A year and a half ago, a friend introduced then 15-year-old Ben Castrilli, aka BenG, to Centreline Studio on Gottingen Street, where he wrote his first rap song for fun. The song was recorded by producer Jordan Williams, aka Jordan Metro, on his first day after graduating from recording arts at NSCC.
That was the beginning of the collaboration which would lead to Genesis, a full-length debut album ten months in the making and released last week.
The first half takes its musical cues from jazz and classic hip hop samples, but the songs also flow into expansive club and radio-friendly “bangers” featuring local artists Shevy Price, Alfie, and Tania. BenG's poetic imagination transcends his age, unless BenG has really wined and dined on steak and champagne with his lyrical lady loves.
Heaven only knows, but it's evident that this first effort is about finding his confidence and strength in cool, cocky wordplay while he takes his time to mature as an artist. “My voice was changing while I was recording,” he says. He's bursting to be more than a studio kid like many who find their wings at Centreline, run by Sobaz Benjamin, El Jones, and Lindell Smith to provide an artistic haven for youth in the north end and beyond.
Halifax is ideal for finding your voice and your audience, he adds: “With all the social media, you don't need an A&R rep,” he says. “I can get my short term rep here.” BenG's long term ambition is to open for other artists. When people think about Halifax hip hop, he hopes they'll be thinking “Classified, Kayo, Alfie, and BenG.”
Sounding like Kendrick and idolizing Kanye at 16, it seems the sky is the limit for BenG, who is selling hard copies of his album. His debut is also available for purchase or streaming at http://beng416.bandcamp.com/releases.