Introducing the Lewisham native and rapper.

South London Benjamin AD
South London Benjamin AD

Any music video that opens at south London institution chicken spot Morley’s is likely to be the brainchild of an artist very much schooled in the idiosyncrasies of London culture. Fact.

Case in point? Lewisham-hailed rapper Benjamin AD, who has been making waves with his brand of laidback hip-hop – infused his charismatic spit and meditative lyricism (check his late-night bop “Backseat Driving” for an example).

We caught up with the London artist below…

What was the moment you realised that music was what you wanted to do?

It was something I’ve always done. From writing bars during class in secondary school, learning to produce, learning how to construct songs… As the years rolled on it was the only consistent thing that stayed with me in life. I guess the penny really dropped when I started gaining a following, from people on ends to online.

Who did you listen to growing up?
Erykah Badu, Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill, Marvin Gaye to Curtis Mayfield. D’Angelo, loads of stuff, Acid Jazz, so much more I can’t even remember. That was the stuff I’d hear second hand though, I’m pretty sure the first albums I bought in my life were Styles P’s “A Gangster and A Gentleman”, and Mobb Deep’s “Infamy”, on the same day if my memory serves me well. I loved Nas, Big L, Cormega, to Clipse… and Grime of course, Grime was basically the language of our teens.

How did growing up in south London influence your music?

London overall is a hotbed, with riches alongside little money, cultures colliding and all that stuff. South definitely has it’s own unique character though. I guess the Giggs wave was influential particularly for me. Everyone in my ends wanted to rap, a lot of people stopped making grime.

Where do you get your main inspirations from for your lyrics?

My life, or others around me. A lot of my music is almost semi-autobiographical. It can be feelings that I capture from the day or the week I’ve had or conversations I’ve had with my people. Sometimes I’m responding to the vibe of the instrumental, sometimes it could be a film or a line of thought that resonated with me and I build from there. What I make heavily depends on how I’m feeling on that day.

You put your music on hold for a while to study Sound Design at university – what made you want to master the technical side before pursuing it any further?
With my degree, my thinking was to learn, to get another skill under my belt. Sound comes before music. It’s also very different to music. The ability to manipulate sound and understand it helped within my music, but the two are very different. I don’t think I’d ever have studied anything music based, as I was scared it would rob me of my expression and intuition. I’ve always been fearful of becoming generic. I always had the intention of re-releasing music, and now I can say I’m back with purpose and consistency.

How do you want people to feel when they listen to your music?

I want people to feel whatever the feeling I’m conveying is based on the song. If I’m sad then I wanna tell the story well enough that you are in it, rather than looking at it. The same goes with all of the emotions and tones out there.

You’ve talked about how you want your music to help embolden other men and let them know it’s OK to express their emotions – why is this so important to you?
I say men in particular only because I’m a man, and I’ve seen it growing up within myself and people around me. As men, a lot of us have the idea of what a man should be which often isn’t very human.

What’s next for you/what are you excited about?
The next single is called “Oxytocin”, which I’m really excited about. It’s something different to what people have heard, and one of my favourite songs I’ve made right now. Then after that, we got the EP coming. All unheard, which again, is exciting.


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