Mixtape Review-Carpe Diem by Monty C. Benjamin
I love that I don’t know anything about Monty Benjamin other than he is from Cincinnati. That means I don’t have to sum up his career, comment on his twitter feed and social media presence (basically do what Pitchfork does in the first four paragraphs of their reviews). What I do like is that he already has a template figured out. Ten out of the thirteen songs on Carpe Diem are produced by either MZA or Arkane Beats(7 for Arkane Beats) and these are the ones that fit the absolute best. The template is not just about having the right beats though it’s about putting them in the right place. The first song is called FIRST and it’s a hard knocking classic underground hip hop beat that Monty pimp struts all over. Bounce follows it with a much lighter feel (the jazzy horn sample has a lot to do with that) and it’s a different gear. This isn’t a laid back thoughtful song, he starts it swigging liquor and asking for oral sex, but it does abide by mid tempo structure and leads into my favorite song on the mixtape. Tropics is perfect(MZA IS GREAT), in fairness I am a sucker for any Bossanova inspired hip hop beat and this beat is luxuriously Latin, great in an odd way, the subject isn’t just a mish mash of bragging imagery it’s actually about vacationing. When you can make a badass song with the line “let’s go swimming later on” you’re good at this.
For all the fun Monty lets us have Carpe Diem is about exactly that. The second half gives you a determination anthem Don’t Quit Your Daydream that might feel cheesy at first but it grows on you. The image of Monty sleep walking through work because he logged so much studio time the night before is engaging and earnestly presented. It never feels like struggle rap to me, just a part of the Carpe Diem conversation. Pass The Time questions life goals and might be a little much for some folks, in terms of on the nose meaning-of-life convo, but it’s well done and for every slower song you get at least two that jam out mercilessly. Vice City has a hypnotic beat (MZA IS GREAT) and the mixtapes best chorus. Kick In has a really different kind of flow but showcases personal subjects like relationships and hard work , without seeing the payoff immediately, in an endearing way.
Carpe Diem is far from the perfect 2015 mixtape. It doesn’t have any song that will take over your life and his flow is strange. A lot of the time its herky jerky and leaves chunks of words spread out all over the song. This isn’t something Monty needs to change, because that would push him away from what he does naturally. It’s something he needs to perfect. He already has a clear gift for track sequencing, a great team around him and more than enough to talk about. That’s a pretty exciting place for my listening experience to start when I don’t know you at all.
Stream or download Carpe Diem below: