Written by Erin Grace
“BENNIE BECCA” is the self-titled album created by the BENNIE K and Becca collaboration. In this album, Yuki moves away from the mic to focus on producing, leaving Cico to rap against Becca, a newer artist on the J-Rock scene.
I was excited coming into “BENNIE BECCA.” Although BENNIE K isn’t my usual M.O. music-wise, I’ve always loved their hip hop fusions with different musical styles – their album “THE WORLD” was a particular treat for me. As a J-Rock fan, I was especially intrigued that they planned to collaborate with Becca: I figured pairing BENNIE K with rock could only make the music even better. (Though I also couldn’t help but think that since BENNIE K wasn’t broken, why fix it?) I was a little concerned to hear that Yuki was backing out to focus on producing, but Becca’s voice delivers: it’s strong and bold, and complements Cico’s rapping the way that Yuki’s did, if in a different way. Although I can’t say that she’s a “replacement” for Yuki, she’s a worthy stand in. Cico’s rapping is solid as ever, though it’s clear that some of the English sections challenge her abilities to get her mouth around the words.
The first half of the album lives up to the potential this match-up has: after the intro, in which they state their purpose as “changing the word with music,” the album picks up with several good selections. “Dreamer” is solid song that mixes in a pop/punk feel with the hip hop and sounds a bit like classic BENNIE K; “Kaminari Girl” is a little heavier with some synth hop elements; “Narita Express” is a lighter song more in the alternative range, and in my opinion is one of the best songs on the album. “YOU &Me” is light synth hop with a kind of Black Eyed Peas vibe; “Ashita” moves toward pop ballad with a tough of soft rock, featuring Blaise Plant from MONKEY MAJIK and with almost no rapping from Cico, but still a solid song that’s fun to listen to.
However, after the Interlude, the album falters: “Japaneedle” is catchy, but has the most annoying lyrics I’ve ever heard, made worse by being in English; “Dilemmas” is a synth pop number with Latin undertones and it should be good, but Cico’s pronunciation of the English lyrics kills me in a bad way, and is impossible to ignore. “Don’t Save Me” has a harder alternative rock sound and is essentially a solid song, but is somewhat boring and empty-sounding, like something you’d hear on a “Sailor Moon” compilation album. “So Bad” is just a travesty: annoyingly repetitive with an overly obvious clap track.
The album starts to come back up a little with “Cinderella Syndrome,” which is an interesting speed pop bit that features a duel between guitar and record scratches with very few vocals. “2012” continues to move the album up a bit: a rap metal song that gets back to the heart of what BENNIE K is about in the interplay between Becca’s and Cico’s vocals.
However, what little the end of the album gains from these two songs is lost with “The Beginning,” which once again feels empty and boring with cheesy industrial elements. “2013 -Kochira Seizansha Ari-” closes out the album, with Becca and Cico replaced entirely by a male vocalist. It’s upbeat and funny, but after the last several tracks of mostly sad, boring, or annoying music, it just doesn’t have the power to save the album.
Despite all the potential that this match-up has – and delivers on through the first half of the album – it begins to lose steam and self-destruct as the album goes on. Interesting, creative music gives way to flat, boring, or blatantly annoying songs that very nearly ruin the album altogether. I’ll be honest: the first time I listened to “BENNIE BECCA,” I found the last half so frustrating to listen to that I forgot how good the beginning was and found myself actually repulsed by the idea of listening to it again to write this review. However, on subsequent listens I re-discovered how good the first tracks are and genuinely enjoyed myself until the Interlude. Is this the worst album I’ve ever listened to? Not a chance: the first set of songs keeps it well out of that category, no matter how hard the last half tries. But is it an album that I’d recommend to others? Not really.
If you’re a hardcore BENNIE K or Becca fan, nothing I say will stop you from buying it. But if you’re not a hardcore fan of either, it’s hard for me to say that “BENNIE BECCA” as an entire album is worth your time or money. However, it’s not worth abandoning, either. Instead, I suggest listening to the CD online, then buying the specific tracks you like rather than the whole album. It just isn’t worth $30 plus shipping, but at least half the album is easily worth the dollar or so you’ll pay per song at the iTunes store or on Zune Marketplace if they show up stateside– they won’t let you down.