Music
Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

B3nchMarQ and the Art of Making Something From Nothing

B3nchMarQ's EP consists of great songs that don't require much from the listener—but it bangs.

There's nothing groundbreaking about South African rap duo B3nchMarQ's debut release ASPEN EP. But one indisputable fact is that it bangs.


It hasn't been clear what the duo, which consists of rappers TKay and P. Jay, is capable of doing. The singles they released under the label they were previously signed to Ambitiouz Entertainment–"Bonang," "Get Lit," "All on Me" – were lukewarm.

I only found a reason to take the duo seriously when they released "Wayse" featuring Ice Prince. Like, how perfect is that song?

On ASPEN EP, the duo enlists the services of the young producer IceMan Beatz to create one of the strongest releases of 2017.

Even though there are a few clever lines on the project, lyrically, B3nchMarQ don't offer much to write home about. I mean how weak is a line like, "Coupla niggas like to gossip/ And now you hide your head, you like a foreskin"?

But what the duo and their producer got right was the project's overall feel and quality, song structure and memorable songs.

IceMan Beatz's production is near flawless–from the way the kicks and bass lines knock, to the crispness of the selection of the pads he uses, which switch between warm and smoky.

TKay and P. Jay got it right, with just enough singing to compliment their raps. Some of their meh lines are made up for by impressive delivery. P Jay switches flows where necessary. TKay sounds comfortable, and his vocal projection is pleasing to the ear.

And every now and then you bump onto double entedres like "Thol' ukuthi hey/ All this shit is just a phase."

ASPEN EP may not contain lyrical content on Shane Eagle, Reason or Stogie T levels, but it sure holds its own as a coherent body of work that wins in its synergetic combination of instrumentation and vocals. The subject matter revolves mostly around hustling, making dough, and making the best out of your situation in a way that's not preachy, but relatable.

What B3nchMarQ created are listenable songs that don't require much from the listener. Maybe just a realization that there is something to be celebrated in artists who can make the best out of their abilities and their limitations. And nothing sounds forced.

Spotlight
Photo by NurPhoto via Getty Images.

A Year After #EndSARS, Nigerian Youth Maintain That Nothing Has Changed

Despite the disbandment of the SARS units, young Nigerians are still being treated as criminals. We talk to several of them about their experiences since the #EndSARS protests.

On September 12th, Tobe, a 22-year-old student at the University of Nigeria's Enugu Campus was on his way to Shoprite to hang out with his friends when the tricycle he had boarded was stopped by policemen. At first, Tobe thought they were about to check the driver's documents, but he was wrong. "An officer told me to come down, he started searching me like I was a criminal and told me to pull down my trousers, I was so scared that my mind was racing in different ways, I wasn't wearing anything flashy nor did I have an iPhone or dreads — things they would use to describe me as a yahoo boy," he says.

They couldn't find anything on him and when he tried to defend himself, claiming he had rights, one of the police officers slapped him. "I fell to the ground sobbing but they dragged me by the waist and took me to their van where they collected everything including my phone and the 8,000 Naira I was with."

Luckily for Tobe, they let him go free after 2 hours. "They set me free because they caught another pack of boys who were in a Venza car, but they didn't give me my money completely, they gave me 2,000 Naira for my transport," he says.

It's no news that thousands of Nigerian youth have witnessed incidents like Tobe's — many more worse than his. It's this helpless and seemingly unsolvable situation which prompted the #EndSARS protests. Sparked after a viral video of a man who was shot just because he was driving an SUV and was mistaken as a yahoo boy, the #EndSARS protests saw millions of young Nigerians across several states of the country come out of their homes and march against a system has killed unfathomable numbers of people for invalid or plain stupid reasons. The protests started on October 6th, 2020 and came to a seize after a tragedy struck on October 20th of the same year.

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