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.

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Runtown. Photo courtesy of the artist.

How Runtown Got His Groove Back

In the past year, Runtown has had to look behind him to shed the ghosts of his former label. Now he's looking forward to more success.

In May of 2018 with two months left on his contract, the Nigerian popstar Runtown woke up one morning to news that his record label, Eric Many Entertainment, was suing him for damages worth N267 million. A potential local court injunction against him meant Runtown might face the possibility of being barred from making music until the suit was resolved. It was the the start in of a string of legal battles between the singer and his label that threatened his very existence as an artist.

As Runtown planned his next steps, his boss, Ukwudili Umenyiora was doing everything he could not to let him go. The suit was a ploy to get him to extend the contract, or reach a settlement that would allow the label to keep a stake in his future business. In the press, Runtown was lambasted daily by suspected paid agents of the record label.

After the record label tried to prevent a performance in Canada, and sent cease and desist letters to radio stations, asking them to pull Runtown off playlists, something cracked in his camp. His legal team mobilised. They launched an offensive, filing cases and petitions on many fronts across Lagos, Abuja and New York. His boss and aggressor, Okwudili Umenyiora, was arrested twice by the local police on petitions by Runtown. To stop the media harassment, Umenyiora signed a legal agreement promising to back off. With the coast clear, he could then focus on the music.

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Video still via YouTube.

'Ratnik' Is the Dystopian Nollywood Action Film You Didn't Know You Needed

Watch the dramatic teaser from Nigerian filmmaker Dimeji Ajibola.

A film 2 years in the making is yet another cinematic moment contributing to the growing diversity of subgenres in the Nollywood industry.

Ratnik is a dystopian action film from Nigerian filmmaker Dimeji Ajibola his production company Flipsyde Studios. The teaser recently dropped this month ahead of the official trailer—and from this 1-minute clip we're anticipating suspense, explosions, peculiar superhero characters and impressive vfx that we're seeing more of in Nigerian films.

Get into the teaser below.

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Music
Moonchild Sanelly. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Swiss Producer Dejot Enlists South African Leftfield Artists Moonchild Sanelly, Waterlillyrose, RADIO 123 and More in His New EP ‘Uhujano’

Listen to Dejot's latest EP.

Swiss electronic producer Dejot has a fondness for South African and its musicians. "What was really surprising to me was the fact, that when I played my music, my demos or ideas, people started to dance immediately," says Dejot in an email to OkayAfrica. "I was really surprised, that there was something in my music that hit them and made them move. This is very different compared to Europe or Switzerland, where people mostly stand around and just listen to it."

Last year, Dejot produced the rapper Robin Thirdfloor's EP Bhotela in its entirety. He has also worked with Bongeziwe Mabandla. This year, for his latest EP, Uhujano, he enlisted South Africa-based artists Moonchild Sanelly, Waterlillyrose, Robert Machiri and the duo RADIO 123.

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