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NorthSideBenji — The Extravagant Collection

Ontario: Top 10 of 2021

by Daniel McIntosh

The last time we heard from NorthSideBenji was in the summer of 2019, on an impressive run of EPs and giving rare radio appearances. We may only hear from him occasionally but the lurid storytelling and range of flows on The Extravagant Collection proves he’s worth the wait and poised for so much more. In between braggadocio (“Ashes to Ashes”) and auto-tuned confessionals (“Problems to Millions”), Benji reveals a penchant for bringing a surprising amount of levity to his nightmarish storytelling of street life. 

Bo Burnham’s transcendent comedy special isn’t the only great piece of COVID-adjacent art titled Inside released this year. The indie-rock quintet’s latest opens and closes with the sounds of the 7pm clanging pots and pans that once heralded the essential workers, and many of the tracks find them grappling with introspective thoughts while trapped in a room – being stuck inside one’s own head being an even worse fate than the physical boundaries.