Q&A With Tel-Aviv Hip Hop Artist Benjamin Elia$

Congratulations on your latest Album release “On The Way”. We checked it out and we really enjoyed the fresh new sound & perspective on new Hip Hop coming out of Tel-Aviv. What motivated you to create this style of music. And how did you come up with your MC name Benjamin Elia$?
So glad that you guys enjoyed the project. I’ve been creating music for years and throughout it all my goal has been to find my own unique sound. The truth is, most of that is trial and error and just discovering the things that work for my ears. I love writing parts for female vocalists so that became a big part of the style I chose for “On the Way”. My stage name is actually pretty personal, my first name is Ben and my great-grandfather was named Elias so I just put those two together. I decided to add the dollar sign as an homage to 90’s hip-hop.
How is the underground sound out in Tel-Aviv right now?
I would say that Tel-Aviv is definitely an up and coming scene because hip-hop is a little bit newer out here. We have some really talented artists though and quite a few incredible producers. I participate in a weekly cypher that is steadily growing and hopefully we’ll be able to start more events like that once the lockdown restrictions begin to ease.
How are you dealing with this whole nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19 CoronaVirus? Has this affected your music career in any way?
Yeah, this has been a tough time for sure. I’ve been using this time to focus on the digital side of things as much as possible but that’s been quite a challenge to be frank because such a big part of music is the actual human interaction. I’m definitely eager for live shows to return.
Who are your biggest Hip Hop influences?
I love rappers that are not only great lyricists but who also push boundaries and create a unique sound. Mac Miller, Vince Staples and Tyler the Creator are some of my favorites from the modern era. I also love OutKast and Kanye, especially his earlier stuff. I’m a huge fan of old school hip-hop as well so artists like Nas, Black Star and Wu-Tang are huge inspirations.

You recently dropped a new Album “On The Way” across all streaming platforms! Please give us some background on that project!? Could you tell me the inspiration behind the project and artwork?
On the Way just kind of created itself. It started out as two singles and then two more singles and then it just kind of became this whole cohesive project. I moved to Israel when I was 13 and to me “On the Way” is about a unique journey I went through, having been raised in two different places. It’s about an inner journey that leads to self-discovery. The theme of the album is “you never end up where you think you’re going” and I think that’s a relatable and important message. The artwork is a really important part of the puzzle and it was created by two close friends who have been supporting my art from the beginning. Each picture on the cover represents a different song, which gives it this kind of random and nostalgic look, which I think captures the album pretty perfectly.
How does social media play a role in pushing Benjamin Elia$ music.
Social media is something that’s actually a pretty big challenge. It’s undoubtedly very important and I do my best to keep all my socials up to date, but it’s definitely a work in progress for me. I’m probably the most active on Instagram and hopefully as more people discover my music I’ll be able to use the platforms to create a feeling of community and stay in touch with the people supporting me.
What are a few different moves you’re making for 2020 when it comes to your music career?
Releasing my album was a big one. I’m going to focus on continuing the promotion and reaching as many ears as possible. Hopefully I’ll be able to book some shows at some point in 2020 because a huge part of what I’m trying to create is an interactive experience that includes live instrumentation. Other than that, I’m hoping to work with some established artists and producers in Israel to begin raising my profile.
We have to ask, with all this social discourse and revolt in the USA, protesting and rioting, exposed police brutality toward blacks and BLM, how do you feel about this? We would love your perspective on the climate we are living in right now?
That’s a great question and I’m really glad you asked about that. in Israel there are currently massive protests against corruption in the government and although it’s a different issue, I feel that we are also experiencing lots of unrest right now. Ultimately, I think that its important to make noise if we want to see changes being implemented in society and I stand with anyone who is protesting against injustice. Hopefully people will begin to see all the evil that goes on every day and we’ll be able to restructure these institutions to create a much healthier and safer society for everyone. I’ll never quite understand what it means to be black in America (or anywhere for that matter) but I know that I’ll use any platform I have to help empower those communities in any way I can.

Our most popular question….What is your definition of “Underground Hip Hop”?
It’s funny because hip-hop in it of itself started as an underground art form and is now the leading music genre. To me, underground is music that hasn’t reached the mainstream yet. In today’s music industry, everyone’s a little bit indie but that doesn’t necessarily mean underground. Underground music is usually honest, raw and where artists really begin to discover themselves and I think that’s what makes it so good.
Where can our BLOG audience find your music and follow you on social media?
Just look up Benjamin Elia$ on all streaming platforms. I also have a YouTube channel that features videos for some of my songs. Also feel free to follow me on Instagram and Facebook by looking up “Benjamin Elias Music”.
Any Shout Outs?
My producers Oscar Fox and Raz Stamper. I couldn’t have made this album without them. Also “Big Jerm” who mixed the project. He’s an incredible producer and he did a great job with the engineering on this one Lastly, “Yugs” who is a childhood friend and fellow musician who encouraged me to pursue my passion.
Follow Benjamin Elia$ on Instagram @benjamineliasmusic.


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