Daniel Benson, known professionally as Bnxn and formerly known as Buju, is a Nigerian Afrobeats and Afro-fusion singer, songwriter, and record producer. Bnxn (pronounced as Benson) was born in Lagos but hails from Akwa Ibom state in Nigeria. He was previously signed to Burna Boy‘s Spaceship Records. He grew up in Gbagada with his family, relocating to Ogun State, a southwestern region in the country. Born on 14 May 1997, Bnxn turned 26 years old earlier this year.
In 2022, Buju officially changed his name to BNXN to avoid confusion for being mistaken for Buju Banton (a Jamaican reggae dancehall musician) and having more unique branding. His other aliases include; Bujutoyourears and Buju. In March 2022, he collaborated with Pheelz on the single “Finesse”; the song peaked at number 52 on the UK’s Official Singles Chart.
Bnxn released his debut EP Sorry I’m Late on 27 October 2021, under the management of T.Y.E/EMPIRE. It featured guest appearances from Nigerian Highlife music duo, The Cavemen, and production from Steph, Perlz, Denzl, Timi Jay, and Rexxie. Bnxn has subsequently released two other projects namely; ‘Bad Since ’97’ and the album in review, ‘Sincerely, Benson’.
In July 2022, he featured on the Jae5 song “Propeller” alongside British rapper Dave. The song became Bnxn’s first Top 40 single in the United Kingdom, entering the chart at number 38. On 4 September 2022, Bnxn won The Headies 2022 Next Rated award which was held on Sunday at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, Georgia, United States.
Benson released this 15-track album on the 5th of October 2023. The album is 44 (forty-four) minutes long. Diving straight into album review here is an excerpt from the man himself below.
Sincerely, Benson is Bnxn’s invitation to his audience to join him on the next part of his journey. Presenting a series of unvarnished realizations via elegant songwriting, this debut album offers us access to his innermost thoughts and feelings. ” I wanted to give people a very direct experience of my life since [his 2022 EP] Bad Since ’97,” Bnxn tells Apple Music. “I shaped this album as a letter, or envelope, of emotions. It’s very vulnerable because I felt a lot of things and put all that into the music. I want people to be involved in my life, in some sense.”
Inspired by interactions with his environment, fame, spirituality, and romance, Sincerely, Benson relays the result of Bnxn’s soul-searching, featuring shades of amapiano, gospel, dancehall, and indie mixed with his trademark Afro-fusion. “There are songs for solemnity, reflection, heartbreak, and acceptance,” he explains. “I wanted to make people happy at the same time, so it’s a feel-good experience.” Here, Bnxn (Daniel Benson) talks us through key tracks from his album.
“I feel this song is for artists themselves. There are some things that happen to us that people don’t really understand or don’t necessarily see. You just have to fight through it because it’s your life. It’s a very personal piece where I’m talking about the days when I don’t have anything, but I’m still me-still Daniel. You’re in this space where there’s so much attention and everything revolves around you. Some care enough to see our friendship as something we need to keep, and some see it as an opportunity to flex. These were the things I was trying to analyze. I needed to pen that down because I can’t imagine how many other people might feel like that.”
“Maximum Damage” (feat. Headie One)
“Maximum Damage” is me buttressing the point that there’s going to be an outburst of the sound very soon. It’ll be colossal and the entire world will be captured by it. It’s a prayer and a prophecy at the same time. It’s me telling myself and God that everything that’s great in this world is mine and it’s coming to me. That line ‘If they can’t have it, you can’t have it,” is me describing how hard it is to make it from where I’m coming. A lot of people envy you but don’t really understand the diligence and how much time you’ve spent on your particular craft. It’s us just wanting better for ourselves and always trying to evolve the sound in a way everybody can enjoy.”
Throughout the tracks, I’ve been very serious. ‘Mukulu’ was the breather to remind people I still have the groovy side of me. ‘Mukulu’ means ‘have fun’, enjoy yourself’ or ‘get loose’. Whatever’s worrying you at this moment, just let it go. Once in a while, we need to remind ourselves that we’re not going to die yet, it’s gonna get better.”
“GWAGWALADA” (with Kizz Daniel and Seyi Vibez)
“Amapiano came [from South Africa to Nigeria], reached a level, and has not left! It’s got to the point where we have revamped it. We’ve squeezed it and juiced so many things from it. Honestly, I can only say a big thank you—house music just gives you this bop. I still haven’t been to Gwagwalada but I’ve heard about it; it’s not the most popular place. I was trying to describe going from a place of high valuation to a low valuation. Places have a huge effect on the kind of sound I decide to make. You’re influenced by what you hear in the clubs, on the streets, or what you hear the next man singing. It’s why, whenever I travel, I like to take in the environment. There’s a whole lot you can learn when you just pause and take it in.”
“Pidgin & English”
“The sample on there is from MAGIC! [2016 single ‘No Regrets’] and when I heard it I was like, ‘This describes the relationship I was in so much.’ This is a very deep song and, as beautiful as it is, I don’t play it twice. It’s a very confessional piece, analyzing what happened on the night I cheated. I was in Stockholm and had a one-night stand that came back to bite me. It’s so vulnerable because, when you offer your apology and want someone to forgive you and see your remorse, you first have to accept what you did. This wasn’t supposed to be the way it played out and I’m admitting I messed up. This is the apology I couldn’t give in person.”
“Sweet Tea (Aduke)”
“You know what was crazy? Even when I was done with this track I didn’t hear the sample [of Wyclef Jean’s 2007 single ‘Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill)’], I was just infatuated by the flutes. I didn’t get it! One day, I was playing it for a friend and he said iy reminded him of a song. He started singing, ‘Some live for the bill’ and I was like whaaaat!’. I worked with the feeling it was giving me and still went ahead to call it ‘ Sweet Tea’. This is the soundtrack to a fantasy. It’s about longing for this girl and wishing she could wake up with this epiphany that she should be somewhere else–be yours.”
“Realize” (feat. taves)
“When taves sent me this–which he recorded in the kitchen by the way—I was like, ‘Bro, what are you on?’ He was describing how he had love at an early age and the love messed with him, then he found love again and he messed up this time. This song is so accountable and stresses the point of this project because it owns up to the fact that I could have been better.”
“Party Don’t Stop”
“‘Party Don’t Stop’ was recorded in 2020, the pandemic year. I was living with Burna [Boy], LeriQ, and some of the gang. That period was about mentorship for me because we were in the studio every day, working. This one night, I stumbled across Sam Smith’s ‘Money on My Mind’ and thought, ‘I need to make something like this’—this feel of rough, rave, and rage but still this calm. It gives you this sense that you’re in a movie. It’s like a circus; it’s slow then the next thing you’re running up and down and it stops again. It’s a roller coaster of emotions.”
I like to take you through a series of serious topics and then bring you back to what you’re used to in the Nigerian soundscape. This is a feel-good record birthed out of the need to not forget Nigeria—not forget where we’re from or the kind of music we enjoy here. We call it gbedu, and when it’s time to have fun that’s the energy I’m on.”
“On ‘PRAY’ I was reflecting on my journey and how far I’ve come. When you reflect on stuff like that, there’s also fear and doubt. ‘Could it get any better or what if I fall?’
That’s when I always have to remember there’s a higher power than myself. This song is asking God for guidance and assistance on this path I’ve chosen for myself.”
“Say My Name“
“In my primary school in Lagos, we used to have different chants similar to nursery rhymes like ‘Old MacDonald’. We had ‘My Name’, a game where the other kids would form a circle around you and you’d sing, ‘My name, my name, my name’. It was call and response and everyone would respond, ‘Pamuregeji, then say, ‘Show me your best friend’. You’d pick your friends, bring them into the circle and both of you would dance. This song is that idea—for the one you’re with to call on you anytime and you’ll pull up no matter the scenario.”
“Regret” (feat. 2Baba)
“Regret” is a companion piece to ‘Pidgin & English’. It’s self-reflective and the accountability is second to none. It’s all on me. I sent the legend 2Baba this song and he asked us to record it that same day! If you know his history, this is him setting everything straight. He told me what the song means to him and was thankful for this avenue to express things the way they are. He was the perfect fit.”
“Final Answer” (feat. Popcaan)
“This song reinforces what I want for myself and my future. I’m saying, categorically, that I know I’m doing this for a reason and it’s going to show forth soon enough. I need people to understand that, even before it starts happening. I just want to keep moving and growing. Nothing’s changed, everything has just evolved.”
Some music critics have described this project as monotonous and whatnot but what is constant is that it is an amazing body of work and in truth, this is exactly what every true music enthusiast expected from Bnxn. Bnxn is currently on his Sincerely, Benson America tour which has seen him perform in various American cities so far.
Akeosa’s rating of this album is 8/10. Listen to the album here.