"I’m not on the pulse. I can’t pretend. It’s kinda like watching your uncle dance." - André Benjamin to GQ Style
I remember reading this quote in my feed a while back and shaking my head. At this point, André's contribution to Blonde, ' Solo (Reprise)' was still in regular rotation and the furthest thing from 'watching your uncle dance'. André gave us poignant verse touching on police brutality, misogyny, and ghostwriting. Not only was this verse extremely relevant, it was damn good.
André features were few and far between after Blonde, including a gem on N*E*R*D's project to finish 2017 and two surprise SoundCloud releases on Mother's Day 2018. One of these was a 17-minute instrumental track featuring André on the bass clarinet and none other that James Blake on the keys. Two weeks ago, James Blake released his latest album, Assume Form featuring André on a track titled 'Where's The Catch'. Blake begins the track with a short intro and hook but he knows why we're all here. We want André.
He begins his verse with a warning.
"This may be a little bit heady... I hate heady-ass verses."
I immediately remembered the quote from GQ and realized that André is still struggling to feel secure with his place in today's Hip-Hop landscape. The beat builds and his verse goes on to explain his feelings deeper.
"All my pets are mystic, keeps me in a cage. Aww, my head is twisted, keeps me spinnin' 'round for days. Exorcism, pessimism has arisen. There's no reason really, treason to myself so silly. So perfect, so perfect, so why do I look for curtains? Uncertain but certainly false alarms alertin'."
While speaking about his uncertainty, depression, and overall negativity, André is providing us with top-tier flow, wordplay, and personality. This verse is light years ahead of what many popping artists are putting out at the moment (obviously there are exceptions).
"We build and discover gold. Alchemists make it silver before you know it. Negative nickels until it's void. Aluminum foil it back to soil."
He finishes out the verse speaking about precious metals and how they eventually degrade into dirt. I hope André isn't making an analogy to himself or his output. If he is, I can only imagine it is because he doesn't feel stellar lyricism is getting the attention that it deserves today. So Hip-Hop consumers, what do we want from our rappers? If we're getting to a point that André is worried about his verse being 'too-heady', what does that say about us? And what effect does our consumption have on the mental health of artist out here trying to provide lyrical value?
'Where's The Catch' has been on repeat since Assume Form dropped and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. All I have to say is, André, keep doing you. Even if you feel like you're not 'on the pulse' we want your heady-ass verses! Hopefully we'll see more features soon and that solo album everyone has been waiting for.
Stream or Download Assume Form below.