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A Pulse review of ‘Sincerely, BNXN’ by Nigerian musician BNXN

BNXN’s ability to mold melody is a most outstanding attribute and quite ironically, also his weakest trait. His unique vocal texture and R&B and pop-rap fusion have seen him become the music industry chorus master whose services are heavily in demand by colleagues for whom he has consistently delivered hit records. Curiously, BNXN has somehow failed to manage to recreate for himself the same brilliance he effortlessly delivers for others.

His earlier offerings displayed his R&B leanings through infectious melody and impressive penmanship which makes him something of a more sophisticated (Westernized) brand of Afrobeats artists. A quality that has aided his success at a time when the Western gaze is on Nigerian music.

The inability to score a convincing street popular hit of his own despite being the toast of the streaming demographic has been a subject of curiosity and even occasional derision.

A large part of this is owed to the monotony and one-dimensional nature of his music. BNXN seems capable of only delivering an R&B template flow that sees slight BPM adjustment as required. When paired with other artists as evidenced in the several hits he has assisted, BNXN’s technique adds compelling sonic aesthetics to the record. However, in his solo efforts, his style is painfully familiar and boringly predictable.

On his debut LP ‘Sincerely, Benson’, BNXN undergoes introspection in a display of impressive penmanship and smooth delivery that has earned him the respect of colleagues and the admiration of listeners, even as fails to break free of the one-dimensional style that makes for a predictable listen.

BNXN is an artist who draws from his vulnerability. His melodies and writings are crafted to convey emotions that connect with listeners. Ahead of his debut LP, BNXN stated that he intends to tell his truth, convey his state of mind on his feelings, and confront the subject matter he has previously elected to ignore.

‘Sincerely, BNXN’ is an album that thrives on BNXN’s POV on romantic and personal relationships, success, and even his flaws.

He opens the record with documentation of his journey to fame while insisting on living life on his terms. He throws jabs at detractors while emphasizing his moral superiority and finding solace in his success in what’s very on-brand for BNXN. He credits his success to a higher power in ‘Best of Me’ and talks up himself as he employs a familiar Pop rap style before partnering with UK rapper Headie One in ‘Maximum Damage’ to discuss his drive and its effect on the music industry. When the 3 opening records underscored by Garage type beats are taken together with ‘Mukulu’ (which is like a variant to ‘Kenkele’) the additions of strings give it some Highlife feel which BNXN emphasizes with his allusion to “Ragge Blues” and “Osadebe”, the album’s opening sequence makes for a very predictable and underwhelming experiences.

Things pick up with the Sarz-produced ‘Gwagwalada’ where Log drums and Lamba (Nigerian street slang) combine to deliver a successful record that rides a lot on Seyi Vibez’s brilliant verse. BNXN addresses his shortcomings in ‘English & Pidgin’ where he samples Magic!‘s ‘No Regrets’ and engages in introspection over a lost love. The vulnerable writing and melodies evoke the required sentiments for listeners to connect with the song and this is what makes it one of the standout tracks on the album.

He samples Wyclef Jean‘s ‘Sweetest Girl’ in ‘Sweet Tea’ where he wears his hearts on his sleeves and asks to be loved. For all that this song can be, the melodies and delivery make it just another variant of an old BXNX song.

BNXN and his protege Taves combine for ‘Realize’ whose thematic backdrop and composition come together to pass for something out of a High school Musical. BNXN’s Western influences continue to take center stage in the latter part of the album. He combines with Grammy-winning producer Leriq for the Dance record ‘Party Don’t Stop’ which could have used a feature from an European Dance artist.

BNXN infuses Dancehall bounce for the up-tempo record ‘Right Energy’ where his attempt to deliver a lambda-driven party starter is limited by his monotony. On the Tempo produced ‘Say My Name’ which is one of the standout songs on the album, BNXN’s monotony was uplifted by a stunning production.

While the production on ‘Regret’ featuring 2Baba is reminiscent of Timaya‘s ‘Cold Outside’, BNXN’s effort pales in comparison to his compelling contributions to the latter.

Introspection is the underlying theme for this album and it’s on this note that it peters out with the Popcaan-assisted ‘Final Answer’ where he restates his trust in God to continue guiding his way.

Overall, ‘Sincerely, BNXN’ is an introspective body of work that delivers impressive penmanship and smooth delivery that has earned BNXN the admiration of fans and the respect of his colleagues.

The album leans more towards the mid-tempo minimalistic style that straddles the Garage and R&B music BNXN favours while he still tries to incorporate Afrobeats elements through log drums and occasional infusion of Lamba. While many listeners might consider BNXN’s singular technique to have provided the backdrop for a sonically coherent album, this writer finds it to be one-dimensional and boringly predictable such that a listener can randomly select 5 tracks from the album and essentially experience the entire project.

On his own, BNXN’s style is a refurbishment of his other songs as he seems incapable of switching it up. Little wonder the best songs on the album are ones where he employs the assistance of other artists whether through collaborations like ‘Gwagwalada’ or the Sarz-produced ‘English & Pidgin’ where he sampled Magic!’s ‘No Regret’ and the Tempo’s brilliant production on the chest-thumping ‘Say My Name’.

BNXN has consistently shined as a featured artist mainly because these artists get to choose the beat and A&R him. Left alone, BNXN would always favour minimalistic productions that let his vocals do all the work and which don’t push him out of his comfort zone. This writer believes BNXN needs someone who can steer him out of the familiar territory that has made his music so predictable.

But even this predictability doesn’t take away from his obvious talent. It just doesn’t do justice to it.

Songwriting, Themes, and Delivery: 1.4/2

Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.4/2

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