A Conversation With Benin City

Hostiles is the title of Benin City’s powerful new single. Yet, the London-based trio are anything but hostile. They exude energetic passion for life and love – their last single was titled, Hold Them Close, released as Covid-19 demanded we all self-isolate. A protest song of sorts. The group reminded us to care about each other, even if we couldn’t physically be in contact. Hostiles is different. As the title suggests, this is an angry statement. A warning? The opening synth coda could easily be imagined as a siren, then the vocals begin, distorted and fervent, “You wanna make it hostile for you and me…”. The vital words are reverbed as the minimalist percussion pounds on, then after a synth bridge, the intensity is upped by the entrance of young East London MC, Eklipse. The result is a couple of minutes of rage about Black Lives Matter, about our world, about injustices. 

Via the magic of Zoom, Norman B welcomed to Life Elsewhere the members of Benin City, singer-songwriter, poet and spoken word artist, Josh Idehen, vocalist Shanaz Dorsett, and multi-instrumentalist Tom Leaper. The conversation ranged from explaining the making of Hostiles to their ideas on music, to LGBTQ issues to opinions on Black Lives Matter, with Shanaz Dorsett’s eloquent statement, “For us to see an African-American get killed on screen that feels like seeing ourselves get killed because we have orbited around that culture to define our blackness  for generations”

This is an important and poignant conversation you should not miss. The Conversation With Benin City will air on Life Elsewhere Music Vol 186. The video will be up on Youtube shortly.

LEM Vol 186