“Fuck your bitch, fuck your bitch, ayy," his fire lines say, but when it comes to baking, there are no problems. As Deliciious, rapper-baker extraordinaire Benetton Lim's fresh rhymes are just the tasty crust to what lies behind him. We sit down for a heartfelt interview with Deliciious and ask: How Deliciious is bread?
It’s 8pm, and Benetton finally joins the Zoom call. He told me he was rushing home from camp so I was half expecting him to be in camo when his screen lit up. I was instead greeted by an earnest kid in plain clothes, keen on sharing aspects of his multifaceted lifestyle - one that involves a love for rap, being an unlikely recipient of hate and... bread?
I heard somewhere that you studied the culinary arts at Shatec. How did that come to be?
It was right after secondary school. I went to ITE and studied P&B (Pastry & Baking) but I honestly wanted more so I immediately followed that up with a P&B diploma at Shatec. I guess, way before I started music, I was always involved in that life. I pretty much started out as a baker because I love bread a lot, ever since I was in secondary school. Especially Sourdough bread. You know sourdough bread? At the time, it wasn’t really a thing here but I felt like it was the best kind of bread out there. Unlike other breads, real sourdough uses natural things like apples to help ferment the bread. Crazy, right? It’s the little things like that that makes me love bread and it’s been that way ever since.
Benetton with his obvious bias for bread. Photo: Benetton Lim
Aside from bread, what are some other crazy stuff you got yourself involved in?
See, when I was in Shatec, I learnt a whole lot of different things. Met a lot of big and talented chefs like Francis Wong of “Non Entree Desserts” fame, who actually represented Singapore in international pastry cups in the past. He’s done a lot of crazy things like turning Nasi Lemak into a dessert and combining Bak Chor Mee with passionfruit. He’s insane and I’ve fortunately had the privilege of working with him. That inspired me to create wild combinations in my own pastry creations such as combining ginger with chocolate, amongst other things.
A day in the life of a pastry chef. Photo: Benetton Lim
So you’re in NS now. How does that affect you?
I've always wanted to work at a Michellin star restaurant when I hang my boots but I guess we’ll have to see because a lot of spots have been closing down because of COVID-19. So I’m honestly waiting to see what happens there. But it’s also been interesting because though I enlisted earlier this year, I didn’t really spend a lot of time in camp, especially during the lockdown. So that really gave me a lot of creative freedom to experiment with different pastries at home. But here’s a funny story. You know of the burnt cheesecake that’s all the rage right now? Did you know that it was actually a failed experiment? It’s pretty much the cake version of medium-rare beef. Traditionally speaking, it's just wrong because it's undercooked inside but “chao ta” on the top. Like, it’s raw?! I’ve never learnt or seen anything like that back in school but that’s pretty damn cool! Anyways, It's also funny because during lockdown, I had no luck whatsoever with stocking up on cream cheese because everyone was trying their hand at burnt cheesecake! It was pretty much sold out at every NTUC I went to! It’s crazy because everyone must’ve been getting really into desserts. So I figured, “Hey, I might as well get in on that” and started selling pastries online ever since.
So you’ve been home a lot, and you still managed to release your singles Problems and Minimum Wage during the time. Considering everything else you’ve been doing on the food side of things, how did you manage to squeeze that through?
Actually with Minimum Wage, I wrote it before lockdown. I had some time on my hands and I wanted to write a song about heartbreak. Right before isolation, I noticed a lot of couples who see each other daily getting on each other’s nerves over the smallest of things, getting into arguments and such. So I figured that I wanted to focus in on that. It was also partially inspired by a personal experience of mine from a while back. I used to be into this girl way back when but I didn't necessarily have any money at the time. I couldn't fulfil her materialistic fantasies so naturally, things went wayward. It was pretty upsetting, and when I saw all the couples I brought up earlier, it just reminded me of how relationships can be fractured by the littlest of things, which in my case, was living on minimum wage.
I think it's pretty interesting how you’re able to be inspired by something from a while back so vividly. There's a lot of people out there who struggle to find the inspiration to write and for you to actually be able to harness your older memories is pretty cool. So would you say that most of the songs you’ve written focus deeply onto your past?
Actually, I don't just write about the past. There’s a fair amount of the present and future in it too. Let’s look at Caramel, for example. It’s a love song but at the same time, I wanted to use lyrical metaphors from my other life as a pastry chef at the time by using playful, food-centric words like “caramel”, “cheesecake” and a bunch of other stuff. it’s a reflection of the present as well. I always found I find it interesting that not a lot of people out there incorporate food as a subject matter in music so I figured why not? It’s a very real part of me and who knows, that could probably be what makes me uniquely me.
Deliciious with his live DJ, DJ Tz. Photo: Benetton Lim
100%. I think strengthening that identity as you grow older could be a really endearing thing about Deliciious. But before we dive deeper into the present and the future, let's focus on the past for a second. When was the first time you released something?
In 2016. I basically used Audacity at the time. The software isn’t even that good but I was probably 15 or 16 at the time and didn't know any better. That's literally how I wrote my first ever song, Real Money, Real Talk, which I used to start my set with at the Big Duck MHC show last year. At the time, there was a particular sound I was going for, and Jaz from The Music Parlour really understood that. I really wanted to try my hand at metal rap in the vein of guys like Scarlxrd, so I also worked with Jaye (Funk), who also helped me on Mental Illness - an album that I’ve since deleted.
Why did you delete it?
I got heavily criticised for the release. There were a lot of hurtful comments thrown my way. I don't know how to tell you this - I just think a lot of people didn't understand what it really was and what I was sincerely trying to do. There were a lot of comments, easily by the hundreds. I got called “noisy”, and even told to not do music ever again. See, I was passionately into the idea of metal rap at the time. Aside from the emotional struggles I had, I was balancing music with the really fast-paced kitchen life. Typically, things gets pretty heated and with everything I was going through, it felt like that was the perfect form of release. It felt like a genuine output for me considering how overwhelming things were. But sadly, I got so much flak for it. So because of that, I felt that starting afresh again was the most reasonable thing to do.
So would you say that your change in sound was purely because of the hatred you were getting or was there something else?
I’d say that there’s a bit of both. Yes, the hatred did take a toll on me but at the same time, I was always looking to for fresher sounds. It’s a lot like my desserts. I’m always curious. I want to know what's driving the latest trends and why people like them. Whether it's purely because it's trendy or whether there's something actually nice and original about it. One person whom I’ve always been inspired by is Shigga Shay. I always wanted to incorporate Hokkien and Chinese into my music, as well as adopting a more “trappy”, “808” style to it. So I've been working on that, as you would have probably noticed with my most recent single Problems.
One last thing before we shift our focus onto the now and the tomorrows. Would you say that the comments from before were justified or unreasonable?
I personally think that it’s a life lesson. I try to take it positively. There's no point in feeling useless or bad about yourself. I mean, there's always something to learn from every failure in life and I believe that's probably the best way to turn failures into personal successes. Which is why I'm investing myself into a lot of projects now because I want to grow from that and improve.
So you’ve worked a lot with Jaz and Jaye in the past and they have certainly helped you a lot with your growth as a rapper. And since you’ve just alluded to having a lot of projects in the pipe works, have you also considered experimenting with different producers as well to expand your sound while you’re at it?
That’s a real funny question because that's exactly what I’ve been doing lately. When I was invited to play the Big Duck MHC gig last year, that's where I actually got to meet so many people for the first time. I’ve met the likes of ABANGSAPAU, TengyBoy and I even had writing sessions with them! It was so weird because the gig has opened up so many doors for me and I’m pretty grateful for that. Ever since then, I’ve been working with Cason and Max, the producers behind Yasai’s work as well as Wyane Hausley, who has produced Problems. They’re all pretty amazing producers and it’s just been great. I’m even working with Shorya for something next year so trust me, there's a lot that i’m trying to get involved with and it’s all pretty exciting.
Delicious Performing at the Big Duck MHC show in 2019 Photo: Isyariq Irfan
That is pretty exciting stuff man! So before we wrap this up, because you’ve made me hungry at this point, what's the next Deliciious release we can all be excited about?
That’ll be right before Halloween (30th October). It’s a track I did with TengyBoy called Taiji and it's produced by Yasai’s producers, Cason and Max. It’s going to be a crazy one. Aside from that, there’s also going to be another single in November as well as an EP some time next year but more on that in time bro! There’s definitely a lot of things to come so I got to keep the music fresh!
Just like Bread?
Listen to Deliciious’ latest single, Problems here: