Benjamin Earl Turner is a hip-hop artist from Antioch, CA. but after spending time in Chicago with Young Chicago Authors, he was able to grow as an artist and do some networking. Young Chicago Authors has developed a strong reputation through music acts like Chance The Rapper, Saba, Jamila Woods, and many more. After listening to Yell Pretty, Benjamin Earl Turner might deserve to be added to that impressive list of music acts affiliated with YCA.
Benjamin Earl Turner has definitely proven his caliber of artistry in his past work like his standout verse on “Westside Bound” from Saba’s breakout mixtape — ComfortZone. Turner also joined forces with Chicago MC, Defcee last year as “Grand Total” and the duo dropped the Case Studies (A Novella) EP.
Despite those past works, Turner doesn’t approach Yell Pretty as an artist looking to prove himself. Yell Pretty is an introduction because despite it only being seven-tracks-long, listeners should feel like they know Turner after listening to this project. But Turner seems to approach this project as if the listeners already know him personally. The personal and introspective nature of this project is what maybe the most interesting. Turner has no shame in baring all of his darkest thoughts, insecurities, and, like on the track “Mediterranean”, even personal voice-memos for producers.
The project opens up with “6 Flags” featuring MFn Melo. The Ginuwine sample on this joint got my attention immediately — so much nostalgia. The first words of this project, Turner is just talking to the listeners about how he might be putting his job in danger by pursuing his music career, that monologue transitions to his first bar: “Can we all eat off rap?”. The track is about the roller coaster of life, which is a nice set-up for the overall feel/subject matter on Yell Pretty.
Before listening to this project, I read the description Turner wrote on his Soundcloud account, in the description he basically said how draining the creative process can be and that he may never make music again. He is about to enter graduate school, he wants to travel, life happens and he doesn’t want to force the creative process just to make music for the sake of making music.
Also in the description, Turner explains the title of the project — Yell Pretty — in today’s world of hip-hop a lot of artists are showing the capability to be melodic with their delivery, even if they aren’t necessarily good singers. Hip-hop artists like J. Cole, Chance The Rapper, Saba, and more come to mind. These artists aren’t going the Drake-route of actually trying to sing or using synthesizers like Kanye and Future, they are basically just harmonizing but Turner calls it “yelling pretty”. I like that.
“PHX” (phoenix) hit me like a ton of bricks, that song is packed full of emotion. Turner is painting the picture of someone who just wants to hit the reset button. In the last verse, Turner seems to be contemplating suicide — he opens the verse with a chilling rhyme connecting Heath Ledger and Robin Williams. After reading Turner’s thoughts on the release of this project, I interpreted the last verse to be Turner contemplating the death of his rap career — not his life. Turner evoked raw passion in that verse with lines like: “To all my listeners, thank you for being patient. I know you’re used to instant gratification. To write a bar is like writing a bible verse. I’m trying to give you a record of my creation, a record of when I died, and a record of rebirth.”
My only true complaint about this project is that “PHX” isn’t the final track. The “Sway in the Morning” track is cool and shows Turner’s hunger/appreciation for hip-hop but it’s placement on the tracklist made it feel like a filler.
I highly recommend this project. For a small sample size, it has a wide-variety of content.