Benny Starr

Crown of SC

Benjamin Starr puts activism at the forefront of his all-encompassing live recording of A Water Album

Benjamin Starr speaks softly when he's not in a recording booth. His words are regularly full of emotion but sound as if they were chosen prudently. Starr's tactful diction and cool mood out of the spotlight stand in contrast to his talkative vigor on stage and his take-no-prisoners attitude in the rhyme book. 

Maybe it's his adaptability, maybe it's his peaceful confrontation of social injustice, or maybe it's just his beats and words, but Starr knows how to captivate a room. And that's a skill he will put to good use with his latest release, titled A Water Album

The new LP is not a live album in the traditional sense. Yes, Starr will record a performance of a show in front of eager fans, but every song is new and unheard. A Water Album is the long-awaited follow-up to 2015's Free Lunch

"I think the best way for me to capture all of those things, that mental, spiritual, emotional connection with the people in the city where I wrote this album is to do it live, and bring people into that recording process," says Starr.

Heath Ellison Charleston City Paper READ MORE

HIP-HOP | Live from the Underground

he Purple Buffalo has shown a ton of love to local underground hip-hop since the venue's opening last November, first with Black Dave's Charleston Hype shows and then with IllVibeTheTribe's Elevators showcases. But this show will be a little different from the usual weekend night indoor party vibe — this is Live from the Underground: The Cookout. It's a day show and the second of a series of three hip-hop concerts presented by Mac N Tee (rapper SALIS and PR pro Tawana Tee). Starting at 3 p.m., emcees will take to an outdoor stage while Sun of a Brunch Catering (owned and operated by Dominique Solone of Goose Creek) fire up the grill, creating a music fest vibe where downtown and North Chuck intersect. On the menu, you'll find cookout classics, like barbecue chicken, pork ribs, beef ribs, and sausage dogs, plus all the Southern fixins: baked beans, mac 'n' cheese, corn on the cob, jambalaya, seafood salad, and, bonus, a good ol' fashioned shrimp boil with corn, red potatoes, and sausage. (Meat and two sides is $10; shrimp boil is also $10.) They'll also have ginger lemonade to wash it all down, and, never fear, the venue will serve up plenty of stiff beverages. Hosted by Black Dave, the music continues until 8 p.m. and on the bill are local emcees SALIS, Benjamin Starr, VT the Fresh Prince, and Walter Brown performing everything from old-school hip-hop to trip to country rap. D Money and Ray Deez of Retro Flow Ent., CashFirst Jazz, and a surprise guest will also perform. —Kelly Rae Smith SATURDAY

HIP-HOP | Benjamin Starr

Rapper Benjamin Starr's 2015 album Free Lunch should need no introduction for local hip-hop fans. It was an infectious mix of laid-back jazz beats and heartfelt lyrics that demanded a societal course correction. Needless to say, it was easy to fall for. Starr kept rapping his way through concrete walls in 2016 with his involvement in the Very Hypnotic Soul Band and his single "Flowers," featuring local emcee hero Matt Monday. This year, Starr's returning to the world of solo records with a dedicated sequel to Free Lunch, titled der. The pronunciation is "water," by the way. "It's what I feel is needed after Free Lunch," says Starr. "[Free Lunch] had a defiant tone. It was like me speaking to anybody looking to devalue my people ... [der] is like my back is turned on speaking to them, and I'm speaking directly to my community." The new album will feature members of the Very Hypnotic Soul Band. Lyrically, the upcoming release will concentrate on various topics like spirituality, love, and the relationships between black men, women, and youth. "I'm just diving deeper into being more open emotionally." d r is expected to get a release in mid-August. ­ —Heath Ellison THURSDAY

Hip Hop & #WomensHistoryMonth: Fly Medium by Benjamin Starr

"It’s Women’s History Month, and what a perfect time to use this month to honor women from across the globe. This month we are sharing hip-hop tributes (from men) to women everywhere. Some claim that hip-hop is a genre that doesn’t respect women, and that our culture and our music doesn’t honor women. However, this month, we are focused on all the men in hip-hop who have used their creativity, hearts, and souls to dedicate their music to women everywhere! Fly Medium, isn’t just hip-hop, it isn’t just rap – its prose, its art, and it is a testament to the beauty of black women and all the “fly mediums” everywhere.  It’s dope…" - Syllabus Magazine 

Hip Hop History at the Hall

"Anfernee lit up the stage with a mixture of snappy lyrics and silky vocals that made the ladies stand to their feet. Walter Brown came with 808s laden with reflective, passionate lyrics, which engaged his audience on multiple levels. Benjamin Starr ripped the mic with political and societal reflections woven through rhyme schemes that nodded to true musical talent. The show was unforgettable." - Vaughn Postema, The Charleston Chronicle

Charleston Music Hall debuts Charleston Live with a night of local hip-hop

"People have realized that you can't just tuck yourself away and live in this bubble, untouched," he explains. "Tragedies like the Emanuel shootings, the whole trial process, the Michael Slager trial, the election — all of these things are kind of instances where you really have to look at this bubble y'all are living in. What are you doing to really be honest? Because it's not even revolutionary what's going on, as dope as it is. [And] when you start being honest in a place like Charleston, how honest is it to not recognize that hip-hop is an art in its various forms? How can you continuously tuck yourself away in a bubble and not see culture for what it is?" - Kyle Petersen - Charleston City Paper

Music, Moments, Messages... and Me

"I became a teenager in the year 2000, and it wasn't until then that I began to understand the immortality of Brother Marvin, thanks to his masterpiece, What's Going On. Beautiful records like "Inner City Blues," "God is Love," and "What's Happening, Brother" forced me to grapple with my own desire for love, an almost spiritual love, which I felt I was missing. I knew that what I heard in his music, I felt in my heart, and it was comforting to know someone else shared that." - Benjamin Starr, The Lit Issue


“Starr just released his newest single, “Flowers,” also featuring Matt Monday. With production from SwaVay & Kurious George, Benjamin displays his excellent skills on the mic. He’s a real spitter as well as a lyricist, and there is charisma oozing all over this track. His boisterous vocal energy and flow is a nice contrast to the chill, slick and slightly moody production. You can’t deny his talent, and he knows this and is letting you know.” - Stephen Jordan - I Am The Industry

Benjamin Starr - Free Lunch (Album Review)

“In the wake of many racially charged occurrences in America, hip-hop (along with many other things) has been more vocal about overcoming racial barriers. The music has been used as a means to display pride and rich culture that’s impossible to hide. That being said, nothing is more topical than the album “Free Lunch”. Free Lunch expresses hunger, self-love, and a passion to fight injustice with the will of a warrior king. Benjamin Starr reveals his self, his passion, his mic skill, his pride, his culture, and his versatility in this project.” - itzdadiabolical - Ok-Tho Mag


“Remember pouched milk? In today’s underground arena, the state of North Carolina has showcased immense talent over the recent months. If you include Little Brother, Rapsody and J.Cole into the mix, we can easily testify that they’ve had a strong decade of delivering hip hop in the purest form. In the same breath, we’d like to introduce everyone to the gritty, conscious and precisely spoken, Benjamin Starr. With a production ensemble that compliments alluring lyrics found in tracks like “Wonderful Love”, it seems as though his “Free Lunch Album” was custom fitted for rap fans that seek music with a true message. On the slew placed “Movies”, Benjamin touches both historical and unfortunately, yet current events affecting many of us in today’s society – physiologically and physically!” - Str8OutDaDen