Angel Year EP, Vol. 1
Long Island, United States
Starting the first day of the year with an EP release is brave. Very brave. It’s a sign that an artist is ready for change, that they mean the path that they are walking and that they are completely fearless in doing so. Long Island based rapper/songwriter/producer Ben Flexin has done just that with his latest release ‘Angel Year EP, Vol. 1’. 7 songs totally just under 20 minutes of pure US rap.
‘93’ Piece Prize’ begins with a motivational message of power, unity and inspiration by Nelson Mandela. Conscious hip-hop is the theme here. A steady drum loop acts as a heartbeat whilst the melodic backwards strings add an air of possession to the production. A strong opening message.
‘Jamaica Ave’ takes listeners back into good old school soul with its vocal samples. Things change and fast, doing a complete 180 into a fierce and angry reflection within the verses. This is a song that will have you in mixed emotions.
‘One Hit Wonder’ is dark. Very dark. Cinematic. All consuming. Eerie keys hold the melody along with a death march style kick lingering in the background. A mix of uplifting instrumentation stalks listeners whilst Ben Flexin spits emo rap vocals on top of a bed of demons. This song will completely move you and fuel you to express things that you bottle up somewhere deep.
‘the Haunting of Nickie Barnes’ continues to haunt the minds of listeners. Sounds of guns, an eerie fairground melody invites souls to play in the darkness. The story? One that is personal to the artist yet all so relatable on a global scale. A distorted vocal closes the path to hell.
Now time for something a little more gentle. ‘Highest in the Garment District/2 in the Freezer’ sweeps in with its Naz and Wu Tang similarities as it heads back to the conscious hip-hop that was present in the earlier part of this project. Paced to perfection, soulful yet punchy and to the point Ben Flexin showcases alternative elements that consist within his artistic talents.
‘Shordie’ talks of growing up in the projects, and the struggles of escaping its cycle. Jazz instrumentation brings an air of freshness, whilst bell synths take you into a place of wonderous exploration. One thing that I love about the artistry of Ben Flexin is the way that he effortlessly integrates statements of motivational speech within his works. It adds to the effectiveness of the lyrics.
As we come to a close, Ben Flexin takes us further back in time and into a 60/70s soul feel. Motown comes to mind. Reference to artist Usher – “Let it burn”, “Fresh Prince” – the lyrical content talks of 90s/00s to make this finalising piece one that contains a whole time capsule.
I would return to this EP in a heartbeat. There are elements within elements that just capture you. Words that you need to hear once again and a whole variety of rap based music.