In truth, the timing of this is incredibly fortunate…
When Off Licence Magazine was conceived within the beer can and ready meal packet ash-tray-decorated four walls of student housing in Brighton, the brightest local talent was decided to be a key feature. So, when one of the most talented, often-elusive rappers in the seaside town announced he was to drop his long-awaited debut album, we were blessed.
This is genuinely a big moment for hip-hop in Brighton and for Yogocop Records who the 24-year-old associates with. They have a strong following who buy into their self-described ‘Dreebiness,’ enjoying and rapping about a lifestyle that balances all the fun of being a British rapper with the realities of it, too. Topics that are addressed in Benaddict’s album, ‘The Garden of England,’ amongst the heartfelt lyricism, imaginative storytelling and nostalgic beats that have caught the attention of his admirers since emerging on the scene as a teenager. Now 24-years-old, he told Off Licence Magazine he feels not only has he grown up, but his sound has too.
“It’s like completely different, but it’s on the same vibe… do you know what I mean?” he told us on a Brighton park bench, discussing the sound of this then unheard album. “Yeah, we know what you mean,” we said politely. But, in hindsight and now outside of the sociopolitics of an interview, such a statement makes very little sense – that is until you hear the record. Expect a full review of it as part of the build-up to the first issue of the magazine, in which Benaddict’s given us a lengthy, insightful interview that we can’t wait to put in off licences. For now, though, here’s a 5-minute chunk in which the man of the hour talks about the album that has just arrived and more.
“I’ve done more music in the last year than I had in all the years before it,” he says when asked why it’s taken him five years of being one of the most highly rated rappers in the underground UK scene to finally put out an album. “A lot of different things have kept it this long. When I was making all those dub plates that have been around for a while now, I was doing a fuck load of drugs. I was doing drugs more than I was doing music. It’s only now that I’ve sorted myself out that I’ve come at my music from a different perspective.”
As well as potentially explaining his name, Benaddict opening up about how drugs affected him helps to look under a certain rock in this kind of British hip-hop. A rock under which you’ll find the realities of a lifestyle where the narcotic-infused, all fun and games atmosphere of the music videos are juxtaposed by more sombre scenes off camera and off the mic. Concentrating on the music has been the way out of such a state of mind; “definitely the music has helped me get away from that, and vice versa.”
“I wasn’t even making music for like a year – I just sacked it off. Felt like I had some more important things to do. I was actually contemplating just stopping music altogether, and then my mate Slipz (fellow Yogocop head) was like ‘naaah you gotta get on it, man.’ So I did, and I’m fucking so glad I did.”
Benaddict’s ability to talk about such deep topics as those mentioned on this park bench in such a casual, nonchalant way is a skill. A skill that he uses in his music, just as he always has. The lyrical content is at the heart of every track he makes as it journeys from his brain to an audio file via his MPC – but don’t call it conscious rap.
“I don’t like ‘conscious rap’ as a term. Everyone’s conscious – or you’re dead,” says Benaddict, breathing and alive whilst sat next to us, as he explains the content in the new album. “I see it as more telling – a bit more intimate than my old work. It’s just real. The old stuff was my perception back then, and the new stuff is what it is now.”
“It’s on that 90s vibe and there’s still a few tunes about painting graffiti and that… But, there’s only so many songs you can make about smoking weed unless you’re Cypress Hill, that’s why I was worried about this album because the topics aren’t the sort of thing that I’m known for.”
The stuff he talks about on The Garden of England, though, will leave his fans knowing him a little better. It’s also worth noting that those who have been listening and smoking the finest weed that The Level in Brighton can offer along with him, have been growing up, too. Benaddict is now rapping about things that are close to him, but in doing so is resonating with an audience whose lives would have a similar soundtrack if they too had the musical talent of this rapper-producer. And of his collaborators, of course, of which there are many on this well-supported project.
“A lot of people got involved – it wasn’t a conscious decision really it just happened. A lot of my boys are on the label and it kind of made sense to have a few of them on there. Nuphzed, Illiterate, Awfer… and this sick rapper from Germany called Omaure.”
Omaure’s impressive cameo aside, the inclusion of the cream of Brighton’s hip-hop crop has meant that as well as displaying his own undeniable talent – finally on a full-length album – Benaddict and Yogocop are showing the talent that resides in Brighton, digging in Rarekind Records and weaving through the falafel-eating hipsters in the lanes. The challenge though is, as he and Nuphzed address on the below song, finding the balance between smashing out albums and just simply being smashed.
“That’s what the basis of Yogocop is. I think it’s a dilemma that a lot of people face. There are some DOPE rappers about, but sometimes we only get as far as going out on a Friday, rapping at 3am and doing a load of nizz.”
Call it a lifestyle. Call it a bad habit. Call the council and tell them to keep the noise down. Call it whatever you want. But if albums like The Garden of England are the result of the way in which this country’s rapping talent lives, then those early morning freestyles that are probably forgotten after passing out, are just part of a beautifully dark, ‘dreeby’ writing process.
Listen to The Garden of England now and read the full feature with Benaddict when the magazine hits your local off licence.