Alabama Mike – Stuff I’ve Been Through

Alabama Mike Tells His Truth On Stuff I’ve Been Through

Anyone listening to Alabama Mike has a simple choice:  Brace yourself for some raw and sometimes uncomfortable truth, or run the other way. His new album, Stuff I’ve Been Through, is loaded with 11 original songs that pit Alabama Mike face-to-face with what he sees in today’s society.  

The album (release date May 12, 2023 on Little Village) features Alabama Mike (Michael Benjamin) at his most outspoken. It weaves from old-school Southern soul to straight-ahead blues to the earthy street-funk and R&B gleaned from his blue-collar neighborhood of Richmond, Calif., where he has lived for the past 25 years. And, there’s a gospel power to this music that increases its intensity.

“My reality might be different, but that doesn’t make it wrong,” Mike says. “It just reflects me. As an artist, you have to know what you are, and more importantly, what you are not.”

Produced by Christoffer “Kid” Andersen at Greaseland in San Jose, Calif., the album shows unabashed candor, beginning with the survivor’s tale of the title cut.  Alabama Mike recounts life’s missteps and emerges battered with the knowledge that a higher power pulled him through.

This is evidence that Alabama Mike is one of the few blues artists today who writes strong, memorable songs that are simultaneously unique, but steeped in blues tradition. He writes about modern themes, making his music work in a way that’s natural and not contrived.  The songs reflect his personality: unabashed, self-assured and swaggering at times.

The music is raw-edged yet reflects the complex and realistic person that is Alabama Mike.

The tracks “Fat Shame Pt. 1” and “Fat Shame Pt. 2” are at the core of Mike’s fearless approach to songwriting.  He’s not about to let anyone dictate how he should look or act. He makes that as a personal statement, but also has a universality to it that includes empowerment lessons for everyone. 

“This Ain’t No DizneyLand” challenges the perception that life in California is gold-plated. No, Mike reveals, the Golden State is as plagued as anywhere else with its share of hard-luck tales and poverty-stricken warts.  He makes his point about the region’s affluence, by assuring listeners that he won’t be found shopping at a luxurious mall, but rather at the 99-Cent Store.        

There’s a lot of personality here, and that a testament to his skills that he can steer clear of conventional stereotypes. It’s a tricky form of social commentary that few dare tackle.

Alabama Mike challenges the listener at every turn to accept him no matter how hard that may be. But his songwriting is so self-assured and compassionate that he wins over listeners just by being himself.

“My music finds it own path. I just go along with it,” he says. “And, it winds up being what I am.”