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Album Review: Sincerely, Benson by Bnxn

Since emerging onto the scene at the very end of the 2010s, Bnxn has rapidly evolved into one of the most dynamic and recognizable voices in Nigerian popular music. His talent is indisputable, as evidenced by his prestigious Next Rated Artist award at The Headies, triumphing over rising stars like Ruger, Ayra Starr, Lojay, and Zinoleesky. He’s not only an artistic force but a commercial success, headlining a sold-out show at London’s Indigo O2 last November, solidifying his international presence.

Bnxn is characterized by his distinctive nasal tenor, gentle mid-tempo delivery, and meticulous songwriting, enabling him to explore a spectrum of emotions, from vulnerability to self-assuredness to sensuality. His resonant vocal texture, combined with profound lyricism, vocal glissandos, and signature melodies, make him a sought-after collaborator for captivating hooks and choruses.

Now, at the age of twenty-six, after two EPs and numerous singles, Bnxn has unveiled his debut album, “Sincerely, Benson.” The album, consisting of fifteen tracks, takes inspiration from Burna Boy’s “Love, Damini” with its epistolary theme. This connection is not coincidental, as Bnxn was previously signed to Burna Boy’s label and drew influence from the Grammy-winning artist in various ways.

Throughout his musical journey, from his earlier moniker as BUJU to his current identity as Bnxn, he has thrived on slow and mid-tempo beats infused with elements of rhythm and blues and Afro-pop. This musical backdrop provides the ideal canvas for his songwriting prowess, exemplified by tracks like ‘Energy,’ ‘A Day in Lagos,’ and ‘Commander.’

The album commences with ‘My Life,’ featuring smooth fingerpicked guitar progressions reminiscent of an R&B ballad. Bnxn’s introspective lyrics add depth to the track. ‘Best of Me’ follows, a highly appealing high-pitched groove enhanced by British producer JAE5’s expertise. Bnxn’s lyrical prowess shines here, along with his clever interpolation of a Santan Dave lyric.

‘Digital tropical xylophone melodies’ characterize ‘Maximum Damage,’ featuring UK rapper Headie One. ‘Mukulu,’ a lushly produced Afro-pop ballad, attempts to sway a lover, showcasing Bnxn’s versatility and loverboy tendencies lol.

‘Gwagwalada,’ featuring Kizz Daniel and Seyi Vibez, speaks for itself as a hit record. The album then surprises with ‘English and Pidgin,’ a Sarz-produced track that samples the vocals of Magic!’s lead singer, Nasri.

‘Regret’ features the album’s most exciting collaboration with 2Baba. Bnxn’s remorseful tone reflects on a failed love affair, while 2Baba expresses a desire for a fresh start.

Biblical allusions are scattered throughout, notably in ‘PRAY,’ which carries religious connotations. Bnxn invites listeners to see the divine in the machinery of his genius, infusing his secular experiences with a spiritual weight.

Like his previous EPs, this album carries a sense of nostalgia and introspection. Even the seemingly joyous ‘Party Don’t Stop’ contains a touch of this. Bnxn’s masterful use of metaphors, allusions, and creative influences breathes life into a range of emotions, from happiness to sorrow to hope.

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