‘Sincerely, Benson’ is Bnxn’s invitation to his audience to join him on the next part of his journey.
Presenting a series of unvarnished realisations 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 results 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 Apple Music 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 analyse. 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, 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 that 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 & 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 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.”
“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, analysing 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, want someone to forgive you and see your remorse, you firstly 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.”
“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 it reminded him of a song. He started singing, ‘Some live for the bill, some kill 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.”
“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’ 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 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.”
“In 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 friend, 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’ 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.”
‘Sincerely, Benson’ was released on October 5, 2023 and it’s available for streaming on Apple music.