Toronto’s Fidel Benjamin talks his new EP, Nights Like These
Toronto, ON – Representing new generation rap that takes strong influences from Toronto’s prevalent and high-end street-culture, Fidel Benjamin‘s newest EP, Nights Like These is full of sounds that are sure to spur his own wave. A strong lyricist, and known primarily for freestyles like the successful “Pharmaceutical Freestyle” the rapper mixes bold bars with trap-inspired beats. The most recent six-track project is an experience that comfortably elevates hype tracks with introspective reflections, all of which would easily make it into your party playlist.
With little known about the personal side of the rapper, we caught up for a short discussion to talk about Nights Like These. Through the conversation that transpired, Fidel shed some light on the musical influence of Toronto, why he generally makes music for his friends, and how his growth in 2016 has set him up for a successful 2017. Check out our conversation below.
Fidel Benjamin: Q&A
HipHopCanada: Congratulations on the new EP, and thanks for speaking to us about it. What did you want to say, as an artist and musically, with Nights Like These?
Fidel Benjamin: I wanted to give the people who support me a body of work that they could listen to, whether that be 10 or even 30 people. Other than that, I just wanted to show everyone my versatility when it comes to this music thing.
HipHopCanada: In comparison to your first mixtape, They Changed Me, what were some things that you wanted to build on as you progressed to this point in your career?
Fidel Benjamin: They Changed Me was never released because I felt like I wasn’t really where I needed to be. I was going through a major rough patch in my personal life, so I basically took some time off from recording…that’s when I wrote 4 of the songs that are on Nights Like These. To answer the question, my confidence was one of the major things I really wanted to build on and also my songwriting, cause Nights Like These was the first time I actually wrote anything musically.
HipHopCanada: People always have a really strong interest in artists coming out of Toronto, but I understand you were actually born in St. Lucia. How have your surroundings and the Toronto music scene influenced your sound, and this project?
Fidel Benjamin: A lot of things that I’ve been through in the city shaped me into the person I am today…even musically. To be honest the influence on my sound just stems from me being a product of the inner city (West End) and not so much the music scene in Toronto.
I think everything I am today musically comes from my friends, that’s why on Nights Like These, each song was geared towards a specific friend or group of friends – their style, and attitude. For example “Yellow Bandana” was for my closest group of friends. I just knew they’d like that style. “Savage” was for this girl I was talking to who thought she was a savage.
HipHopCanada: For some of our audience, they’ll be introduced to your music for the first time with this EP. How do you personally define your sound?
Fidel Benjamin: Honestly I think I offer a bit of everything musically. I can’t really define my sound at this point, but time will tell.
HipHopCanada: What was the process like making this project, and do you have a routine method for writing and creating songs?
Fidel Benjamin: The process for this project was pretty simple, though it was my first time writing music. I usually freestyle everything. “Tru Say” and “Money Dance” were freestyles. I was working with my engineer, Chris Letts, he’s amazing. We’ve been working together non-stop since the summer, so working on this project was a smooth process. My method for writing is that I always find my melody first, after I set that, the words flow in with time.
HipHopCanada: How long was this project in the works, and has the process been an easy one?
Fidel Benjamin: To be honest, it took us about three weeks to get everything done, the bulk of the time was spent on little tweaks and the mixing and mastering process.
HipHopCanada: How much of your content is influenced by your own experiences, and how personal do you get in your music?
Fidel Benjamin: For this project I didn’t get all that personal since it’s my first time releasing a project. I want to save the more personal topics for when it counts the most, and when all my music is influenced by my own experiences and also those around me.
HipHopCanada: Some people will obviously pick out the trap influence on the EP. Who are some of your musical influences and what role has music played in your life overall?
Fidel Benjamin: 50 cent, Jada Kiss, Kevin Gates, Rascal Flatts, Three Days Grace, Camron, Dave East, Drake and YFN Lucci – but for me, music hasn’t played a major roll in my life until recently. I mean I grew up on like country music, so earlier stuff like the Temptations, the Chi-Lites, Marvin and Otis. Stuff like that, but for a major bulk of my life I actually just played basketball.
HipHopCanada: What’s your favourite track on the EP, or the one that you’re the most proud of?
Fidel Benjamin: “Savage” and “Paid.”
HipHopCanada: What things can we expect to see from you in the near future?
Fidel Benjamin: More music and a lot of videos. I’m also in the process of getting my merch’ together.
Stream ‘Nights Like These’ below.
Interview conducted by Kira Hunston for HipHopCanada
Tags: Fidel Benjamin