It's been some time since we heard from Benjiman. Back in 2005, the rapper from Oregon released his debut album, Activate, on BEC and made several guest appearances with bands such as Kutless and Falling Up. Activate drew some attention and praise, but there was no follow up until now. Four years later, Benjiman is back with S.K.R.I.P.T. (Spreading Kingdom Realities In Perilous Times).
Activate was most definitely a rap album, but it strayed closer to rock and rapcore than towards typical hip-hop. S.K.R.I.P.T. continues this trend, but less so. Tracks like "Cella," the title track, and "Our Spot" feature Benjiman rapping to an accompaniment of crunchy, almost metal, electric guitars. That said, there is plenty of soul and hip-hop here, as well as some mellower pop influences. There is also a dance feel, as many tracks feature as much funky keys and electronic effects as you could want. In addition, we find several guest appearances, including ones by fellow artists Paul Wright and Shawn McDonald.
The lyrics here are very personal and Benjiman certainly has a message he wants to get out clearly. Included in the liner notes are extensive explanations for each song, which are very helpful. "Back Home" finds Benjiman pondering the hardships he's experienced, then turning around and comparing them to what Jesus suffered for us. It's a timely reminder for any Christian. "Anx" addresses the difficulties of touring as a small independent artist. Other tracks express a determination to boldly worship Christ, and of course there are the expected hype songs such as "Cella" and "Stand Up." "Our Spot" has an amusing lyric where the rapper contradicts common stereotypes and says, "I'm not street, I'm not hood. I roll the countryside straight up out the woods."
S.K.R.I.P.T. is not short, and as you get later into the album, there is a definite lack of variety. Yet, this is a very tight and professional release, with a nice contrast between heavy, rock oriented rap and smooth, soulful hip-hop. There's a little bit of something to appeal to any taste, so this is a worthwhile buy for both rock and rap fans. Benjiman is an unheralded name in the industry, but he is putting out music that can compete with the best, and it's great to have him back.- Review date: 6/24/09, written by Timothy Estabrooks of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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