Interview

Tresor Is Adding an African Touch to Global Pop's Soundscape

We talk to the South African-based superstar about his collaborations and songwriting for Drake—and setting the blueprint for future African stars.

No other South African-based pop artist has been as dominant as Tresor in recent years. When I last spoke with him two years ago, the three-time winner for Best Pop Album at the South African Music Awards (SAMA’s) was on the verge of putting out the Amapiano-influenced album Rumble In The Jungle, a 13-track collaboration with Scorpion Kings, the duo of DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small.

Since the release of Rumble in The Jungle in April 2021, Amapiano has congealed itself into the fibers of global acceptance; becoming the fire-starter at parties and a get-away riddim on vacations. Alongside the upsurge in love for the South African-originated genre, Tresor has become a sought-after vocalist and songwriter globally, working with names such as Drake, Metallica, and Tems. “I feel like I am more rooted in my purpose as an artist. I understand my place as an artist, which is always going to be pushing boundaries and the envelope for music globally and not just from the continent," Tresor says while decked in a cozy red sweater and fiddling with a guitar.

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Interview
Photo courtesy of the artist.

The Inimitable Flair of BNXN

We talk to the Afro-fusion star about his year of ascendance, legendary co-signs, and headline shows around the world.

“There is this pressure that comes with it. It's on a level of ‘How are you going to do better?’, ‘How are you going to beat these songs? 'Can you back up the same energy the following year?

BNXN (pronounced Benson) calmly highlights the weighty pressures of his phenomenal 2021 run of hits that have cemented his spot as one of the hottest artists in Africa.

The last time I spoke with BNXN he was known as Buju. We sat in a recording studio within Burna Boy’s exquisite home, with the conversation centered around a seven-month stoppage in music releases. Weeks after, Buju released "Outside," the first single under his imprint, To Your Ears Entertainment—parting ways with Burna Boy’s Spaceship Records.

The release of "Outside" commenced a streak of relentless hits for BNXN which included guest verses on songs such as Savage’s "Confident," Ladipoe’s "Feeling," Blaq Diamond’s "Italy" and Wizkid’s "Mood." BNXN’s 2021 crescendoed with performances during Wizkid’s sold-out three-day residency at London’s iconic O2, a Grammy nomination for his work in Made In Lagos, his seven-track debut EP, Sorry I’m Late, and headline shows in London and Lagos.

“Coming into 2022, the speculation was about what the run was going to be like this year. Who else are you trying to do it with? 'Finesse' happened and it was wild.” BNXN earmarks the impact of the Pheelz-owned record, released in March. “Finesse” became an earworm after individual videos of Pheelz and BNXN vibing to the record went viral on Tiktok. The BNXN-assisted song charted in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, France, and America, and was featured on Barack Obama’s coveted summer playlist.

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