EP review by Mike O’Cull, independent music journalist. www.mikeocull.com
Bed Stuy Brooklyn hip-hop artist Oliver Benjamin is one of the most individualistic and forward-thinking voices on the New York music scene. His latest release is the EP Scorched Earth, a five-song blast of Benjamin’s cinematic and psychedelic rap style built on sample-based production and delivering a dark pulp/film noir vibe that keeps listeners focused on every bar he spits. He wrote, performed, produced, engineered, mixed, and mastered all five tracks of this project in Bed Stuy and his efforts have resulted in a record that sounds like no one else in the rap game today. It’s the first EP in a series Benjamin has planned and one listen will have you waiting impatiently to find out what’s coming up next.
The opening track, “They Always Quit When The Game Gets Good,” rocks a beat that samples Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla,” one of the greatest riffs of the 70s and shows off Benjamin’s ultra-confident lyrical skills. The track is a call-out to those throwing him shade and backstabbing from within from childhood to today and starts the record off with the right kind of attitude. Benjamin remarks that “haters been ducking me lately” and uses the song to prove that he’s got what it takes to silence any opposition.
“Black Tourmaline Music” is funky and esoteric flow through Benjamin’s mind that opens with him “Splashin’ the Jacuzzi in the back of my Civic” and goes forward from there. He paints with words and images that are often cryptic but still able to steer your emotions where he wants them to go. The production stacks up samples in a way that’s reminiscent of the Beastie Boys legendary Paul’s Boutique and has a lo-fi brilliance to it that’s a welcome break from the overproduced, stale beats that seem to be everywhere. Other highlights of this short set include “Mr. Date Night” and “Paint The Red Flags Green.” Oliver Benjamin is clearly in top form on Scorched Earth and hip-hop fans everywhere need to start feeling what he’s putting down. Buy this record!
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