Benzino - Redemption

Benzino is no stranger to the world of hip hop. As far back as 1991 he was a member of the respected Roxbury group Almighty RSO. Benzino was brought up in the four corners neighbourhood of Boston, Massachusetts. His lyrics which share the same philosophical thread as Nas and Tupac represent the steets and this is a recurring theme in his work.

The single "Rock The Party" featuring Mario Winans opens with some unforgettable primal percussion. Like Ice T, Benzino raps about the gangsta lifestyle and how he works his magic on the ladies. With it's thumping bass line this dance orientated track should be a massive success in the clubs. It tells a story about a day in his life which is pretty memorable and one of those few party tunes which manages to be commercial yet credible.

While musically "Make You Wanna Holla" is chilled, mellow and even seductive it's lyrical message is as hard hitting as it gets. Black oppression and the difficulties of life are explored in detail. The serious message is that although fame has it's rewards problems don't go away, they just become more complicated. A lot funkier, fresher and frenetic is "Neva Shuvin" which features the ubiquitous Wyclef and M3. On this song Benzino looks back at his experiences in the ghetto. "X-Tra Hot" featuring Daz Dillinger and Jewell is reminiscent of the impact Busta Rhymes has, but falls into the trap of a lot of hip-hop music by giving off mysogynistic bravado as male empowerment which is a very dangerous message to give out.

Moby and to a fuller extent Eminem received a vitriolic dissing on the confrontational "Pull Your Skirt Up". Benzino questions Eminem's hard man status. It's a bit typical of the genre, but I suspect Marshall Mathers will be scribbling down lyrics as we speak in his defence for a duel of lyrical bitching of the finest kind. Benzino walks it like he talks it and his choice of collaborations is inspired. While at times his outllok on life can veer towards the stereotypical, his lyrics can genuinely move you and most importantly the guy can rap. Well worth investing in a copy.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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