"On the Verge" with Oswin Benjamin
Our first featured artist is a true representation of Hip-Hop in its rawest form. In our opinion, he is a pure lyricist with the ablilty to articulate his innermost thoughts poetically with the greatest of ease. There is no doubt in our minds that this young brother will one day have a seat at the table with the Greats. He has already been co-signed by some of the most credible names in Hip-Hop. Check out our interview with, “On the Verge” artist, Oswin Benjamin.
SFND MAG: OSWIN! What’s good my brother? We wanted to start off by saying what an honor it is to have you as one of the artists in our 10th issue of our magazine. We are definitely appreciative of the time you took out of your schedule to be a part of this issue.
OSWIN BENJAMIN: Yerrrr! What’s going on? Thank you for reaching out and I’m excited to be a part of what you guys are building.
SFND MAG: If you would, please give our readers a little background on who you are and where you are from.
OSWIN BENJAMIN: Sure, no problem. Well, my name is Oswin Benjamin; I was born to a Guyanese father and a British mother. I was born in Brooklyn, New York, but I was raised a little ways north of there in a place called Newburgh. I am an artist, a flawed human being figuring it out just like you and everyone reading this, and I’m a child of God above all else fam.
SFND MAG: Now, Oswin We must admit we first came across your profile way back in 2017 on Instagram one day while scanning for artist. We were blown away by your style, and your delivery and lyrics. How long have you been developing your talent to get to this level?
OSWIN BENJAMIN: Man! First off, thank you for keeping up with me and my career for the years that you have. That means a lot. As far as a time frame for developing the gift, as cliché as it sounds pretty much as far back as I remember. I’ve been singing in church and competitions since I was like five, but I took a liking to hip-hop a little late. I started taking it seriously in college, which was around 2008 so a little over 10 years now.
SFND MAG: Over the last couple of years, we have listened to lots of your songs and your music reminds us of how hip-hop used to be as far as CONTENT, CONSCIOUSNESS, AND WORD PLAY. This is not to say that your style is old school because it is not. It is actually very fresh and new especially in the current state of hip-hop. Your style puts us in mind of Nas + Mos Def + Common. How would you personally define your style of hip-hop?
OSWIN BENJAMIN: Honestly, I would define it as honest music. I don’t try to be conscious or righteous in my music. It’s really a view of where I am and where I’m working towards. My flaws, triumphs, downfalls, and victories. I do my best to create what I would call the soundtrack to my life and the lives around me in hopes that it speaks to lives of those who choose to listen.
SFND MAG: Over the years, you have dropped a few projects and several music videos, but we have also seen you on some pretty high profile television and radio shows as well. What was it like to spit that fire verse on Sway in the Morning, knowing you have such a huge audience watching and listening?
OSWIN BENJAMIN: That moment was a highlight of not only my career, but my life. I’ve watched and listened to Sway in the Morning for years, pretty much seen every interview and every freestyle. From putting this moment on my vision board in 2015 to watch it manifest into my reality is unreal. I’ve been a part of the show as a guest with some pretty dope people like Shia LaBeouf, Big Sean, DNA, K-shine Ice Cube, Toni Braxton, Smino, E40, and the list goes on but this was the first time that I was on the show and the segment was strictly about me, so knowing how long I’ve waited for a moment like this, I had to give it my best and I’m just glad it was received the way it was intended.
SFND MAG: We also see that you are on the lineup to perform at Essence Fest coming up later this year! How excited are you to perform at such a huge event like this?
OSWIN BENJAMIN: This is dope on so many different platforms and the fact that I can be a part of this is a blessing! I’ve never been to New Orleans before so this is going to be an experience for the books!
SFND MAG: Definitely seems like that should be a cool experience and a lot of exposure. Speaking of exposure, Let us know your thoughts on this. In this crazy new world of social media followers and viral videos, exposure to new audiences can happen at any moment and now days. There are so many ways to possibly share your music to the world. Do you feel that it is more beneficial for independent artists to stay independent or to still seek out that major deal?
OSWIN BENJAMIN: I mean, I can only speak from my experience and I feel like because of that exact reason you stated labels are becoming more obsolete. Social media platforms have taken away the power of the label in regards to exposure and put it in the hands of the consumer. Attention is the new currency and once you have the people’s attention, it will translate to compensation. We are the new major label and if done correctly with the right content, audience, and research you’ll reap the benefits of a major label deal without being signed. That’s just my opinion though.
SFND MAG: What do you feel is the best part about being independent artist in 2019?
OSWIN BENJAMIN: Freedom. In every sense of the word. Freedom to release music at your pace, freedom to portray the image that you want, freedom to own the rights to your own intellectual property, just freedom.
SFND MAG: So let’s talk about your music. You just recently dropped your album “Godfrey” and we think it is nothing short of INCREDIBLE! The production, the lyricism, the vocalists were all dope. The entire project is very well put together! What was the inspiration behind this amazing project?
OSWIN BENJAMIN: Thank you for that! I appreciate you listening! The inspiration was pretty wide spread. I pulled from a lot of life experiences and I took the time to study some of my favorite artist like Jay-z, Biggie, John Legend, Lupe Fiasco, Buddy, Smino, Kirk Franklin, Boney James, Royce da 5’9, Andre 3000, and a lot more. I really had asked myself what made them my favorite artist and pulled from that answer. Vulnerability and Transparency. The Main one’s being Jay-z and Royce da 5’9. After listening to almost every album from “Reasonable Doubt” to “4:44” and “Book of Ryan” not only did I re-write the intro but also I gained perspective in how I want my music to be perceived which is honest, vulnerable, transparent, timeless, and beautiful music.
SFND MAG: What artist or producers have you worked with on this album?
OSWIN BENJAMIN: I worked with Anthiny King who’s a super dope artist and songwriter who assisted me on “Own Way” vocally. He just released and album called “Parallels” you guys should definitely check out, Capella Grey who also released a project with a new female group called “Reign” called “Ii, say that”, Joshua Freeman was the main vocalist on “simply complicated” with Capella singing backgrounds, Tamaja who sang backgrounds on “pressure”, “Olive Oil”, and “Suppose To Be”, Imsomaleek who held me down with the background vocals for “Yessuh” and of course the goat Styles P who killed that verse on
“God Bless The Child”. As far as the producers I mainly worked with my brother Rodtheproducer for the majority of this album. My boy Justen Williams produced “Yessuh,” my guys from out of Boston KP and Intl Show teamed up with RodtheProducer for “Pressure,” my boy Dommadethat teamed up with RodtheProducer for “God Bless the Child” and KP got together with Rod again for “Simply Complicated. Everything else was Rodtheproducer on production.
SFND MAG: Our most favorite songs on the project are “Olive Oil”, “Yessuh”, and “Simply Complicated”. Do you have any favorite joints on the project? Why is it so special to you?
OSWIN BENJAMIN: I honestly can’t say I do. They all hold a very unique and special place in my growth as a person and an artist.
SFND MAG: When you are not creating your own music, what other artists do you listen to?
OSWIN BENJAMIN: It varies honestly, there are days when I’m in a Capella Grey, Anthiny King, Ty Dolla $ign type of mood, there’s days where I feel like listening to Richard Elliot and Boney James. I listen to everything though. Lupe Fiasco, Mickey Factz, Jimi Tents, Chris Rivers, Denzil Porter, Marlon Craft, Avery, Jay-z, Smino, Buddy, Thirdstory, Cantrell, Mick Jenkins, Anderson Paak, AJ McQueen, Chris Dave, Robert Glasper, Black Star, Fred Hammond, I mean the list goes on! [LAUGHS]
SFND MAG: Could you name some of your biggest musical influences over the years?
OSWIN BENJAMIN: Pretty much everyone I just named. [LAUGHS] I’ve honesty learned something significant from everyone I just listed. Amazing people and phenomenal musicians.
SFND MAG: Were you a Nipsey Hussle fan? How did his untimely death affected you personally, and what lasting impact do you think it will have on the hip-hop culture?
OSWIN BENJAMIN: Honestly, I was more a fan of his interviews than his music at first, but when he passed it affected me in a way I can’t really explain. I learned from Nip. I learned about ownership and how to give back to where you’re from while being tangible with a huge amount of success. It hurt and it still does...This will be something we all will feel for many years to come. We lost a visionary and a pioneer but his legacy will lead the way for everyone coming up doing this independently. He left the blueprint.
SFND MAG: We can’t help but to notice a spiritual connection with this album! There are lots of reference to prayer and conversations with God. Is that an accurate assumption? If so, could you elaborate on that connection and the role it plays in your music?
OSWIN BENJAMIN: Yes, that is extremely accurate. I never want to be labeled as a Christian rapper or gospel artist; however, I do speak on my beliefs and how it has kept me grounded. God has always been my moral compass although I still make mistakes and mess up.
SFND MAG: We would love to see a tour with a new wave of dope young lyricists. Picture this. Oswin Benjamin, Tobe Nwigwe, Quincey White, and Joyner Lucas! How would a lineup like this on tour affect the culture? Thoughts?
OSWIN BENJAMIN: I respect all those MC’s to a very high regard and degree. I think that would be not only amazing but also needed in a culture that can use a little more balance. Not to say it isn’t there, but it could use a little bit more.
SFND MAG: How can your fans reach you on social media?
OSWIN BENJAMIN: Everyone can reach me at Oswinbenjamin on every social media platform.
SFND MAG: Before you go, could you name another artist that you think is “So FN Dope” and tell us why?
OSWIN BENJAMIN: There are too many! I’ll go with Rodtheproducer. Not only has he played a part in developing me and my sound but the music he’s about to put out is going to shift the culture. I can promise you that.
SFND MAG: Once again, thank you so much Oswin for interviewing with us. It has been pleasure. We definitely wish you much success and look forward to seeing you at the top.
OSWIN BENJAMIN: Thank you so much for having me! This was great! See you guys soon! I love you and God loves you.