I’m not sure how many of you can relate, but for me personally I’ve noticed the correlation between being a creative person and having certain problems. The more you start to accomplish the more you’ll find being thrown your way. It’s almost as though the universe balances talent with troubles just to keep us all humble. I started 1DF about 2 and half years ago and have had to navigate through problems I didn’t have beforehand ever since. The same goes for musicians, athletes and other talented individuals.
One person who is also trying to navigate through the issues life can place in his way, while also maintaining his creativity is Penjamin Lane. The Tallahassee, Florida-based artist recently released his project which discusses this same theory in depth. Titled “Therapy: A Short EP of Old Problems”, he makes it clear from the jump if what his purpose is for creating the set. Treating the vocal booth like a confessional is what can be expected here. He expresses himself in a way that is simply as personal as it gets.
The EP kicks off with “So High” which features The Message. On this record he gets creative, portraying the vice that is marijuana in the form of a lady. Its a concept that has been done before but Penjamin’s approach and unique style of music sets his apart from the pack. In essence its a love song that you have to read between the lines to truly understand. The ode to the herb is very laid back, with production and subject matter that brings some similarity to Curren$y’s sound.
A perfect transition leads us straight into “Ambitions & Dreams”. As indicative by the title it’s a track that accents his goals for the future and what he is doing to attain them. Penjamin Lane talks about some of the obstacles he has had to overcome on his road we call life. It’s truly a motivational record that’ll have anyone who checks it out ready to go accomplish their goals. Lines like “I still don’t think I’m good enough, cause I kill verses but they still say I ain’t hood enough” hammer home some of his plight.
Track three is a remix of “Need to Know” and I’ll be honest, I’m pissed it’s not longer! The whole vibe of this record caught my ear in an instant. Horns and piano keys form the production as Penjamin Lane uses a spoken word style of flow to discuss religion, lust, love and how rough its ending can be. I love this track and its my favorite of the entire project. To use one of the more popular phrases of the year, it’s a vibe, and it’s one that feels as though it was cut prematurely.
“Unsober Thoughts” comes next in line and shows a sharp contrast in sounds from the previous tracks. This is by far the most moody record of the whole bunch. Sparse production sets the tone for some more “Therapy” in the form of Penjamin baring his inner-thoughts without regard. I said previously that he turned the vocal booth into a confessional, well this one is the most revealing confession of them all. On a project that is packed with emotion and unadulterated thoughts he does so more effectively on this song than any of them in my opinion.
To close the EP is “I’m Sorry” which features DreLove. This is another high point on the project with the subject of suicide being put on full display. The dark content placed throughout the project kind of lead up to this as depression and the feeling of being alone can greatly contribute to suicidal thoughts. Penjamin Lane crafts one of his better verses while going into the topic making it a great song to end the project with. “You don’t know how hard it is to be that guy, people look at me with pity because I attempted suicide”. Strong words that have to be felt and need to be heard in a culture that can sometimes neglect mental health issues.
Overall the project is an enjoyable listen but it does come up short in some areas. One being that it literally comes up short. The last three songs all come in at under two minutes and in my own opinion this is the better half of the EP. Would have love for all of those songs to be a little more lengthy. Another flaw for me is cohesiveness with “So High” in relation to the rest of the project. Especially with it being the intro it doesn’t feel like the best fit on this particular project. Great song, just not one that “falls in line” with the others to me. I would have preferred him to have a more intrapersonal intro that would better set the tone for the emotional ride that proceeds.
In the end though I feel Penjamin Lane put together a project that needs to be heard. The content has an undertone of sadness that’ll be palpable by anyone listening but it’s still refreshing to hear such honesty from a rapper when so much of the culture will shy away from their issues. After all every rapper isn’t in the club popping bottles with models all day, nor does every rapper live on the block pulling capers for their money. I commend his ability to be completely transparent with the listener. While it’s not the most polished project, Penjamin Lane shows the potential to create dialogue and touch listeners in ways not every rapper can. I recommend anyone giving the 11 minute “Therapy” EP a listen.
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