Benjamin A.D

Selected by: James Keith
Photography: Ray Fiasco

Name: Benjamin A.D

Where He’s From: Lewisham, South East London

Genre: UK Rap/R&B

File Next To: A2, Jevon, Knucks

When He Started: 2005

Sounds Like: “I would definitely call it a form of hip-hop, it just depends on the song. When I’m in my singing bag, it could be R&B/alternative soul, and when I’m rapping, it really depends on the beat or delivery choice. I even go into the more synthesised spaces when I’m ready, too. I guess my use of personality can all give it a form of cohesion though. I try to embody tones and moments, so there’s a lot of feeling and honesty whatever the song is.”

First Music That Inspired Him: “I always heard amazing music that inspired me from many genres, but if we’re talking UK and what made me even think of creating my own, maybe a So Solid song—probably ‘Rap Dis’—but that would still have been a couple years before I actually wrote anything.”

There really is something in the water in Lewisham. One of the latest talents to make noise from the Blue Borough is Benjamin A.D, a rapper whose sound is decidedly laid-back and shot through with creative takes on soul and R&B. His upbringing, he tells us, involved “a lot of soul music, R&B, acid jazz, funk—so many people, from Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, to D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, Curtis Mayfield... I could go on for a long time.” That mixture of canonised legends with newer and more experimental sounds has given him classic yet forward-facing sound, a difficult balance to strike.

Wearing his smoky, South London voice proudly, Benjamin A.D’s run of singles over the past few years has seen his rap-R&B fusion flourish with each passing release. Everything he’s put out has come from the tight creative partnership he’s forged with producer WAVSDNTDIE, and that relationship has given his music a strong and focused identity. He hit the ground running in 2019, following his debut “When It Don’t Make Sense” with three more singles in quick succession and hasn’t really taken his foot off the gas since. There’s a lot to enjoy in that first batch, but the woozy, almost disorienting haze of “Backseat Driving” proved an instant winner and remains a favourite to this day.

Last year was a relatively quiet one for A.D, but he struck back in a big way at the top of 2021 with the MOOD EP, a five-track calling card that brandished some serious artistic growth. His voice sounded stronger than ever, the beats were more detailed and it all tied together seamlessly. Now more than ever, predicting the future is far from an exact science. Like many of us, Benjamin’s taking life as it comes. “My career has been an irregular story,” he says. “I’ve been through a lot and this is still a long road.” Ultimately, as he continues to gather pace, an album will be forthcoming. “Offering a full-length project for the world to hear is an exciting thought,” he adds.

Whatever happens, between the initial run of singles and the MOOD EP, Benjamin A.D and WAVSDNTDIE have laid the foundations for a long and creatively fulfilling career.

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Posted on February 17, 2021