Updated: May 31
by Scott Roos
Nestled deep in the boreal forest on a Treaty Land Entitlement farm near the small town of Spiritwood, Saskatchewan isn’t exactly hiding in plain sight. But, for Charles Benson, of new hip hop group Benson & Company, it was these lush, dense and very natural surroundings that provided him with the perfect backdrop of solitude to enable him to begin crafting a message that desperately needs to be heard in this province. Life early on didn’t come easy for Benson, he has battled all the societal stereotypes due to his indigenous upbringing on top of a serious illness that nearly claimed his life. In short, he has an amazing story to tell that we’ll only be scratching the surface of this time out, but eventually, after a journey that found him searching deep within himself, he turned to hip hop to say his piece.
“In between all of this (his trips to the hospital to recover from his illness) I was still going to physio, still trying to recover from everything. It was basically me trying to get better physically, as well as emotionally and mentally, spiritually. Just writing everything. Writing music, making music (and) having the leisure to be able to just sit in my studio all day and either listen to music, write music. Music saved my life. That’s not even an understatement. Totally saved my life. That’s how I fell into it. It was the only outlet I had at the time,” says Benson.
With a trademark vocal delivery somewhere between the timbre and cadence of Swollen Members legendary wordsmith Madchild as well as Cypress Hill’s B-Real, Benson has proven how much he can do on a limited budget and resources. From a small studio rig set up in his bedroom, he’s been able to create soundscapes that many strive to master over an entire career of creating beats and rhymes. NSMZ has been able to hear many of these tracks affectionately titled The Bedroom Mixtape as well as a few early demos sent to us via Prince Albert record label Reservoir Recording that will eventually make up Benson’s first e.p. After listening to these early tracks it’s clear that Benson is an activist in his lyrics to be sure. But he applies a measured approach as opposed to something more militant or extreme.
“You don’t want to overthrow the government. Violence begets violence. If you live by the sword you will die by the sword. Knowledge is power and applied knowledge is even more power. That’s what I believe," explains Benson.
With that being said, the future looks bright for Benson & Company. Collectively as a unit, they are poised to make a real statement to the hip hop community in Saskatchewan. NSMZ is on the front lines ready for that moment to happen. The boreal forest won’t be able to hide this man for long.
*photos courtesy of Contingent Colours Photography