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For me, hip-hop music that can best be defined as “chill” usually makes for good background music, and not a whole lot else. Usually. With his new tune “Mantra”, London’s Benny Mails breaks that mold by deftly keeping things laid back without ever holding back, in a paradoxically relaxing track about teenage anxiety.

Homegrown London-grime influences and trans-Atlantic heroes like Nas both had a hand in shaping Benny’s style, as is evidenced by the combination of tight-but-meandering flows and an unmistakable English wit. Like listening to an uninterrupted stream of thought, we’re pulled through highs and lows over the course of “Mantra”. There are mood swings marked by waxing and waning tinges of vocal aggression, making for a deeply realistic sense of the artist’s personality, and giving an extra dose of sympathetic weight to the personal truths and secrets being disclosed.

Mind over matter
Mine doesn’t matter
Soul in collateral
Spine in the spanner

Like an actual mantra, “Mantra” bears repeating. A razor-toothed MC with an incredible sense of restraint, Benny Mails is one to watch.

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