Benefit dropped an entire self-titled album for free on Napster in 2000 that was of excruciatingly low-quality, but proudly recorded through one of those pre-2K skinny white $12 microphones that only a pale, shit-talking nerd who slammed full cans of Dr. Pepper while on late-night Counter Strike hostage rescue’s would own. The shitty microphone and equally terrible $10 sound card were proudly pictured on the album’s imaginary cover that was always dropped into downloader’s desktop trash bin to save space on the burned mp3 mixtapes CDs.
The crummy quality of an otherwise decent album from a virtual nobody (who immediately became an overnight hip-hop icon to every aspiring suburbanite emcees) was also a major middlefinger.gif to the old money of the music industry who were out-of-touch and unaware of the power that online file-sharing websites held over the way musicians and music lovers would share and consume media in the very near future.
But, more important than the poor quality of Benefit’s innovative recording method was how he had outsmart the studios, the industry and the radio by recording an album that sounded like the pre-mixed version of something more polished, yet still manage to achieve tremendous buzz with a non-existing budget, and a few start up requirements that could be afforded by most kid’s weekly allowance, or collecting bottles from the neighborhood for an afternoon.
Unknowingly, Benefit exposed the simplicity of DIY recording to a bored group of lost teenagers en-masse. So, he’d unwittingly created an endlessly obnoxious stream of half-serious competition who were all file-sharing and using identical drum loops, synthesizers and recording effects, which turned every single downloadable sample into a giant collection of clichéd sounds that made it more difficult for real DJs to find unfuckwittable samples, anymore, so this over-saturation of accessibility into an online world of DIY hip-hop, complete with tutorials and starter kits, both revolutionized and ruined what it meant to be an emcee.
So, Benefit vanished to Thailand for nearly a decade to escape the DIY hip-hop culture that he helped unwittingly popularize, but still relished in the irony that he was the first artist to go “Napster platinum,” but eventually he vanished, entirely, leaving his fans to search the internet to find hints, clues, and singles from the mysterious emcee who won our attention, but didn’t want it, or couldn’t handle the responsibility of it.
After nearly a decade of musical silence, he had reappeared in America after years of, presumably, mastering his craft technically and lyrically, polishing his cadence, flow and delivery, and he dropped a few more visuals and verses to tease his overly dedicated fans on Soundcloud, YouTube and his own website (www.benefitofficial.com) to remind us that he’s always been sick…
Unfortunately, the last video that Benefit dropped was a rendition of a verse already recorded, the instrumental remix done by New Jersey legend Mr. Green for his video series, Live From The Bedroom, with new visuals produced by Benefit that begin, presumably, at Duck Down Records headquarters, home of late, but still fuckin’ great, Sean P, but then Ben jumps into his Lexus and peace’s out to a back alley to spit a verse recorded two years prior for the Malik B. and Mr. Green Metal Is Out track from their Unpredictable album that dropped 2014.
There is a video for an album he produced with a good friend, Blitzo.Glyphics called Violent Climate that is directed, edited and produced by Benefit for Blitz’s Dark Matters LP that was “born from the brink of death and inspired by the most intense psychological pressures,” and was produced entirely by Benefit with an unapologetically raw and thought provoking soundscape, released in October of 2016 and, as of publishing, only has 179 views for the full album on the official Blitzo.Glyphics YouTube channel.
And if you listen closely, you’ll hear Benefit rhyme on a few tracks…
But, that is where the musical dust settles on the rarely seen hip-hop rookie-vet, aside from an occasional tweet irrelevant to new music being released.