Ben G at St. Pat’s in Five Points | photo by Jordan Lawrence
The line’s about getting high — but not in the way you’re thinking.
“Did an interview on an airplane,” Ben G spits, over insistent string hits and a loping beat, on “Heart of a Lion,” a choice cut from Hot Sauce, his newest mixtape.
It’s a true story, says the Columbia-raised rapper, born Ben Hiott — an interview for an independent rap website (he doesn’t remember which one) conducted via text message over the in-flight Wi-Fi. But the line’s really the starting point for a series of metaphors — a quadruple entendre, Hiott calls it — that encapsulates just where Hiott is at this point in his career.
“Life’s a rollercoaster, no fair, man,” he continues over the Supah Mario beat. “No elevators, just stairs, man / Gotta get it if you with it / I done did it for a minute / Still fixin’ to be up there, man.”
The connection, Hiott says?
“All these things have ups.”
What: Ben G
Where: TLC, 936 S. Stadium Rd.
When: Friday, June 6, 9 p.m.
With: Waka Flocka Flame, DJ B-Lord, Lucid, Flauhaus & Friends, more
More Info: 251-3087
Hiott’s been on the up since leaving Columbia. He moved to Atlanta around Thanksgiving, partly on the advice of Waka Flocka Flame, his rap-game mentor who folded Hiott into his Brick Squad Monopoly crew. He’s still on his own grind, but he’s diversified since relocating. He’s started taking on non-performing projects, managing some producers, and executive producing and doing A&R work for Waka Flocka Flame, particularly the rapper’s upcoming EDM-oriented release.
But his extracurricular activities haven’t dulled the emcee’s budding rap career. He drops the Hot Sauce mixtape on Thursday. It’s so named because hot sauce is “good on everything,” Hiott laughs, and so is he. “No matter [the beat], I can flow on it,” he says.
Hot Sauce certainly features a wide range of styles, and Hiott’s easygoing flow plays well with each. “Somewhere,” produced by Atlanta production team The Outsyders, is a meaty trap track with thick drops that pull like riptides. There’s “Get Crazy,” helmed by the late Speaker Knockerz; the less-is-more beat, built on a sawtooth eight-note bassline and low-impact hi-hat trills, recalls the static rhythmic beds of DJ Mustard, the West Coast producer who’s currently running club-oriented hip-hop. The Drumma Boy-produced “Start Up” rides a gritty, Lex Luger-ish beat that fits Hiott’s chirpy rhymes.
Those aren’t the only notable names on Hot Sauce. The collection boasts more star power than ever. Some are homies and frequent collaborators, like Waka and Gorilla Zoe, one of the first rappers to take a shine to Hiott. But there are new faces, too: 2 Chainz and B.o.B both appear. These are emcees that navigated the mixtape circuit to major-label success, and their presence here gives Hiott a startling amount of cred.
But Hiott’s especially careful to rep his hometown, too, and local musicians and producers feature prominently on Hot Sauce. In the same way Waka and Gorilla Zoe took a shot on him, Hiott’s trying to give the same helping hand to some of his longtime friends and collaborators, like Nique the Geek and Jesse Leprotti.
“I’ll open up the doors for anyone in my circle,” he says, so long as they produce “quality material that’s going to draw attention once the door’s open.”
One such producer is Supah Mario, who powers that brassy standout “Heart of a Lion.” Hiott’s put Supah Mario’s beats into the hands of some hot rappers, one of which was Young Thug; Complex named the Mario-produced “2 Cups Stuffed” as one of the rising rapper’s most essential cuts.
“He got a check from Atlantic,” Hiott says. “Kid is really getting going. He’s got the talent. He deserves it.”
Now, people are starting to think the same about Hiott. Consider the chorus of “Heart of a Lion,” barked by Waka. The elder’s gruff grumbles are his own, but the words sound like they could be taken Hiott’s own mouth: “Been puttin’ in work for a minute / Now it’s my time.”
The Other Place at Trustus Theatre
Juliana Smithton is a successful neurologist whose life seems to be coming unhinged. A mystery unfolds as fact blurs with fiction, past collides with present and the elusive truth of Juliana’s mental health boils to the surface in The Other Place, running at Trustus Theatre October 17th through November 1st. There will be a talk-back following the matinee on October 19th. Tickets can be purchased here or by calling the box office at 803-254-9732.
3LAU on Sunday, October 26th and the Unofficial Skrillex Mothership Tour After-Party on the 27th. More information and tickets for both can be found here. VIP tables available.
King Lear in Finlay Park
October 16th-18th and 22nd-25th, the South Carolina Shakespeare Company presents William Shakespeare’s King Lear. All performances held at the Finlay Park Ampitheatre at 7:30 PM. For tickets and more information, click here or call 803-665-2000.
Veteran Vapors now open!
Veteran-owned and operated, Veteran Vapors is located at 2308 Airport Blvd. in West Columbia. This month, 10% of all juice sales will be donated to Save the Ta-Tas. Special discounts available to veterans, military and public safety officials.
$10 Spa Specials!
Join us for 60-minute facials, microdermabrasion, bikini waxing, and more for only $10! 823 Gervais Street, Suite 120. Text your appointment request to 803-468-4643.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Local business is searching for new associates who are looking for a fun environment to earn great wages. Great position for college students/recent graduates. Must be well-mannered with excellent customer service skills/work ethic/ability to lift heavy items/must have valid Driver’s License. Call 803-376-4884 or email resume: email@example.com.
Real Estate Spotlight
Town Center Apartment Homes in Lake Carolina THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. Bran new apartments inside award-winning Lake Carolina. towncenteratlakecarolina.com
AVSX TECHNOLOGIES Your Home Is The Heart Of Your Family, Are You Protecting It? WWW.AVSX.COM