The Croydon-based dubstep producer relied purely on his PlayStation to create his first major track hits, now he’s known as dubstep’s founding father. Listening to Chapter II, Benga’s first album with world-renowned record label Columbia Records/Sony, you cannot doubt his talent and producing skills.
Chapter II marks not only his transition within the genre as a growing entrepreneur and musician, but also his goals to reach more far cast ears and listeners as a world-class level producer, mainly competing with the USA’s best. Benga has been heavily criticised since he rejected his future involvement within the genre of dubstep, instead wishing to progress within the industry and maintain active, innovative and reaching new musical realms.
Chapter II opens with a track full of jaw shuddering drops. ‘Yellow’ smacks the listener in the face with 170bpm of shrill warped synths, old school looping dubstep and the robotic echoing lyrics “nobody gonna’ hold me down, cos’ everybody knows I am the best in town.” Just in case you don’t know Benga or his reputation within the genre, ‘Yellow’ most definitely emphasises this point.
‘Smile’ swings from pop to garage and back around to dubstep again within the course of the track. This track counteracts album opener ‘Yellow’ perfectly, slightly more mellow yet a sure winner for maximising radio-play and a heavily featured track on any DJ’s playlist for a night out.
‘Click and Tap’ unveils Benga’s raw talent as a producer; mystical dreamlike samples, two-step rhythm and electronic synths reverberating beneath the syncopated drumbeats. This track is all about percussion and it leaves you in awe listening to it, who knows what warped video producers would create for this track!
Tracks ‘Forefather’, ‘Higher’ and ‘Waiting’ show exactly what pairing up with a record label like Columbia Records/Sony can do to an artists popularity and credibility. Heavy bass weight drops, infectious looping bass wobbles and injections of synths, climes and harmonious vocals from artists such as Kano, P Money and Marlene. Surely it’s these tracks Benga reflects upon when saying he’s ‘over the moon’ with the album.
Benga’s already flaunted and teased fans with his producing genius by unveiling the mind-blowing video for ‘I Will Never Change’. Directed by Us, the video focuses on the physicality of music, creating a unique video that not only lets the music talk for itself but by using 960 uniquely cut vinyl discs they create a digital waveform that will have the envy and accolade from every video director across the globe.
While the video holds it own, and while you stick it on repeat in star struck awe, the track remains simple and sticks to its roots. While reflecting something about Benga himself within it, ‘I Will Never Change’ foreshadows Benga’s stardom and musical genius. Benga, please don’t ever change.
‘There’s No Soul’ and ‘Running’ emphasise Benga’s title as a world-class producer, as he splinters in different directions genre wise across the album’s entirety. The album covers a wide vary of genres from garage, pop and right across to injections of the deep-south, harmonicas and purrs of jazz and blues in ‘There’s No Soul’ while ‘Running’ grips onto the fluctuating reggae sway throughout the tracks entirety.
‘Chapter II to inspire’ closes the album with the ultimate bass-thumping drop, yet another teaser and musing towards the future of dubstep. Inspiring future producers and artists to create something new, something unrecognisable. Alongside ‘Higher Speed’ these tracks mix scattered syncopated drumbeats, chime and percussion samples, unbelievable bass weight and heavy synth use to create crazy new sounds and another musical realm for Benga to explore and reign.