says, comes from hard-work, strong values and dedication. “Whatever you do, do it so well that no man living, no man dead and no man yet to be born could ever do it any better,” says Bentley, reiterating a quote from former Morehouse College president Dr. Benjamin E. Mays.
Aside from taking care of his personal responsibilities, Bentley is a firm believer in the power of prayer. He says God is a top priority in his life and that he prays for three hours each day. These values, along with the importance of manners, appearance and general social graces are what Bentley now hopes he can inspire within today’s youth.
To do that, he released a book “Advance Your Swagger: How To Use Manners, Confidence and Style To Get Ahead.” He also teamed up with producer Jamie Foxx to create the reality series “From G’s to Gents.” The show, which Bentley says will begin shooting a third season soon, follows 16 men from the street as they are taught lessons on being a gentleman.
Sharing his knowledge with others is only the tip of Bentley’s iceberg. He is also gearing up to release his debut album CoolOutrageousLoversOfUniquelyRawStyle (C.O.L.O.U.R.S) later this year. The album, which was produced by Kanye West, features “Everybody” and the current single “Greener.”
Bentley says that he initially had no intentions of pursuing a musical career; West encouraged him to keep up with his music after hearing a short track that he recorded for fun. Others, like childhood friend Andre 3000 of Outkast, offered advice and support.
Bentley, who now lives and travels back and forth between Los Angeles and New York, recently dropped the Fonzworth from his moniker. When considering what’s next in life, the gentleman of hip-hop jokes “The most luxurious thing in the world is a NAP.” Then as if trying to appease a teacher who wants him to stop clowning around in class, he adds “I think I’m gonna go to seminary school, not to be a Pastor, but to learn more about the teaching and the good word.” In true Bentley fashion, no matter what feat he is about to conquer, God is never too far behind.
Written by Shaira Brereton