Elz Bentley drops new Single
2020 is starting to feel like the year of the alternative rapper, and there’s no argument to be made as to whether or not Elz Bentley is as alternative as it gets without treading abstract waters. Bentley’s new single, “Buddha,” doesn’t have a whole lot in common with the mainstream hip-hop trends of the late 2010s; truth be told, this track has a deep underground feel with strong ties to an emerging mumble rap circuit that has as much interest in efficiency as it does emotional self-awareness. “Buddha” shows us a side of this artist that was only teased on his debut LP, and it’s a song I’d recommend rap fans everywhere check out.
The vocal here is slow-motion spitfire, but I wouldn’t call it a product of sophisticated production techniques. While Bentley’s style in this track isn’t quite straight-mumble rap, it’s still very much in the vein of modern southern hip-hop – disciplined, hazy with regards to harmonization and totally devoid of the bassline interruptions that plagued the previous generation of rappers (even at their best). I like his willingness to put a little extra oomph into the corners of this composition, and moreover, his adeptness at transitioning from one speed to the next without skipping a beat.
There’s no overt Soundcloud surrealism in the backdrop here; it’s pure instrumental grinding, similar to what you’d expect out of an indie rock track than you would something coming out of the hip-hop underground east of the Mississippi at the moment. As much as I’m guilty of spinning the heavier stuff – especially in the last couple of years – there’s a certain charm to the cut and dry nature of this mix that’s been wholly missing from the spectrum in the last few years. It could become a trademark for Elz Bentley, or, perhaps a mere showcase of how versatile a player he can be.
As I previously mentioned, I absolutely love the lack of bass excess in this track, and to some extent I think this is why “Buddha” has as stinging – and icy – tone no matter how many times I listen to it. We’re living in a new era for pop culture, and in the rap world, nothing could be more counterproductive to the evolution of the genre as indulgent big-bass adornments. On this end, Bentley is smart to keep that kind of throwback nonsense on the sidelines, as he clearly has ambitions that go beyond (lovingly) looking back at the past.
After hearing “Buddha” for myself this July, I can definitely understand what all of the buzz surrounding its composer has been about. There are a lot of interesting artists making their way out of the woodwork and into the spotlight in 2020, but among those in Kentucky, you really can’t go wrong with the white-hot beats Elz Bentley is dropping here. He’s got a natural talent that can’t be practiced into existence, and with the right exposure on either coast, I think we’ll be hearing a lot more of his content in the future.