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A year ago, Portland rapper Daniyel tweeted about his ambition to have a music video directed by buzzy videographer Cole Bennett.
But that only made it more surprising when, out of the blue, Bennett recently reached out to Daniyel on Instagram asking the Portland artist to collaborate.
"Honestly, I was just starstruck," says Daniyel. "When he DM'd me, I was pinching myself, like, 'Is this real?'"
This week, Bennett will shoot a video for Daniyel's "Lost Ones," a song in honor of Daniyel's aunt, who died of cancer, and his uncle, who drowned.
The video will star other Portlanders who have been affected by loss, including the family of Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears, a Black transgender woman who was recently murdered at a vigil for another homicide victim, Tyrell Penney, who was killed in a shooting last month.
Daniyel recorded "Lost Ones" eight months ago and thought the track hit its peak when he played it for his mom, who cried when she heard the tribute to her late sister.
But unbeknownst to Daniyel, a mutual friend sent the track to Bennett, who's fresh off directing a video for Eminem. Enamored with Daniyel's song, the Chicago director reached out on social media and offered to make the video for "Lost Ones."
Working with a director like Bennett—who's also made videos for Juice WRLD and Lil Xan—is a career-defining moment for an artist who's just getting his start.
But for the 18-year-old rapper, the achievement is mostly personal.
"I really hope we can create something that the families in this video can cherish forever," says Daniyel. "This song is already very special for me and my family."