Listen To Jeffrey Benson’s “Sorry Dad I Do Music Now”

Introducing Jeffrey Benson

If there’s anything 2020 taught us, it was that we all need the willpower and a good helping of ‘audacity’ to help pursue our wildest dreams. For most African children growing up in an African household meant that your career options were at the very least limited to the stuffy collared trifecta of a doctor, lawyer or an engineer.

By throwing their weight behind these limited career choices, well meaning parents echoed real sentiments about the status of less formal careers within contemporary African society. Stereotypical views of artisans/creative workers as slackers or addicts meant that creative careers historically failed to enjoy the stability or longevity of “formal” work environments. Alongside a lack of structural support from government agencies, insurance companies or banks, creative communities were rarely maintained or given the attention they deserved. James Barnor, one of the first people to shoot in color in Ghana is a prime example of how a lack of infrastructure and a lackluster approach to the arts by our society meant that it would take almost 40 years before he would be widely recognized for his important contributions to image-making.

Currently, however efforts are being made all around the continent by external and internal stakeholders, curators, A&Rs, music labels and streaming services to develop and mine creative careers in Africa. As bleak as the past was, the rapid increase of successful Africans in art, fashion, music and media has lead to more and more young African talents taking the steps to pursue their creative dreams unapologetically. These talents armed with a DIY mentality and sometimes nothing but organic support from their peers are creating high quality and relevant content for the masses demonstrating that despite a harsh environment, African creativity is difficult to stifle.

For creatives like Jeffrey Benson, resistance in all its forms is futile. In his formative years, the young artiste always dabbled in music. Even in the face of conflict and criticism from his dad after announcing his intention to pursue music full time, Benson stayed true to his path. The result? A self released punchy 7 track EP powerfully titled Sorry Dad, I Do Music Now.

Benson’s EP stands at a powerful intersection of relevance, evolution of identity and finally, self acceptance. Songs like ‘Away‘ and ‘Find Money‘ reflect the growing pains of any regular African youth trying to navigate love, financial independence and parental expectations. Melding a newfound love of Afro-fusion, Benson creates a melodious, varied body of work, as thought provoking as it is bright and infectious. Songs like ‘Modele‘ take a leaf from the jam inducing ingredients of hiplife music, featuring catchy crooning by Benson laid on a footwork inducing production that reminds one of wild Lagos club nights.

Overall, Sorry Dad I Do Music Now” is a refreshing and hope filled project that tells the story of resistance that many creatives are familiar with. For Benson, the project is a labor of love reflecting his world and journey as an independent artiste. Moved by both his story and music, iMullar caught up with the young talent on his motivations behind his EP and his journey into self belief.

M-What was Jeffrey Benson doing before he started to  pursue music? 

Well, to be honest, I have been pursuing music as early as age 15, when I wrote my first rap. I really thought I was going to be Nigeria’s version of Lil Wayne. I had to delete my freestyles off Facebook, it was embarrassing. But yeah, I love the journey still. Over the years I have been perfecting my craft, writing for people and now I’m doing my own thing.  

M-What was the tipping point for you? What made it clear that music is what you had to do?  

I’d say 2018, when I made the song “Music & Me.” I was in school pursuing my master’s degree while battling with the thought of being an artist. I always heard Fela say music was spiritual but I didn’t get it until that night; when I freestyled “Music & Me”. It felt like something came over me. Prior to recording, around like 2am I prayed that God take away the urge to do this music thing because I felt like it was a distraction, I couldn’t go a day without it even if I had pending school work. But that night He answered me, as I reluctantly played the beat, I poured my heart out on it. Every word in that song drives me till date.   

M-You made the jump from hip hop to Afro fusion do you see yourself going back any time soon? Or experimenting with different genres more?  

Yes of course. I got bars for days, so I’d definitely rap still. My foundation of music is Hip-hop, that’s why it’s important I infuse that in any project I work on. For example, the Outro on my EP – Crase World.  Also, diversity is something I pride myself on as an artist. I’m intentional with not making the same sound always. I’m constantly researching and experimenting with new genres. I have a lot in my system I can’t wait for the world to hear.  

M-Some of your fans (me included) have remarked that your music gives them an earlier burna vibe-How do you feel about people comparing you to him or other artistes? 

It’s crazy that you say that, because actually when I was transitioning from Hip-Hop to Afro-Fusion, I learnt how to sing from artist with similar voice textures as mine, such as Fela, Nate dogg, Burna Boy, Damian Marley, Blackmagic, Ajebutter22 and BOJ, to name a few. So the Burna boy influence is definitely there, and in my opinion that’s a great compliment. If you sound like Burna boy, I think that means you sound dope. 

However, I understand that no artist wants to live in comparison with another but I believe in time, with more songs I put out, people would eventually have more to say than that. 

M-What does a typical day look like for Jeffrey Benson the Musician?

My daily routine begins with my early morning meditation. Afterwards, I catch up on some news, while also researching on the music industry. I watch documentaries and performances, basically I’m always trying to learn by studying the game. Once I’m done with that it’s straight off to vibing to beats. I never force the vibe, if I’m not in the mood to record I just listen to classic songs from Fela, Labaja, down to, 2face, and the Mo’hits crew, to name a few. And if the vibe comes, best believe I’m leaving the studio that day with nothing less that 5 songs.  

M-What do you have to say to young creatives struggling with parental expectations and their dreams ?  

It’s your life not theirs. Kill fear before it kills your dreams. Fear projected on you by yourself, others or family. Always remember that you’d find the most potentials and talents at the graveyard. Unfortunately, most of them didn’t execute their ideas, and it’s too late for them to. But you have life, thus you have no excuse to deny the world of the genius ideas that God has deposited in you. Start from somewhere and don’t worry about it being the THING, if it’s not, it would lead to the THING eventually. Most importantly, learn to monetize your dreams. 

 M-What’s next for Jeffrey on this journey? 

 More projects and visuals! I really look forward to giving Nigerians and the world  something new and unique with my sound.  As an independent artist, I’m hoping to build an organic fan base over time. A strong one at-that, filled with people who believe in my sound and taking African music to greater heights.

M- What was the message you wanted to convey with “Sorry Dad I Do Music now”?  

Here I am taking a bold step and betting on myself, pursuing my dreams. You can do the same! 

Confident and determined to take all the necessary steps to achieve his destiny, a lot of us could learn from Jeffrey Benson. In the pursuit of our dreams and our happiness, fear is no longer an option. Self awareness and evolution become our best friends and the worst thing we can do is ignore our passions. Stories like Benson’s become familiar and personal to any young adult attempting to carve their own path and the good music that comes with it? is the gift that just keeps on giving.

Need some motivation to start pursuing those items on your 2021 vision board? Listen to Sorry Dad I Do Music Now.

 

The iMullar is the definitive voice of emerging African music and the lifestyle that surrounds it, showcasing exceptional talent from all around the globe focused on promoting the most distinctive new artists and original sounds, we are the authority on who is next.