Benjamin A.D.’s soulful poetry matches London grit to something almost otherworldly. Brought up around grime but wanting something that was truly his own, he started to blend slower tempos with a soulful feel, coming up with a sound that was extremely addictive, but nobody could truly pin down.
“As the years have gone on I became more comfortable in myself,” he smiles. “I’m made up of loads of different elements. That’s what we are, anyway. Loads of different fusions of elements that we’ve liked, and they stick to us in certain ways. Whether we like ‘em or not!”
There’s an element of late night introspection to the Lewisham artist’s work, that sense of looking inwards. In conversation, too, his whispered exactness prods for the exact word to use at the exact right time to use it. “I think I’m still exploring,” he admits. “I’ve always wanted to rap, I’ve always had a fascination and love for the music. But it’s not just rap – it’s Stevie Wonder, as well. Marvin Gaye and Erykah Badu. There’s so many different sides of music.”
Probing and exploring each of these areas in turn, he’s working towards a substantial project at the end of 2020. It’s the climax of a year fraught with introspection, a time in which he’s learned to re-evaluate the pace of his own existence. “We’ve got all this time now – whether we like it or not,” he says. “It’s funny how you get used to feeling like you have no time. It’s a stress that you deal with everyday – every day is a rush.”
There’s something that lets him stand out, though, a factor that allows Benjamin A.D. to move in his own lane. “My mind,” he shrugs. “That’s what makes everyone different. It’s that ability to try and be comfortable enough in your own skin, and not feel like you have to do something because other people are doing it. That’s all we offer to each other – our own unique perspective. That’s one of the only things that we have that is truly ours… if we cling on to it.”
An outstanding rap artist with a palpable sense of soul, Benjamin A.D. leaves Clash with a promise: “I feel like my best work is always ahead of me.”
WHAT: Gritty UK rap with a soulful sensibility.
WHERE: Lewisham, London.
3 Songs: ‘Oxytocin’, ‘Backseat Driving’, ‘Check In’
FACT: A huge Arsenal fan as a kid, his first football hero was Ian Wright.
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Words: Robin Murray
Photography: Joel Smedley
Fashion: Zarina Shukri
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