Who is the dude with the umbrella in the OutKast video for “The Way You Move”? I think I am in love with him.
He’s Farnsworth Bentley, arguably the most dapper man in hip-hop. “It’s a tradition in my family that when a gentleman turns 25, he gets a fedora,” he told me. “In another twenty years, my generation’s going to be passing down velour jogging suits–that’s not stylish.” He added, “If you don’t know how to tie a bowtie, that’s like not being able to drive a stick.” In addition to the Outkast video, Bentley has been in videos for Usher and P. Diddy, appeared in the movie Honey, and was featured in MTV’s Making the Band 2. “Half the things you see me in, I sneak into,” he said.
Bentley is the alter ego of the extremely sharp Derek Watkins, who grew up in Atlanta with Andre Benjamin (aka Andre 3000 of Outkast) and graduated from Morehouse College in 1997. When he moved to New York, he became known on the hip-hop scene for being impeccably dressed; in 2001, P. Diddy hired him as his assistant and dubbed him “Farnsworth.” Watkins said, “I set out to create buzz for my brand. I wanted to turn myself into a character like Fire Marshall Bill or Mork from Ork.” It paid off when he was photographed holding an umbrella over P. Diddy in St. Tropez, and was identified as Diddy’s butler. “It was all a big hustle,” he confided.
Watkins is currently working on various media projects, and developing his own line of umbrellas. “I eventually will hire an agent and a publicist,” he said, “but I want to see how much I can hustle for myself.”
(Excerpted from the 2006 book Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton’s Little John?: Music’s Most Enduring Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed, published by Three Rivers Press, written by Gavin Edwards.)