BNXN arrives with his sophomore EP, Bad Since ‘97. Earlier this month, he teased a peek into the EP on social media by announcing producers such as Denzel, Sak Pase, and Ts Boy that worked with him on the project. The EP is a long-awaited one as fans had been gearing up to fully dive into an expansive project by BNXN after having their thirst furiously spiked with singles and features. He is assisted by seasoned acts in the game such as Wizkid, Wande Coal, and Olamide. From his debut EP, Sorry I’m Late, to this recent work, BNXN has been persistent in demonstrating his ability to blend with different sounds while composing fresher ones. His work as a relatively new artist is vast and his skills impressive.
Speaking with Apple Africa Now Radio, BNXN affirms that his sophomore project is different from his debut. In his words, “Why I called this thing a project and not just an EP is because I took a lot of time and it involved a lot more hands than normal. Usually people only get the best of everybody when it’s time to do an album, but this time I wanted to get the best out of an EP because I personally wasn’t satisfied with the sound – not necessarily the music, but the quality of the sound – from my last project, and I felt it was my obligation to step it up a notch”. True to his claim, Bad Since ‘97 delineates copacetic sound engineering and tuneful melodies that buttress the catchy and relatable lyrics contained within the seven tracks that the work spans across.
From the first song, which is the titular track of the EP, “Bad Since ‘97”, BNXN sings, “Man, I’ve been bad since ’97, I never cared ’bout the devil / Since ’17, I’ve been smoking hot like a kettle” to inform that he has been in the music scene for a while and he’s no greenhorn, describing himself as a musical genius. The delivery on the song is sturdy, with the lyrical structure and sound, and tender. But, in “Bad Man Wicked”, the tempo is more upbeat and it takes on a braggadocio that correlates with the lyrics where BNXN asserts, “‘Cause I dey swing like Muhammad Ali”. He is unapologetic about his stance as one of the main heads of Afropop, urging listeners to “tell somebody, recommend my shit”.
“Many Ways” is the third song on the project and it features Big Wiz. It is a slow-slinkering song that carries special percussive rhythms with the drums and harmonies. Those are what make the song unique. Apart from this, the song is tethered to a repetitive quality that makes it an almost-good song, steadily jogging its way to that peak quality but never quite reaching it. We’re revisited with a familiar tune in the form of the fourth track, “Kenkele” featuring Wande Coal, earlier released in July. Chalking up over a million streams on Spotify, the song is already a favourite. Wande Coal racks up the quality of the song even more by blessing the track with his skilful melodies. By now, the gentle Afropop vibe is pervasive and rolls onto “In My Mind” where BNXN explores the world of toxic love, heartbreak, and betrayals. He initially released this song via his appearance on the COLORS show, but it still holds its place firmly on the project.
Olamide continues to reaffirm his position as an Afropop street-pop legend and right from the beginning of “Modupe”, the penultimate song on the project, he shines. The song is a sober reflection of gratitude (which the title hints at) to God. BNXN, with all his confidence and self-assurance, reverts to God to pay his respects. He implies that though he is an exceptional artist within his own right, all thanks to God still. Olamide joins him in this veneration and they both flow with a synergy that is made smoother with their respective fluency of the Yoruba language. Nevertheless, BNXN concludes with “Loose Emotions” and it’s tinged with a neo-soul atmosphere where he says goodbye to a failed relationship, but recommends how to “lose emotions”. He sings, “I have to say I’ve opened to someone else but you / But here’s how you lose emotion, something you should know”.
Overall, Bad Since ’97 is a coherent body of work with commendable appearances from veterans in the music industry to give it a classic experience. BNXN is a remarkable talent that proves, time-and-time again, that he is really competent at creating outstanding work.