Here is the Sincerely Benson album review! In recent years, BNXN has become somewhat of a “cheat code” to successfully achieve a commercial hit in the Nigerian music industry and the Afrobeats spectrum at large. The singer’s resonant vocal texture, paired with his deep-cut lyricism, vocal glissando, and trademark melodies, has made him one of the most outsourced singers of his generation, a go-to for a winning hook or chorus.
However, BNXN’S commercial strength over the years has greatly relied on his laurels as a chorus leader on featured records as opposed to his solo efforts. This seeming inability to replicate the genius that he has invested in the songs of others into his recording has subsequently led to several empirical views that have often threatened to question and trivialise his reputation as a hit-maker, leaving for a public allusion that his hit-making talent only comes into play in songs where the baton has been passed to him, furthermore implying that the artist can’t carry his weight (figuratively speaking, of course).
While such claims might hold water and are very valid opinionated views, they, however, seem limited to a myopic interpretation of what Bnxn’s art should sound like either as a solo or featured act, ultimately displaying the quintessential industry-led mirage that has vehemently championed the narrative of solo “hits” over artistic collaborations and the strength that lies therein.
Of course, this is not to say that solo hits aren’t a vast description of an artist’s talent; in fact, they are very much sacrosanct in keeping the career of any artist afloat. However, in Bnxn’s case, his inability to be a serial solo hitmaker hasn’t diminished his inherent artistry, and he makes this glaring in his debut full-length body of work, ‘Sincerely, Benson’.
Dating back to the early days when BNXN first went by the alias BUJU, the singer has always thrived better on slow-metered and mid-tempo beats that embodied more rhythm and blues, Afro-pop elements that allowed for his songwriting penchant (songs like ‘Energy,’ ‘A Day in Lagos,’ and ‘Commander’ would suffice). In the singer’s LP debut effort, he dogmatically sticks to this formula.
On record opener ‘My Life’, smooth fingerpicked guitar progressions reminiscent of an R&B ballad precede Bnxn’s slight off-key rendition of an introspective number centred on retrospection.
My Life is quickly followed by ‘Best of Me’, a delicious high-pitched bounce that is largely a by-product of British producer JAE5’s genius. BNXN’s penmanship is one of the song’s high-key moments, as is his brilliant interpolation of a Santan Dave lyric.
The digital tropical xylophone melodies of ‘Maximum Damage,’ featuring UK rapper Headie One, are matched with hefty kicks and Buju’s tonics.
Mukulu starts with a lacklustre delivery in the opening chorus before being aptly revived by its preceding verse, in which Bnxn flows seamlessly. The lushly produced Afro-pop ballad tries to sway a lover.
‘Gwagwalada’ featuring Kizz Daniel and Seyi Vibez makes the next entry, and the hit record speaks for itself. Gwagwalada is followed by a sensational feat at sampling in the form of ‘English and Pidgin’. The Sarz produced bop samples of the vocals of the Canadian band, Magic!’s lead singer, Nasri.
For most of Bnxn’s debut full-length body of work, it is easy to decipher that the soundscape is targeted at an organic spectrum of music listeners. This is perhaps why ‘Sincerely, Benson’ might project itself as a repetitious album as it aims to reflect the sonic sincerity of its progenitor- even if it means featuring a barrage of “odd” sounds that are otherwise not considered commercial, boring, or monotonous, and one would like to think this is fair, especially if you resonate with most of the album’s thematic expressions.
Overall, ‘Sincerely, Benson’ is Bnxn’s declaration of sonic authenticity, a refusal to kowtow to what the industry thinks is selling.
In summary, his debut album 'Sincerely, Benson' reflects his commitment to his signature style, challenging the industry's preference for solo hits over artistic collaborations.
- Production 9
- Sequencing 5
- Delivery 8