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ALBUM REVIEW: Sorry I’m Late EP by Buju

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As a boy born and raised in Lagos, Gbagada precisely, Buju, originally from Akwa Ibom, later moved to Mowe, a part of Ogun State where he lost his mother to cancer.

His love for Music started in Secondary School when he discovered songwriting. According to a report on Legit, he adopted the stage name Drizzle at that period of his life. The name would later metamorphose into Buju (To Your Ears) or Buju, a name inspired by a Jamaican singer known as Buju Banton.

The 23 years old grew up listening to the 47 years old Buju Banton, Burna Boy, Damian Marley etc. Originally, he started as a rapper but became a skilled singer when he joined the choir. Though he hails from Akwa Ibom, in spite of that, he understands Yoruba because his mother used to communicate with him in the language.

After giving up a job he got during his time at the University, Buju, finally decided to chase music as a career in February 2018 when he released a single titled Catch A Vibe which was followed by another single titled A Day in Lagos. Citing Burna Boy, Buju avers that his genre of music is Afro-fusion. Buju was supposed to release a debut extended playlist titled Buju To Your Ears in 2019, but he did not.

Buju came into limelight after posting and requesting that his social media audience help him tag Zlatan so the latter could see the video of a recording session the former uploaded. The message got to Zlatan and he, with Buju, worked on a single titled Spiritual immediately. Surprisingly, on April 16, 2020, Burna Boy announced the signing of Buju to the Spaceship Collection, a label owned by Bose Ogulu, Burna Boy’s mother, which Burna Boy, Nissi Ogulu (his sister), music producers LeriQ and Telz (Spaceship Rocket Boys) were also part of.

Spaceship Collection
Spaceship Collection: Buju, Telz, Bose Ogulu (Burna Boy’s mother), Burna Boy, LeriQ, Nissi Ogulu (Burna Boy’s sister) and others.

It is important to note the difference between Spaceship Collection, Spaceship Publishing and Spaceship Entertainment (Burna Boy owned label). The three are a group of companies and Burna Boy reportedly has a bigger share of it. Buju was the third signing of the label immediately after Burna Boy himself and Nissi Ogulu, his sister. Buju was uncovered, featuring his label executive, Burna Boy, with a remix of his previously released single, Lenu.

Lenu did well in Nigeria, and since then, Buju has released different singles titled So Lovely, Outside, Testimony, Peru (cover) etc. However, one may think Buju’s Outside was inspired by Outside, a track on the Outside album Burna Boy dropped in 2018 immediately after his court charges involving Mr 2Kay were dismissed. Whether or not Buju’s Outside was inspired by Burna’s Outside, there is no tangible proofs.

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Daniel Benson (Buju)/source: IG

Also, Buju has flourished on several collaborations. Some of these came from Ladipoe, Wizkid, Timaya, Zlatan, Dr Dolor etc, in 2021. The most notable collaborative work he has had so far in his career is with Ladipoe on the song Feeling. It has earned him enough attention as well as the belief that he is one of the best takers of chorus in Nigeria.

Buju who has prickled the curiosity of his fans for long released his debut EP on 29th October, 2021. The long awaited project is titled Sorry I’m Late. Of course, Buju has to be apologetic with his project title because he has kept his listeners waiting as far as 2019 when he promised to release To Your Ears, which was supposed to be his debut album at the time. Sorry I’m Late consists of 7 tracks. The first two were produced by Timi Jay, the third by Rexxie, the fourth by Denzl, the fifth and seventh by Steph and the sixth by Perlz.

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Sorry I’m Late EP by Buju

Daniel Benson, the first track, an introductory track, is also Buju’s real name. With beautiful rhymes and Afrobeats delivery on modern Highlife instrumentals, Buju introduces himself to listeners, citing his likes, dislikes, philosophy and strengths. He is that kind of singer that makes you dance like “Michael Jackson”. Buju gets a bit of overconfident here, but, so far, isn’t his “rhythm” and “sound on fire” truly?

Never Stopped brews motivation, contempt (for the enemies) and self appreciation. Though motivational for the listener, Buju uses this particular Afrobeats song to pass a very strong message to the enemies. Here is not the point where he would stop. The delivery is perfect! Buttresing his point, Buju gets confident again. This time, with much self esteem as he compares himself to a combination of 2Baba, Burna Boy (his role model), Khalid and Frank Ocean. A soul-lifting tune with thought-provoking rhetorical questions, not without a digressive acknowledgement of a lover i.e “Ayanfe mi”.

For the first time since Amapiano took Nigeria by storm in 2020, Buju registers his entry on the contagious sound with the third track, Kilometer. Kilometer is on the EP to facilitate dance, even if Buju is on the instrumentals to register in the mind of his fans what he embodies. Buju’s fluency of Yoruba is put to test here as the singer quotes a popular Yoruba eulogy thus, “iná n jó, ògiri ò sá” (fire is burning, the wall is not running). Again, Buju’s expertise at taking the hook is layed bare for all to hear.

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Something Sweet puts the listener on a balladic Afrobeats piece. Buju directly calls the attention of his intended to the fact that she has to “put a claim on me”. Sade needs to pick a stance. Buju is not ready to run after a lover whose love is elsewhere. Buju simply needs assurance, hence the mainspring for his rhetorical question “shey you cover me?”

The only collaboration on Sorry I’m Late appears on Ogechukwu with the Highlife duo from Eastern Nigeria known as The Cavemen. Ogechukwu is an Igbo phrase that means “God’s time” and on this track, Buju retells the usual “it is God’s doings” story many Nigerians tell each time they are asked how they become successful in something. With traditional drums merged with guitar tunes, Buju and The Cavemen combine well for a melodic Highlife piece. One is particularly surprised at the fact that Buju is versatile enough to flourish on a pure Highlife song.

Arguably, Buju becomes overly romantic for the first time in his career on For Here. Buju rarely does love ballads, yet we’ve got an infectious love piece here. That track six brings romance to the table is beautiful. It is even more beautiful that the image of romance is painted with poetry-like rhymes and beautiful lyrics pasted with soothing vocals on a beat that combines Afrobeats with Reggae-Dancehall. Even if this lover “fejó pamí” (kills me with talks), Buju does not care. After all, she is “obinrin meta” (a daredevilish woman).

I Do is packed with so much to reflect on or talk about, it is meditative. No wonder Buju’s A & R slots it at the base of the EP. On this Hip Hop song, Buju talks about desperation, survival of the fittest (something evident in every aspect of life), depression, struggles, dreams and other topics delicate enough to make a dream-chaser sober. A little motivational lines from a rapper would have been a sweet icing on the cake. Nonetheless, that’s the only thing lacking!

Sorry Im Late Tracklist
The tracklist of Sorry I’m Late EP by Buju

Buju’s voice is at rest mainly because of the sober theme of the song. One may even mistake Buju’s voice for a stranger’s at first. We’ve never heard him sound this way before. Take away the theme of this song, and one is still left with versatility on the part of Buju. This reminds every fan that even if it’s not Afrobeats, Buju can still survive on some other mainstream genres of music. No wonder he is so overconfident on the first three tracks of this extended playlist.

Sorry I’m Late reflects the versatility and hardwork of Buju. The extended playlist can be likened to a garden of different types of flowers; Sorry I’m Late is characterized by good lyrics, energy or vibe, good delivery, therapeutic vocals, dance, rhythmic rhymes etc. Thus, Buju is nothing short of being competent!

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