Is It Worth It? is the unique new album from Miami, USA-based hip hop artist Benarr C.
By Graeme Smith
From the outset, I could tell Is It Worth It? would be different from a lot of contemporary hip-hop out there. The opening title track is over and done in less than two minutes, but within it are packed non-stop verses and textured, soulful instrumentals. Benarr takes classic-feeling instrumentals and bring them right up to date through his lyrics that explore the trials and tribulations of the modern day.
His message focusses down onto his native Haiti in track two Don’t Turn Around as he delivers his unique story of migrating to the US for a better future, and the pressures that come with that. The bars are lightning fast once again and there’s a huge amount to unpack in his tracks. They demand multiple listens.
Track three Hollywood Gold slows things down a little (it’s almost three minutes long!) Even with the slower tempo, Benarr fills his verses with well-observed autobiographical detail and social commentary. One of the themes of the album is his relationship issues and it comes through loud and clear in Hollywood Gold.
Truth Never Told is a collaboration with Tye2K, Novu$XXX and V!$!0N, and Benarr’s collaborators bring extra vocal textures to proceedings over cinematic beats. The result feels like a story unfolding, almost visually. It’s an album highlight.
As the album proceeds into its second half, things continue to canter along at pace. Benarr spits his take on different aspects of the American existence, from threat to life in Survive, the shallow desire for money and fame in Slavery, to the pandemic in Dead Presidents.
Skit #1 is an unexpected spoken word interlude which reinforces the album’s themes and sets up its final act – the rich two-track soundscape that is Nobody Cares and Pure Intentions. Nobody Cares is a personal mediation, telling the story of Benarr’s relationship with his family in both the US and Haiti, and the related struggle to keep money coming in. Pure Intentions is perhaps the most experimental track of the album, heavy with samples and plodding electric organ. Just when I thought I had a grip on Benarr’s sound, this ending came as a complete surprise.
And, perhaps, it’s an appropriate close for an artist who has such a fresh take on the hip hop genre. Benarr has read the handbook, tore it up, and wrote his own and Is It Worth It? is a triumph. You can check it out below. Even if you feel you’re not really into hip hop, it may well convert you.