‘Aware, The Mixtape’ is rapper Benny Mails first real stab at a formal body of work and it’s a fierce, sharp and soulful offering from the get-go.
Last month, Mails met with Clash to discuss the upcoming release which he described as “a bit of a mash-up. But that’s the beauty of a mixtape. It’s not totally cohesive and it’s not ‘finished’ at all, but it’s finished.” A diverse project which touches on personal issues (ADHD, anxiety) and the growing pains of the hotly-tipped UK hip-hop star, ‘ATM’ is as relatable as it is nuanced.
Professing “I’m not a Muslim, not a Christian, not a Buddhist, I’m Benny and I’m clueless, it’s seamless” on opener ‘Religious Freestyle’, the prophetic confidence gleams effortlessly from this fresh wordsmith. Confronting his demons on ‘Mantra’ and blissfully capturing the life-source of London on ‘stix’, Benny’s flow traverses issues of psycho-geography, heritage and belonging in a claustrophobic 21st century.
Confronting demons head on and penning jams for a lost generation, one of Mail’s strongest maxims on ‘Senses’ runs: “Each week we sleep through life and panic…I won’t turn to Xanax, no I won’t have it.” Referencing the normalised and disassociated sub-culture that has consumed a new wave of hip-hop artists, Benny’s verses are didactic, confessional and honest. His music is an exercise in therapy that insightfully draws us in as listeners and teases out a cathartic cleansing one bar at a time.
A dynamic and diverse mixtape of colourful emotion, ‘Aware’ is a stellar invitation into Benny’s crystal clear world. Packed full of intriguing collaborations with Art Daley, Marika Hackman, Daestreet and Ragz Originale, this kaleidoscopic project is a solid promise of great things to come from one of South London’s newest, prolific rappers.
Words: Ryan Lewis Nair
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