Benny Mails – Aware, The Mixtape

South London MC Benny Mails has self-released his debut project, “Aware”, an eight track mixtape that delivers clever bars with a youthful flow.

Benny Mails has come up in the grime scene with a wide array of musical influences and a rich background in breakdancing. Undoubtedly this upbringing helped shape the determined but curious style of his debut mixtape. This tape rarely fails to impress on one level or another and continually showcases the raw talent the artist possesses.

Clocking in at approximately 21 minutes, Benny Mails‘ debut mixtape “Aware” is not a long project. Thanks to his knack for rapping, however, these may be some of the most enjoyable minutes of listening one will experience this month. This is shown immediately upon pushing play with the first track, “Religious Freestyle”. This song features sly lines like, “It’s been a really nice week/ I put a cherry on a drink and make a milly like Meek” and a clever use of both end and in er rhymes to connect each bar tightly while still maintaining the loose manner of a freestyle.

Benny Mails‘ debut mixtape “Aware” is short but might offer the most enjoyable minutes of listening one will experience this month

Not only is Benny Mails skilled technically, however, he also brings some level of lyrical depth to his music. One example of this is on the song “Mantra”. This is a spiritual sort of track on which Mails discusses sadness and the search for reason. It begins lyrically in line with these themes with the lines:

And I’m like, mind over matter, mind is a matter / Soul in collateral, spine in the scanner in the mix / For the madness, I’m a planner / This is the sound of a heartbroken rapper / This is the fill that took a life at large to capture than ever!

These lines resonate meaning and are surrounded by an airy, melancholy beat. And a hook containing the lines, “My mantra, everything happens for a reason.”

The rest of the production on this project serves its purpose well. The sluggish, classic feeling beat on “Aware” moves slowly but keeps Benny Mails’ flow in synch and suitably backs the beautiful chorus of Maricka Hackman as she sings drearily but wonderfully. The beat for “Passion” shows great strength and blinking eeriness with a great deal of London grit. It is a relatively short track but it makes due with his invigorating and brawny action raps.

This project’s production is fitting and of strong quality. Dancing atop these beats, Benny Mails’ word strength glides easily through each bar. There is some maturing to do for Mails’ hip-hop skillset, though. The primary weakness of “Aware, The Mixtape” is only realized with the overall feel of it. For while Mails’ certainly has a talent for rapping and is not afraid to speak on emotional or sensitive topics, it is in the way he speaks that seems to lack some maturity.

This is a difficult thing to describe as it is truly a feeling rather than a strong on-paper mistake, but it stands out strongly upon more than one listen. This will surely be resolved with time and experience, and it certainly not to be expected that a debut mixtape contain the growth of say, a seasoned artist.

For these reasons, “Aware” by Benny Mails’ is a thoroughly enjoyable listen again and again, but does leave something to be desired. Is that not the nature of the mixtape, however? A tool of growth just as much as a first performance? Great things lie ahead for Benny Mails, that is for sure.

Michael G. Barilleaux
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