The young Hickory, North Carolina artist, Benjamin Ken has just dropped his latest 8 track project, “Ben Here Before”. And much like his previous release, this is a great recording to listen to. It has just about every type of song for whatever mood you’re in. This feels like a rollercoaster, full of lush production and pure, unadulterated adrenaline. Again, considering his previous work, these are things we’ve come to expect from Ken, but on this project, the stakes are raised to all-time highs. Unlike new age rappers, Benjamin Ken is also a lyricist, you can go back to “Ben 2 Real” to see this.
But his music is also about energy and hauntingly beautiful soundscapes that push the boundaries of the genre that he’s been placed in. Moreover, what sets Ken apart from his peers is his keen ear and being able to amass a compelling series of genre-bending productions.
Opening tracks, “Play” and “Today” (ft Walt Finesse), do the psychedelic world proud, yet there are no hallucinations here, just coherent and well composed bodies of work. “Bust Downs” gets more explicit, packing incredible rhythmic vibes, it’s part of making this recording Ken’s most daring and replay worthy project yet.
Only a select few of highly-anticipated albums tend to generate a significant vibe on playback. While it’s usually the major label artists who are able to get the job done with big-budget releases, sometimes an independent project comes along and creates that same exciting listening experience. This happens with “Ben Here Before”.
Blessed with a distinct tone, Benjamin Ken is drenched in trendy autotune effects on many tracks, while still staying clear and straightforward enough for you to pick up the verses. On “I Know” Ken is upfront in the mix, while the production successfully exhibits his subtle eccentricity and left-field sensibilities.
It just the right level of creativity and sensibility to help expand a growing genre. The negative side of trap flavored music is the lack of personality in many artists. Often trap rappers are so caught up in themselves that they lack a sense of musicality. Of course, there are exceptions, and Benjamin Ken is one of them.
“Insecure” brings in a healthy dose of playful melody as Ken rides a bouncy beat while constantly changing flows. Boisterous and flamboyant in places, dreamy and ethereal in others, surprise is a key factor as you really don’t know what beat is around the corner when listening.
“Invitational” stays booming but minimal, wallowing in the sticky liquid melody Benjamin Ken lays down bar after bar. But his vision of how he wants his music to sound and appear is even more fascinating on the languid “Deep In Love”, which has the catchiest warped vocal hook on the project.
“Ben Here Before” isn’t just a damn good project, its Benjamin Ken best project yet. From the flows to the production and its overall vibrant feel, “Ben Here Before” is built to catapult Benjamin Ken to a headline act as soon as this project gets heard.
The unique combination of rap, modern R&B and trap sounds isn’t an easy blend to achieve without falling into the genre’s overworked tropes. But Benjamin Ken delivers in terms of fresh spicy flows, lyrical value and unique soundscapes.