Benjamin J – “No White” (Mixtape Review)

Some people may look at the title and cover art of Benjamin J‘s “No White” and see controversy. African American children, presumably from the slave era, accompanied by a title like that is just asking for trouble in today’s social and political climate. Good. Come to your own conclusion about it, just make sure you pay enough attention to discover the mind of one of North Carolina’s top underground talents.

Benjamin starts the mixtape off with “What if I Lose You,” an onslaught of creativity that had me captivated from the first line. I was genuinely impressed with the variety of metaphors, analogies, and similes that he used, and he never slowed up throughout the rest of the mixtape. At no point did I feel he became predictable, which is one of the biggest pitfalls of young rappers today. If I can complete your supposedly original line after only hearing the first three words, you most likely aren’t going to turn any heads.

The production of “No White” perfectly matches up with Ben’s laid-back flow. None of the beats were overpowering, and there was no struggle between vocals and instrumentals. Every second of the 46 minute run time felt clean and natural. There isn’t much else to say about it as quality speaks for itself.

If there is anything to fault, it’s Ben’s writing structure. Not his flow, nor his wordplay- his structure. There are a good amount of lines that don’t quite fit because they either stretch the bar too long or come up a bit short. Additionally, his rhyme patterns are a little on the basic side, going with A-A-B-B-C-C patterns, or maybe an A-B-A-B-C-C every now and then. I personally really enjoy listening to an artist that can carry the same rhyming syllable through four bars or more before switching to another. With most of the tracks on this mixtape, Ben runs with pairs exclusively. That is not to say that what he is saying isn’t impressive or engaging, I just think that there is room to expand his technical skill. His last album dropped in July, which means he churned out an entirely new 14 track project in around three months. That is impressive to say the least, but perhaps he could have taken just another month to fine tune some of his songs to make them great instead of simply good.

Regardless, even if Ben’s lines don’t have the syllabic precision of Eminem, the delivery of these lines makes up for any awkwardness they may carry. The vast majority of the mixtape sounds anything but forced, and this was accomplished solely because his style is just that smooth and respectable. Top to bottom, the energy of “No White” is relaxing and upbeat while still maintaining an air of seriousness and gravity. Benjamin J wants to be taken seriously with the release of this project.I say you’re a fool not to.

Rating: 7/10

Highlights: Lyricism, Production, Mixing, Style

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