Journalist, Joey Akan links up with BNXN (formerly known as Buju) on the latest episode of his Afrobeats Intelligence Podcast. Afrobeats Intelligence Podcast is a podcast spin-off of Akan’s popular music newsletter, Afrobeats Intelligence. Hosted by Akan, the podcast is focused on African music and the sprawling ecosystem that inspires and supports creativity from all across Africa while exploring the intersection of art, humanity, and processes that give birth to African sonic excellence.
Since its launch in March, the podcast has featured extensive interviews with artists and creators such as JAE5, Asa, Omah Lay, TG Omori, Falz, Victony, Chike, and Zlatan. The podcast prides itself on democratizing the core of African music by digging into the past, the present, and the future. On the podcast’s latest episode and season premiere, Joey Akan sits down with the Bad Since ‘97 crooner to discuss his journey within the music industry and dive deep into the nuances of the growth of his career.
The episode kicks off with a gentle nudge at the early days of BNXN, his move from Gbagada to Mowe, and how that affected him personally. Joey maintains the flow of the story, as he further inquires about how BNXN managed to navigate the move and cope with the transition to a more rural environment. BNXN talks about missing the freedom and anonymity he had before stardom and how he now has to be extra careful with the things he says to avoid them getting “blown out of proportion.” He delves into some controversial waters and explains why he made some of the infamous tweets he made some years ago. “I’m in SS3 or going to 100 level. I’m young. I have cheap data. I need attention. I’m looking for a rush,” he says.
He talks about dropping rap due to the number of people he saw doing it and how much their artistry was better than his. He says he wanted to create a niche for himself rather than join in the battlefield that is the rap scene. He recounts his time in the university when he listened to Odunsi, Santi, Lady Donli, Fasina, Amaarea, and others on SoundCloud and how intriguing their sound was. He recalls being fascinated by the communities they were able to build at the time.
On how he improves his pen game and overall delivery, BNXN says “I was writing like 6 to 7 bars every day.” He explains how he was hopping on various beats not because he intended to put them out, but simply because that was a way of practicing and testing his abilities. He fills us in on how he thought about features after featuring Burna Boy and Zlatan. “It’s like you’ve done Zlatan. You’ve Burna. Are you really going to start jumping on other people’s songs?”
On his contract with Burna Boy’s Spaceship Entertainment, BNXN talks about how he never considered renewing the 1-year deal. He says he would have never signed with a label and the major reason he inked the deal was because of his respect and admiration for Burna Boy. He says the record deal was an opportunity to learn about the industry’s intricacies from a legend like Burna. “The notion to be independent was very key till I met Burna. That was the only person I could ever pen down for,” he says. He continues to say, “The whole time Burna was making the Grammy-winning album, Twice As Tall, I was there.”
On leaving Burna’s Spaceship Entertainment, he says he always heard about how artists go independent and things don’t work out but was confident because he had paid his dues and had the blessings of the people that mattered. He goes on to talk about how collaborating on records like Bling & Feeling was instrumental to his come-up. He talks about how changing his name was primarily an internal decision coming from a place of authenticity before it was an external one. He also gives Pheelz his flowers when he says, “I don’t want people to tie his success or how good he is to just the success of Finesse.”
Throughout the rest of the Afrobeats Intelligence Podcast interview, BNXN spotlights his pragmatism. He reveals that his 5th most streamed record on Apple Music is Never Stopped and he says that it had such great penetration because “it was real.” He explains that he made Never Stopped because he saw the impact Outside had. He also reveals that Never Stopped was inspired by Nigerian YouTuber Korty EO. He also talks about his relationship with Wizkid and working with him on the Grammy-nominated album Made In Lagos Deluxe. He goes on to shed some light on his foray into the crypto, NFTs, and metaverse ecosystem and a possible collaboration with Meta. As the interview nears its end, BNXN says “there’s a lot of things that were thrown at me that if they were thrown at anyone else, they would have broken. I want people to see me as that overcoming factor.”
Listen to the full 2-hour conversation between Joey Akan and BNXN on the season premiere of the Afrobeats Intelligence Podcast below: