Coming to us from Oakland, California, is Benni J and O-Naje! The two have just released their debut collaboration “Soulrap Psychology“. The duo’s goal when creating this album was to deliver a thought-provoking and life-changing experience. Setting the bar high with an improbable task, will they be able to deliver a conceptual masterpiece?
O-Naje and Benni J show they can rhyme with the best of them on this record. Naje’s hard-hitting delivery perfectly compliments the laid back philosophical approach of Benni J. “Gratitude”, and “Grooving” show off their intense, gritty side while “Rise N Shine” and “Mind + Body + Spirt x J-Flo” displays the emotional depth behind their lyrics. “Tap In” previews Benni and O-Naje’s hitmaking ability as they trade fun lines and intuitive flows against one another. “Live Infinite” was a definite standout as they pay homage to legendary bay area group Souls Of Mischief and their infamous classic “93 ’til Infinity”. Out of all the cuts on SoulRap, none are more groundbreaking than their cover of 2pac’s “Thug Maison”. Both artists recollect on their scariest moments and fears with heartfelt and vivid songwriting. Overall, the only complaint I could draw about this album is that some of its songs could have been cut off.
Sonically, SoulRap does a formidable job at creating a compelling soundtrack for the duo to rap over. From the tracks that use classic Dj Premier and 9th Wonder beats to the indie produced “Grooving”, there is an array of different styles displayed. “Live Infinite” was a fantastic listen as the instrumental was a remixed and chopped up version of its classic counterpart, “93 ’til Infinity”. Anything from Jazz to Boom Bap seems like a fitting beat for these two as they have an abundance of styles in their arsenal. Overall, none of the instrumentals are truly mind-boggling on this record, but they certainly get the job done.
In conclusion, “SoulRap Psychology” is a solid debut from a prominent young duo. Lyrically, it seems O-Naje and Benni J can already hold their own against anyone in their weight class, while stylistically, they show glimpses of what could turn into a decade defining concept album. Going forward, I hope these two continue to grow and develop together as I feel they could take over the game very shortly. If you want to stay updated on this talented duos journey, be sure to follow @onaje_is_infinite on Instagram!
Highlights: Lyrcisim, Chemistry, Subject Matter