Local Current Blog

H2 Local Spotlight: I.B.E. and Benzilla


Besides the fact that “This That And The Third” is a solid album musically and lyrically, there is an additional appealing feature, it is also a reminder of the important results of cultivating the culture.

I first became aware of both of the artists behind this project, I.B.E (The Intelligent Black Enterprise) and Benzilla, from the same channels. I was introduce to their artistic efforts, individually, from their affiliation and work with I Self Devine and then further exposed to their growth from their collaborations with Big Quarters. For the first years of my awareness of their existence on the scene they each kept busy building their reputation and skills; I.B.E as a hype man with I Self, which was instrumental in his development into a dynamic performer on his own, as well as his string of guest vocal performances. Meanwhile, Benzilla made his name with a rather impressive record of quality beats for local projects, participation in beat battles and showcases, and a few instrumental projects.

Eventually, that grew into I.B.E releasing a few mixtapes, such as “The Feel” and “That Tape” and Benzilla’s joint production venture with BK One, “Radio Do Canibal” released on Rhymesayers.

Along those journeys, these two rising individuals crossed paths on more than a few occasions, which ultimately resulted in this full length collaborative project that has been in the making for about two years. The album’s artwork, done by the talented Andres Guzman, captures the feel of the project; there’s a heavy sense of community with a bright and colorful essence, but it’s effectively contrasted with darker tones and imagery.

“This That And The Third” pulls no punches with the guest appearances, which include I Self Devine, Toki Wright, M.anifest, Greg Grease, Akrite, K Raydio, & Slug, as well as some co-production by Mike Swoop on the whole album and Medium Zach and BK One assisting with one track each. Benzilla shows a nice range of production, allowing I.B.E to cover an assortment of emotions and topics. I.B.E is also constantly learning how to better use his voice as an instrument, which is accented on the hooks for track such as “Standing Right Here” and “This Is Love.”

“This That And Third” is among the latest additions to the quality Twin Cities releases this year with a well-crafted album that showcases the collective wealth of their experiences.

Catch Kevin Beacham and Siddiq’s hip-hop show H2 every Wednesday night at 10 p.m. on 89.3 The Current. Their all-Minnesota hip-hop show, H2 Local, airs Tuesdays at noon and Wednesday nights at 11 p.m. on the Local Current stream. You can listen to the Local Current stream at thecurrent.org/local, on HD radio in the Twin Cities at 89.3 HD2, and via the MPR Radio app, which is available for iPhones and Androids.