It’s hard to believe that it’s already been two years since Bnxn (formerly known as Buju) landed the biggest moment of his career with a feature on Wizkid’s “Mood.” Bnxn wasn’t new to the spotlight at that point as two years prior, Burna Boy lent him a verse for a remix of his “Lenu” record. What “Mood,” and months later, “Finesse” with Pheelz brought Bnxn is a future at new heights and the chance to accomplish lifelong dreams in the music industry.
Bnxn recently released his third project Sincerely, Benson which, compared to his first projects Sorry I’m Late and Bad Since ‘97, feels like a more proper release thanks to its 15 songs. During an interview with Uproxx over a video call, Bnxn tells me that Sincerely, Benson feels like the transition from “small boy to teenager” and it’s the discovery that his music is “very, very expressive,” something he further expounds on with his new project.
Elsewhere in this interview, Bnxn spoke about the special cast of features on Sincerely, Benson, his spirituality, and how he makes sure to live in the moment – regardless of how successful he gets.
This album Sincerely, Benson is a letter to your fans and supporters. What is the message that you’re trying to deliver to them?
I used to be in a relationship and I got out of that relationship, or rather, I messed up that relationship by cheating. That’s one part of what inspired this album, the fact that I need to make an apology, but at the same time, I need to give it my all. I need to fully accept fault, I need to be as transparent as possible. That emotion created songs like “Pidgin and English,” “Regret, “Realize,” and “Toxic.” There are songs that describe me and the things that I go through personally — or artists go through personally — that people don’t get to see, even when they’re close to you. There are [other] songs for people to feel good to [and] to groove because I know how it is for me to share my emotion with you all, share my pain with you. But it’s like, every time you meet somebody you’re always telling them about the problem. It’s not a good look. So it’s like I’m here to also show you that in this same space of many things going on, I’m still happy. I still find time to enjoy myself. I still find time to appreciate the little things that matter
On “Maximum Damage” with Headie One you say, “I’m from a place where nobody makes it out without people thinking it’s magic / Cause if they can’t have it you can’t have it / You see that mentality just tragic.” How has that mentality made things harder for you and how have you made sure not to have that mentality yourself?
Sometimes you still get that weird feeling. I’m gonna be honest men, there are times at this level that you can look to the next man, or the next man looks at you like, “What are you doing differently that’s bringing you all this?” At that point, it’s a natural feeling. Envy is a natural feeling, but it’s like, you just got to snap out of it. The sun has its time to time, the moon has its time to shine. You can look at somebody from two angles: from the angle of envy or from the angle of inspiration. Like, “This is how this guy is moving. I like it. I’m going to amplify what to a level whereby it kind of feels like that.” That is motivation, that is literally somebody inspiring us to do something. It’s different when someone is doing it and you’re like, “Huh? Why is it him that is doing it?” or “Why is it them that doing it? I can do better than that.” Personally, I have once felt like that before, but it’s something that you have to outgrow. It’s something you have to snap out of because it’s a very terrible feeling. If you’re feeling like that, it kind of hinders a lot of blessings.
The guest features on this album mark the first time that you’ve worked with these artists. How did it turn out this way rather than it be with artists you’ve worked with before?
These features were selected because of the level at which I knew they could deliver and how the story of the song kind of affects them or what it means to them. You hear the songs and it’s not hard for you to interpret them. You can tell your life story or express yourself, I’m talking about artists that featured themselves.
For “Maximum Damage,” Headie hears the song and is like, “This is the song whereby I can literally show everybody that there’s been a whole lot of things going on.” That song helped Headie express that this is what I want for my life. 2Baba hears “Regret” and he sees this is a perfect opportunity for me to be able to express something solemn and express an apology that is sufficient and precise. With Popcaan, “Final Answer” is about literally nothing and can really stop what is about to come. The trajectory is miles up high and Popcaan understood that.
With songs like “Pray” on the album, your spirituality and religious outlook are clear. How has your faith, in whatever regard it plays out, helped you as an artist over the years?
All this and everything I have that’s good comes from God and he’s always guided my decisions. I’m not the most perfect person, but it’s like I always feel like there are certain things that would not happen naturally with my own power. There are times, even as I am, I still pause to pray for help, guidance, or assistance. That’s the reason I feel like I always have God. This industry is crazy, there are certain things in this industry that just be happening. My parents are very spiritual too, so I’m a very spiritual person. I just always know that there is good and evil and I have to pick a side. My music is personal and everything that happens to me I have to be able to express. I always have to direct some songs back to God and what he’s done for me. On the last project, there was “Modupe,” and on this project, there’s “Pray” and “Final Answer.” Spirituality is just something I hold very dearly [to myself].
How did this collaboration on “Regret” come to life and what was your reaction when it finally happened?
“Who could bring the difference to the song?” My friend said 2Baba on this song and whenever I heard the song I couldn’t stop hearing 2Baba on the record, so I just had to reach out. I reached out to Larry Gaaga and I sent it to Larry and Larry sent it to 2Baba. It’s hard to imagine a song like that having 2Baba be that transparent and open. I was happy he let that happen. Some stories are very personal to people. So whenever they share it or express it, it’s very nice. Especially if you’re not really an expressive person, it’s very hard to do. It’s such a special record, it’s why I left only he could’ve done that to that level — a level whereby I can feel it.
What is your favorite memory in the process of creating this album Sincerely, Benson?
I don’t know, *laughs* it’s from even getting a name for the project. I was in the club with Burna [Boy], and he’s like, “I need you to have your name or your album. Your album has to have your name there.” It’s like wow, okay I’ll take that. It’s crazy that after having that conversation months later, he dropped Love, Damini. So many things were going on man. With this project, one minute there’s nothing going on, the next thing I’m in the studio I’m just recording something. N****s telling me to try shrooms for the first time. I didn’t try it, but after that conversation, I go in there and I record “My Life” and some many [other] beautiful records. I don’t know, there are too many memories. Traveling, the producers, the sessions — they were always so warm and very sweet. I just really had fun making this project.
With all of the success you’re having in your career, what are some things you do to make sure you live in the moment and don’t time and things altogether pass you by quickly?
I like to take time to reflect. It’s where a lot of my songs come from. I take a lot of time to analyze everything so I can know how this thing works. After this phase of the album, I intend to get into a phase where I “just play.” What I mean by play is holding back a little seriousness from the music just to see what the dynamic is. Mainly because what I do is afro-fusion and I feel like it’s a fusion of everything. I need to be able to give you Gbedu (groove), play around with it, and have fun. I feel like that’s the next stage I’m about to move to.
Sincerely, Benson is out now via TYE and EMPIRE. Find out more information here.