Arrow Benjamin’s music is genre-less. The UK native is gearing up to release his debut EP, W.A.R. (We All Rise), but stresses that his forthcoming soundscape cannot find a home within music’s various subsets. “Whatever comes from my soul I do without any limitation, and that’s why I’m really happy that I got to do the EP,” he says during a visit to VIBE’s Manhattan office. “I don’t need people to expect anything from me but the truth as opposed to a genre. I’m not a genre, and if I was, I would just be love.”
So who exactly is this newcomer that’s ready to bare his inner thoughts in the name of love? Well, the dapper artist has been a face behind the pen for many years, but one of his most recent songs that he’s written has everyone talking, especially if you’re a stan of this next person. Beyonce’s name excitingly returned to the music-sphere when famed producer Naughty Boy announced his new track featuring the world-renowned vocalist. But it was Benjamin’s moniker that had everyone doing their “Googles.” His rustic-like vocals make your ears perk from the rugged yet soft sound, even though he’s been compared to Gnarls Barkley. But his style on wax leaves those similarities within the shadows of his rising fame.
When asked how the collaboration came about, Benjamin remains modest, but delves into the stages of his mindset before and after the song’s release. “I have been writing for a while, and I got to a place where I felt like my heart was resuscitated,” he says. “I started to write songs and collaborate with people that were at a similar place that would live beyond the charts, live beyond their window and actually work their way into people’s souls and talk, actually have a conversation. That was one of the songs.”
After a meeting with Naughty Boy, who created a clear vision for the replay-worthy record, they reached out to Beyonce who said, “I’m in, let’s finish it together,” Benjamin recounts. “Basically it was that simple. There was no tug of war, there was no ego. This was like a universal message.” Now, Benjamin is sharing that universal message through his personal music. Where artists like The Weeknd might find a quicksand of darkness in love’s exploits, Benjamin shines an optimistic light on the emotion. The five-track musical journey takes listeners through Benjamin’s insight from faith to staying in line with Cupid’s arrow. “I’m ready to trade my soul to love you in paradise,” he croons on the EP’s opening melody “Look At Me.”
There are many elements of rock, blues, and R&B infused throughout the project (“Love And Hate,” “Silent Preacher”). Although Benjamin states his music has no genre, he effortlessly crafts a melting pot of these iTunes tabs that after you get a taste of his sound, you can’t quite pinpoint what you’ve just musically ingested, in a good way. And that’s what’s going to make him standout once the EP drops for the masses. He can probably attribute that talent to his upbringing in a Jamaican household. The notes that ruled the corridors of his home ranged from country to Celine Dion to music of the 70’s and 80’s. “In every room of my house everybody was allowed to express themselves in reference to what they gravitated to,” he says.
But don’t get it twisted, Benjamin’s music still infuses the historic sounds of the yellow, green and black that can be heard on the anthemic track “One Heart.” From there, he learned to not only write songs based off of melody or a tune that’ll “make my feet dance,” but a song that’ll make listeners’ souls bend to the rhythm. “I didn’t lose melody, in fact more melody was inspired but it’s just about content,” he says. “Where are you taking people? I’m finding now that it has affected me in a good way just across the board. Even if I’m writing for somebody else. If there’s nothing in it, then I won’t put it in.”
Benjamin draws his thoughts or inspiration for his songs from various facets of everyday life. Whether it was a trip to watch a play, a movie or gathering material from real life people, the South London expat sees no limitation from turning an experience into a track that can be understood in any part of the globe. “I hope [the EP] helps [listeners] to peel some of those layers back and just know that it’s okay to be vulnerable,” he says. “That’s not weakness, because the guy who you’re looking at, I go through real battles and love carries me through.”
The last track on the artist’s EP, “Fire” reiterates the project’s recurring theme. “Go tell the world that love reigns higher than fire,” he boldly belts out. Arrow Benjamin’s universal message hits the bulls-eye mark on love, allowing listeners to gain a different definition of the four-letter word. “I see the heart of that individual who though their hands are lifted and they look like they’re having a euphoric moment, really there’s a mask, there’s a broken heart and there’s chains of fear that are binding those individuals,” he says. “I almost find myself writing songs that have me in the audience really speaking to whoever will listen to say, ‘This is what’s really happening. For all the screams and the euphoria, this is where I really am at.‘”
W.A.R. is set to arrive early next year.