The Extravagant Collection – NorthSideBenji

The long-awaited sophomore album from Brampton native NorthSideBenji, The Extravagant Collection was finally released after two years of near silence. While he featured on a few songs with Headie One, Nines, and appeared on the 6ixbuzz compilation album Canada’s Most Wanted, NorthSideBenji has mostly kept to himself since the tragic passing of Houdini. The two were childhood friends and longtime collaborators with Benji often referring to Houdini as “Twin” in his music. Houdini was on pace to crossover into the mainstream as he took a trip to LA to feature alongside Pop Smoke and talk with labels. Unfortunately, he passed upon returning to Toronto during the pandemic and remains one of the biggest what-ifs in the history of Toronto rap. On The Extravagant Collection, Benji takes up the mantle of being Toronto’s biggest rapper and dedicates the album to Houdini’s memory.

NorthSideBenji has always been much quieter than his fellow Toronto rappers. Releasing music sporadically, he tends to put a laser-like focus on production value and frequently experiments with his vocals. Unlike the other rappers in the city, he also seems content leaving the politics out of his music and concentrating on how to grow as an artist. This dedication to his craft is what led to his viral success on Fire In The Booth and labels taking notice. The Extravagant Collection continues that trend with NorthSideBenji taking more risks in developing a unique sound. Upon the first listen, it’s immediately clear from the production value and mixing why the album took so long to drop. On the opener “Long Live Twin”, Benji raps over a coastal beat: “They don’t know me and Twin independent/I ain’t gon see my Twin in a minute, it’s crazy”. Songs like “Money Showers” allow Benji to take his vocals in more experimental directions as he shoots up registers during the chorus. The triumphant “Driver” has Benji affirming his successes, luxurious lifestyle, and pride. The album has two relatively lowkey features from Melii and Vory but Benji always remains the focal point throughout.

The Extravagant Collection is unlike anything from the Toronto scene right now but the main question is whether it will have crossover appeal. NorthSideBenji has already become one of the biggest faces in Toronto rap and his collaborations with Nines have also given him a UK audience. He’s more than capable of achieving success in America the same way that Pressa has. However, there are moments when The Extravagant Collection feels a little unfocused as the songs slowly blur together and it’s here that Benji’s style falters most. The production does most of the legwork during these sections as Benji’s vocals feel like an afterthought. This is most apparent during the parts where Benji stays in his comfort zone with his vocals and they feel static compared to other songs. That said, these moments are rare and during the 30-minute runtime, Benji proves that he can set himself apart from the crowd. While The Extravagant Collection isn’t perfect, the direction he’s headed in is the brightest of all Toronto’s independent stars. Carrying Houdini’s legacy won’t be easy but if anyone can do it, it’s NorthSideBenji.

Must Listens: Money Showers, Driver, Ashes to Ashes


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I turned my incoherent ramblings on music, anime, and video games into an entire blog.

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