It sounds like rapper Benjamin Elia$ had quite an interesting upbringing, having been born and partially raised in Denver but then moving to Tel Aviv when he was 13. Living in two such starkly different cultures gave him a unique perspective that he feels translates to his music. His debut album On the Way was recorded in Tel Aviv and shows an interesting contrast between emotive, contemplative lyrics and music with lots of pop cachet.
From the artist:
“This album is about self-discovery. I tried to create a project that really takes you on that journey…My natural approach to music is as a lyricist and storyteller, but rather than leaning on that element I chose to go with pop-style production and melodic choruses.” This decision really reflects in every track of On the Way, where Elia$ toggles between sort of flirty, pop-inspired lyrics and more introspective topics. The music is all pop, however, inspired by hip hop and R&B’s history.
The title track of On the Way sets the tone for the album, beginning as a funk-based love song with female vocals similar to “I’m Real” by Jennifer Lopez and Jah Rule. The lyrics aren’t nearly as boastful as that, however, discussing the difficulty of dealing with a relationship when life and mental health issues can weigh a person down.
“The Message” is another old school-inspired track; it will remind a lot of 90s hip hop fans of an updated Big Pun and Fat Joe’s “Still Not a Player” but once again the lyrics are very contemplative and even self-effacing. Elia$ bravely discusses the trappings of being “gifted” and having to make decisions about one’s future early on, potentially losing oneself and one’s love in the process.
A lot of the themes of the tracks on On the Way seem to deal with letting a partner down in a relationship due to different circumstances, ranging from mental health to feeling overwhelmed to just not wanting it enough. While Elia$ has said it’s an album of self-discovery and some of the lyrics are quite heavy, it’s couched in the story of a relationship’s ups and downs and, seemingly, its denouement. This makes On the Way even more relatable possibly than the upbeat hip hop and R&B music. The whole package is comprehensive and uplifting because even though Elia$ discusses some heavy topics, in both the music and vocals there’s always a glimmer of hope.
On the Way is out now. Click here to purchase or stream on multiple platforms and check out the beautifully done video for “The End” feat. Maya below.