If you’d have stumbled across a bewildered looking Benga giving away items from his personal jewellery collection to strangers back in 2013… you may not have been so surprised by his departure from music and personal Twitter revelations the following year. Skipping forwards to March 2016 and we’ve just been given another heavy duty shock; after a two year hiatus, Benga’s back.
Last year the 28 year old Croydon based dubstep pioneer and long time Skream affiliate spoke with The Guardian on the truth behind his sudden departure from music. Dispelling his original statement, that he was retiring from music to focus on his family, Benga revealed on Twitter that he had been battling with both bi-polar and schizophrenia disorders. Driven by the pressures of a consuming tour and the toll of a drug fuelled party lifestyle, the Croydon producer wasseen to be handing away rose gold Rolexes at random. The saga of mental instability ended with his 2014 arrest and psychiatric sectioning. Speaking on his breakdown, Adegbenga Adejumo (Benga), told journalist Kate Hutchinson:
‘I remember somebody talking about ‘time’ and I just reached into my pocket and gave it to them… I cleared out my entire house, not knowing what I was doing. I lost everything within the space of about four months.”
However, this month has proved that not quite everything was lost; his talent as an innovative and pioneering musician has re-emerged… and with stunning effect. Marking his return with the forward thinking, Future Funk EP. The prowess of this production was underscored by a massive set (and his first live show in two years) at Farringdon’s legendary Fabric London. Alongside fellow dubsteppers, Pinch and SGT Pokes, a tangible energy and passion pushed the super-club beyond hysteria.
Future Funk EP moves on from Benga’s early dubstep roots, yet still carrying forward the intensity and scrambled frequencies of past productions. Heavy electronic influences can be heard as these sounds are injected with bass lines, pulsating synths and strong building rhythms reminiscent of Swamp 81’s musical texture. At the same time techno inspired drum loops and filtered vocal samples build up synergistic layers that make for definitely progressive music, if not rather difficult to define.
There’s consistency throughout the EP. There aren’t any outdated heavy drops or dubstep wobbles; it’s in touch with genre trends and with a congruent strength in sound, you can clearly hear the potential of Benga’s musical growth teased out.
In essence, it’s hard to box this three track EP into any genre other than ‘Benga’; an overwhelming sense of personal drive and creative vision is what defines this release above any underlying aggression or darkness. Whilst it’s often a struggle to describe electronic music as personal, it all feels very fitting given the context of his departure and current comeback. In many ways Future Funk serves to almost sonically mirror the closing of a dark chapter in Benga’s life as he steps into an exciting new one. As the title suggests, this is the ‘future.’
Not quite ‘future funk’ but hopefully an indication of future Benga. Definitely worth a listen.
Stream and buy Future Funk here.
1. Benga – Future Funk
2. Benga – Make Moves
3. Benga – Power