Benjamin Elias Gets You There with New Album On the Way
Although the conception of innovation in pop music may seem oxymoronic, Benjamin Elias’s debut album, On the Way, proves that’s not the case. The emcee illustrates numerous ways to reinvent the catchiness of popular music while defying, and in other instances defining, conventions in the process of this 10-track affair.
Rarely is one of these tunes bereft of some heartfelt singing, usually on the part of a female vocalist, despite all of the rapper’s rhymes, cadence, and particular sense of inflection. Although, if you listen hard enough you just might hear him hit a high note or two, which appears to be the case on the introduction to “MAC”.
Even rarer is the track that’s not dedicated to some sort of babe, which isn’t surprising as the Long Player borrows the classic title from any self-respecting gallant en route to a rendezvous with a paramour or two. Viewed in this context, the lush chords of bountiful keys accompanying most of these numbers fit right in as a credible sonic landscape to wow the ladies and get the fellas playing this record to achieve the same thing.
Still, it’s the different directions the artist goes in that differentiate this work from any other fun forays into rap. He temporarily abandons his motif for some much needed medicating with TONYG on “Remedy”, in which the wonders of mind alteration—in all their amazingly colorful, recreational forms—take over. The uniqueness (and conviction) of the snare alone is worth the price of the LP on this one, as Elias, G, and an uncredited songstress weave rhymes and melodies around each other and whatever else they had going on at the time.
The sumptuous crooning comes together with the lush synths well on OTW, which is not only endowed with rich percussion that almost sounds live at times (though it likely isn’t), but also some bonafide live keyboard playing during the outro. Other tracks, such as “Flowers”, make no attempt to hide their happy appeal with their bouncy chords and timely wailing of Jenny Penkin on the hook. Here, the pop aspirations go from overtones to overt, perhaps revealing the artist’s true ambition for the project.
With production credits going to Oscar Fox and Raz Stamper, On the Way is sure to get you there, one way or another.