Benny Nice • Casual Romance LP

Benny Nice’s sound is distinct in its rich textures and old school sensibility. The 119 co-founder provides a solid, well-put-together release that showcases his ability to assemble a full project with a conscious vibe. Casual Romance is heavily influenced by his move to New York City and getting out of his comfort zone. It features a bevy of talent, including Fernando Arias of The Avantist and Alex Silva of Faces of Man, that give the album a more personal feeling, a sense that friends put this together while having a good time.

That’s not to say that the album sounds rushed or unprofessional, it doesn’t. It has more of a rawness to it that provides a rewarding listen with many captivating moments. Standout track, “More Than Just” has a clanging xylophone and peppering of shakers that could get lost if you’re not paying attention, which is easy to do because Benny’s flow has a way of keeping you engaged. 

His production is well-crafted and bumps out nicely. “Speak Our Minds” is rooted in a groovy dub beats that sounds futuristic and rustic at the same time, and it works out perfectly. His voice sounds good, blending into the subtle wall of sound he creates where things seem to resonate at the same levels. 119 has a great third release in their ‘Artist Series,’ making them another imprint any Chicago music fan should keep their eyes on.

Learn more about Benny's new release straight from the man himself below. 

Can you talk more about your experience in Brooklyn and how it shaped this album?

Moving to Brooklyn from Chicago was about breaking a cycle. I loved growing up in the city and having such a rich community of artists and performers to feed off of. Getting out of my hometown meant leaving where I felt comfortable and I think taking that leap helped me feel emboldened to change my sound and my approach to this new project.

You seem to love collaborating with other artists. What do you look for out of an artist when thinking about them for your music?

Collaborating with other musicians is a must. This album had the crucial help of my long time friend and former bandmate Davis Jones. He and I worked together on this album to try and create an organic sound- no samples (even though I still love digging crates when making beats). The other vocalists on the album are people that have inspired me ever since I started making music. Matty Rico and I have been working together ever since opening for Lupe Fiasco at the Metro in 2005, Rich Jones and I have been friends since he was rapping with a broken leg out of Roycemore High School. These are old friends as well as incredible artists.

Can you talk more about 119 and what it means to be a part of the Artist Series? How do you feel the company has done since it’s founding?

119 has always been a creative outlet for all of us involved in it. We use it as a way to pool our resources and our ideas in order to bring projects to life. We could never have thrown the crazy installation parties, or film festivals, or concert series without the entire 119 team working in tandem.

Can you talk about your approach to atmosphere when creating music? Your songs seem to create a vivid imagery of place, and I’m wondering where that comes from.

Atmosphere is key when making music. Atmosphere also doesn’t always mean working from a positive vibe. Music is catharsis for me so I’m most inspired when undergoing stress, when dealing with obstacles. This album in particular is a recollection of heartbreaks and revelations all experienced within the last two years. It’s literally a labor of love.