It is always a treat to have new music from Benjamin iii. The Knoxville native has been putting out quality tracks for a few years now, usually in a loosely connected series of one-offs, singles, and features.
They Lied To Us is remarkable for how stylistically versatile it is. As Benji rips through lower tempo tracks like "Hazel," it makes me wonder how much early albums by The Roots played into his artistic development. There are moments throughout the album that take me back to Illadelph Halflife, and you'll have to take my word for it that I consider that the highest of compliments. This kind of homage strikes me as the work of a person who is a student and lover of their craft.
The jazzy down-tempo tracks only tell half the story of this well-rounded EP. The synthy, dance-pop track "Savage" is in a much more contemporary mode. It features the soothing voice of Luna Riiitz, and as long as we're drawing comparisons, it reminds me a lot of "All Night" off of Chance's latest album Coloring Book. How's that for a change of pace?
The strongest track on TLTU, in my opinion, is track two entitled "Loved." It's a continuation of the entrancing oddities that first attracted us to Benjamin iii's first record. It's weird. It's trippy. It sounds amazing. It's Benji's bread and butter. It even references ATLiens, another 1996 record in the hip-hop canon (like Illadelph) that all the most fervent rap fans will appreciate.
Closing out the record is "YBM" a track with an excellent choice of feature in another talented Knoxville rapper ErybodyJones. Jones gets the honors of playing out the final verse of the EP. It is so perfect that in a record that clearly has a certain level of reverence for the foundations of hip-hop that one of the final lines is, "rappers getting famous off mumbling some funny sh**." Consider the bar raised, folks.