For John "Jellybean" Benitez, one of music's most accomplished and celebrated creative forces, the founding of H.O.L.A. Recordings in late 1995 represented still another defining moment in an already fabled career. Established through a unique joint venture among Benitez, Wasserstein Perella Entertainment, L.P. and Polygram, H.O.L.A. (Home of Latino Artists) is a fully funded, full-service independent record company that develops mainstream, pop, r & b and hip hop music by bilingual artists for simultaneous release in English and Spanish. In conceiving a company that mines the heretofore largely untapped Latino market, producer, composer and music impresario Jellybean Benitez has once again affirmed his commitment to creating positive Latino role models-and in the process introduced the listening public to a veritable treasure chest of richly talented artists.
In just over a year, and under Benitez' s deft guidance, H.O.L.A. has already made enormous strides. Among those recording with H.O.L.A. are: Reign, the 23-year-old Dominican dance-hall reggae sensation, whose acclaimed debut album Indestructible is climbing Billboard's Hot Dance Music Chart; Proyecto Uno, the revolutionary Latino superstar quartet, who as creators of a new musical style, merengue hip hop, are set to revitalize American dance music (their first album with H.O.L.A., New Era, has made its presence known on a host of Billboard Charts, including Hot 100 Singles, Top Latino Albums and Hot Dance Music); and Voices of Theory, a crackling quintet of Philadelphia-based Latino r & b harmonizers. Clearly, for Benitez, H.O.L.A. is an inspired mission.
To translate this mission into such an intriguing and exciting reality, Jellybean Benitez has capitalized on his nearly unrivaled wealth of expertise and track record of success as producer, composer, recording artist, music executive and great discoverer of talent. In a previous joint venture with Wasserstein Perella, Benitez founded JB Music Publishing (JMP), which has published and charted work by, among many others, such mega-selling artists as Boyz II Men, LL Cool J, Soul For Real, Mary J. Blige, Notorious B.I.G. and NAS, whose album It Was Written has sold in excess of two million copies and spent more than four months on Billboard's Top 200 Albums Chart (as of February '97). Other artists published by JMP and jamming up the charts include Flesh-n-Bone, KRS-One, Foxy Brown and the smash-hit double-platinum soundtrack to the motion picture "Space Jams." JMP is a division of Jellybean Holdings, L.L.C., which also includes songs from the music labels House of Fun, Lost in Music and Candyland. Benitez's dance label, Jellybean Recordings, has produced such hit artists as PULSE with Antoinette Roberson, whose song "The Lover That You Are" was the #1 Dance Record in America.
Jellybean Benitez's unerring ability to attract innovative and explosive talents to all his projects is a natural evolution of his own extraordinary, multi-layered musical journey. He is that most rare of music executives who has been on both sides of the glass, performing and producing with equal amounts of dedication, invention, skill and passion. The Bronx-born Benitez, a music lover since his early childhood, first found local fame as an ingeniously clever mix-it-up DJ at the Manhattan nightclub, Sanctuary. From then on, as word traveled fast, gigs followed at such clubs as Studio 54, Xenon and Electric Circus. Thus was a DJ superstar, with a distinctive and personally defined spinning style, born.
Following a professionally momentous run as DJ at Funhouse, where he explored the huge potential of dance music and the components of a 12-inch extended mix, Benitez was tapped to host the first incarnation of the now-classic WKTU radio station. Mixing an intense rapport with the listening audience and an unerring sense of what they wanted to hear, Benitez turned WKTU into the top-rated weekend dance show in America. To date, with Benitez still spinning the discs with thrilling imagination, WKTU remains radio's number-one music station.
At WKTU, Benitez gained prominence and acclaim for his wildly innovative remixing styles. Before long, the radio frenzy for his groundbreaking remixes moved record companies to seek him out for production on the retail level. The rest, of course, belongs to music history.
Benitez's behind-the-glass discography glitters gold and platinum with monster hits by such superstars as Barbra Streisand, Billy Joel, Pat Benatar, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson. Along the way, he has produced/re-mixed more than 30 number one hits and over 90 Top Ten Singles. Never straying far from his artistic and personal roots, he has created hits for such Latino stars as Julio Iglesias, Ruben Blades, Carlos Vives and Marc Anthony. He has also been widely hailed as the orchestrator of Madonna's incendiary arrival on the pop and dance music scene. His remixes on early Madonna smashes like "Borderline," "Lucky Star," "Burning Up" and her radio breakthrough "Holiday" helped propel arguably today's most famous star to music's epicenter. He has produced unforgettable tunes for dozens of contemporary music's most brilliant stars, including Whitney Houston and Sting. With all of his produced recordings and remixes, Benitez is recognized within the industry for his preeminent role in bridging the gap between pop and dance music-thus triggering a newfound mainstream awareness for contemporary dance composition.
Benitez also achieved critical and commercial kudos for his own compositions, including the fantastically well-received five-song EP Wotupski and a subsequent full-length LP, Just Visiting this Planet, which sold more than one million records worldwide for Chrysalis Records.
In a career marked by limitless creativity and bold experimentation, Benitez has entered into the motion picture arena with customarily fruitful results. He served as music supervisor for such films as "Carlito's Way," "The Perez Family," "Mi Vida Loca" and "Two Days In The Valley." He has mixed songs for "Back to the Future," "Flashdance," "Top Gun" and "Footloose," among others. In the world of television, he has composed theme songs for, among others, "The Ricki Lake Show" and John Leguizamo's much-heralded "House of Buggin'." The infatigable Benitez has also begun to work in the skyrocketing world of CD-Roms.
For Benitez, this genuinely awe-inspiring litany of achievements and laurels represents not the ultimate in accomplishment, but rather a catalyst to continue to explore new artistic avenues and make further creative inroads. With such projects as JB Music Publishing bringing in more and more artists under its umbrella, Jellybean will be able to expand his unique and influential musical vision.
With H.O.L.A., John "Jellybean" Benitez has perfectly integrated his depth of expertise and his sense of personal history into a one-of-a-kind company that is poised to make a major musical statement. For this tireless creative innovator, H.O.L.A.. is not just his latest red-hot venture, but also a living, breathing and musicmaking expression of a lifelong dream fulfilled. With, of course, many, many more dreams to come…