Box Bennstrom aka Box!, is a hip hop artist out of Austin, Texas. From the trombone to the drums to beatboxing and now rapping, he has been doing music since he was in the sixth grade. After the success of his debut album “8417 the Tesseract”, released in May 2018, Box! bounces back with a brand new mixtape in 2019, entitled “Mountain Valley Creek”. Box!’s intricate lyricism and the brilliantly schizophrenic and experimental production form a beautiful team. He wants to exceed listeners’ expectations, showcasing disparate elements of electronic and rap music into one all-encompassing alternative journey. And succeeds. Even though the emphasis of the record is on its expansive production, the lyrics and Box!’s vocals are more telling than they’ve ever been. While each song has a solid musical backbone, it’s Box!’s eerie and darkly toned narratives that make the most profound impact, and move the mixtape forward.
Once you’ve got a few successful releases under your belt and you’ve established yourself as an artist, you’ll be given the green light to create whatever you want without questioning. That’s how it works in the major label game. It’s the exact opposite in the underground industry.
And thank the heavens it works that way, or else left-field productions like “Mountain Valley Creek”, would not be possible. Neither would artists like Box! have reason to exist. From the moment “Crook” ft. Nordskii (prod. Nordskii) kicks off the proceedings, you feel you’re in a different lane.
The beat, the vibe, and the lyrical flow has some great ideas, as Box! focuses and fully capitalizes on them. On “Cognitive” ft. 220 Gene (prod. SeriouzBeats), the beat remains slow-burning, with warm keys and synth flourishes washing over the track.
Warped vocal effects and quick-thinking lyrical exchanges give the song some exciting dynamics. This music is different. It’s new, and it’s a beam of light through the clouds of typical, mainstream music. And it gets even better on “Sp1t T3chs” (prod. Venxm). The layered vocals adds a haunting atmospheric twist to song that already has a sinister and ominous soundscape.
Song after song, Box! blends diverse elements with rap and hip-hop beats, delivering creativity and variation on a level that I haven’t seen in many other artists, and that’s why it’s great. “Everynight” (prod. Vector High), is probably the most diverse track on the mixtape. Mixing Goth and Darkwave sounds with a deep resonating and melodic vocal, Box! calculatingly steps into the synth-wave arena.
There can be no doubt at this point that “Mountain Valley Creek” contains a cluster of genre-bending songs. Box! stretches the boundaries of hip-hop and it can either bewilder fans or become highly addictive.
Sonically, this mixtape pushes the imagination, captivating the listener and taking them into a space where there is beautiful keyboards and atmospheric soundscapes that play against dark and haunting vocals. Box!’s provocative lyrics and wordplay shines and the aura of each song is intoxicating. Overall, the “Mountain Valley Creek” journey sounds more like an mysterious adventure.