Since his last, self-imposed sabbatical that ended in 2013, RJ Benjamin’s creative and collaborative world has quite simply exploded!
Armed with The Fifth Story,(scheduled for release on 11 July 2017 ) his latest 13-track chart-targeted album, the award-winning composer, songwriter, producer and teacher continues to blend a rich brew of soul, pop, hip-hop, funk and house music into songs filled with reflective storytelling and tailor-made grooves.
“It’s a good mix of happy and reflective songs,” Benjamin unpacks. “Each mood punctuates the other by their stark contrast,” he reflects.
R&B and neo-soul is where this talent and insight continues to influence and enrich every project he works on.
Between mentoring Mzansi Magic’s Clash Of The Choirs’, X-Factor vocal producer and The Voice SA’s vocal coach, The Voice Nigeria’s Musical Director, RJ Benjamin has many a fiddle he’s long since mastered, and which today he shares with a new audience of next-generation hit makers. “I have a passion to enhance what musicians make and support the industry we all play in,” he says. “I came into the business more than a decade ago and I intend confirming my credibility by delivering quality that points to a long term career, rather than simply being a flash-in-the-pan.”
An Allenby Campus graduate back at the turn of the millennium, RJ stayed on, as a then 22 year-old teacher who today can claim the likes of Elvis Blue and Robin Kohl as just two of the many who passed through his classroom during his tenure at the now sadly defunct school.
Between teaching RJ found time to shimmy up and befriend the inner sanctum of the hip-hop and dance fraternity sufficient to begin a career that’s entrenched and growing still. “My diary is my songbook,” he says. “I write songs in the same way diaries and blogs are filled.”
RJ Benjamin is referenced, invited and embraced by every critical genre; record label and artist keen to push the boundaries of their original idea.
Teacher, writer and producer RJ’s credibility comes from more than 14 years of mining and polishing and giving it; “some of that” as he affectionately put it. “I’ve have, through collaborations, song writing, performing and teaching built a space that affords me the opportunity work for myself today, on my own terms, and only when I choose to.”
In 2004 he released his ground breaking Ghetto Ruff debut album, Who Am I, which marked him as South Africa’s brightest new soul star. The critically acclaimed album featured collaborations with Tamara Dey, Ishmael, HHP and Pitch Black Afro. RJ produced the majority of the album, while 37mph and Bongani Fassie lent their skills as collaborating producers.
His 2008 release, Swimming In The Soul Of Music, represented a more sophisticated artist, and showed off the hard work he’d poured into his craft. The musician had focused his musical roots and influences of soul, jazz and funk and created and album that with hindsight represented a time better than it did its maker’s real ambition. That said RJ won the award for Best RnB Album at the Metro FM Awards later that same year.
In 2009 RJ recorded Change The World with Soul Candi. His inviting vocals and inspirational message seduced the nation and teased the ecosphere. An instant hit and anthem on radio stations and dance floors all over the South Africa, the track received both a Channel O and SAMA nomination for Best Dance Video and Song of the Year respectively. Ironically, the song did actually change RJ’s world – the soul star had inadvertently introduced himself to South Africa’s house audience… and they couldn’t get enough!
“I dabbled in house, and tinkered with dance,” he continues, “but I know now where my real ability, love and contribution lies,” he says. “I enjoyed my time in house, but my heart wasn’t in it. That was when I realised my calling is in supporting housemasters and mistresses, rather than leading. With each artist I have the privilege and pleasure of working with, each grows my frame of reference and that’s good for everyone.”
Following the huge success of Change the World, RJ released the 2014 album House Bound that showcased his vocal and writing skills and his house flirtation that ultimately returned him to his RnB and soul roots and core sensibility.
So with 2017’s The Fifth Story RJ has embarked on something entirely original.
“Each album is a statement in time,” RJ reflects in closing. “I am, with the release of The Fifth Story, arguably at my most honest and vulnerable,” he declares. “The overall upbeat and positive tone of the songs is a shift, but it’s one I embrace in a heartbeat!”
Mentor, artist, songwriter, producer and awesome man to meet, RJ Benjamin’s legacy’s guaranteed already. All he’s doing, in-between, is confirm just why that is so with each new song, album and tour, all that’s within yours and my grasp. Grab it, with both hands!
For interviews and more information, please contact:
Triple M Entertainment
Mobile: +27 83 448 4475
Leave a Reply