ben-in-blackVirgin Islands native Benny Demus, infamous for being the kilt-wearing, fire-breathing, mohawk-sporting selector for Akon and Rock City, recently dropped his Ben In Black Mixtape, and, no, he isn’t spinning; he’s rapping, with the raspy growl of an angry, caged animal. While it is difficult for some DJs and selectors to evolve without being typecast,  Akon’s DJ is also a DeeJay, and a rapper, as exemplified on his latest release.

While it’s natural to normally associate reggae and dancehall with
its birthplace of Jamaica, Big Bad Benny Demus’ message is that the Virgin Islands is not to be ignored in terms of talent. Benny D is to the VI what Bob Marley is to Jamaica and Collie Buddz is to Bermuda, i.e., a musical ambassador. With a hardscrabble, single-parent upbringing familiar to many ghetto youth, his true-to-life lyrics pierce bitterly one moment, while evoking hope and encouragement the next.  While disreputable anti-heroes-with-attitude have typical cache in the rap game, Benny D comes across as strikingly more sincere,  and intelligent, than your average gunman-turned-musician. This is definitively elucidated on Track #19, the aptly titled Path to Ambassador. “I was a misled, to believe I had the chance to get the go-ahead, to pursue my dreams, but I’m from the islands, and people always seem to want to stereotype us. See we have an attitude, and we talk rude, some people think we don’t even have schools...”

On  track 10,
Not Tonight, Period!!! (featuring Tori Alamaze), a seductively smooth ladies jam,  his appeal to women is explained by the dichotomy of his nature, both past- the hood dreamer, who will make a women a screamer, and  present- the iconoclast, who is the mack in the sack. While you are left with the distinct, overall impression that Benny D would “saw your head off with his sawed off ” just as soon as look at you,  you still can’t help but want to come a little closer.