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Bnxn and Ruger Call For Truce With the Rhythm and Blues -Driven “RnB” EP

Bnxn and Ruger Call For Truce With the Rhythm and Blues -Driven “RnB” EP

“RnB provides a thoroughly enjoyable listen overall: a collection of feel-good, sybaritic love songs with melodies that enrapture the ears.”

By Abioye Damilare Samson

Collaborations between artistes on tracks are commonplace in the Nigerian music scene, but what’s less frequent are joint projects like EPs or albums. However, Bnxn and Ruger, two sublimely talented stars in the Afro-pop scene, shockingly defied this trend.  After their heated rivalry and Twitter feud in August 2022, they bury the hatchet and team up for a new EP, RnB,  a title that might initially suggest “Rhythm and Blues” but stands for “Ruger and Bnxn”. The release of RnB not only presents a one-of-a-kind moment where two of the leading new-generation Afro-pop singers explore new ways to alchemise their gifts, but it also brings to mind the similarities and differences in their trajectories. 

Ruger and Bnxn both rose to prominence around 2021. While the former made his mark with the hit record, “Bounce“,  a blend of smooth R&B and emphatic dancehall elements that propelled him to the top table of Afropop, the latter cemented his artistry by scoring one of the most ubiquitous anthems with the Andre Vibez-produced “Feeling”, his collaboration with the rapper, Ladipoe, the self-appointed Leader of the Revival, which went on to bag Headies Best Rap Single award in 2022. 

Following Ruger’s departure from Jonzing World — the music label spearheaded by D’Prince —  in February, he founded his record label Blown Boy Ent.  Coinciding with the launch of his label, Ruger joined forces with Bnxn to drop a mid-tempo Afro-pop track titled “Romeo Must Die”. Despite initial expectations of a reconciliatory theme, the song explores themes of personal growth and facing challenges. The line, “Me and Buju, we go worry dem this year”, off the song hinted at the more exciting collaborations on the horizon. As anticipated, April brought the release of their second collaboration, the compelling “POE laced with breezy instrumentals and an unbeatable mix of addictive lyrics: the perfect representation of Yin and Yang operating in culminating harmony. But the surprises didn’t end there as just a week later, they unveiled  RnB.

With the production majorly helmed by Blaisebeatz and Kukbeatz — producers who have individually worked with the artistes numerous times — the template, for Ruger characterised by Caribbean dancehall vibes, and Bnxn’s blend of rhythm and blues, remains largely the same, but the scale of ambition rates high on melody and chemistry, with the two artistes dovetailing to provide maximum enjoyment.

The EP kicks off with the R&B-inspired lush ditty “Bae Bae”, aided in by an Asian bamboo flute that sets the stage for Ruger’s smooth crooning over gentle guitar strumming and mid-tempo drums. His swashbuckling persona shines as he sings, “Wetin be your P tonight? I dey Yankee tonight, Make I play with your p tonight” with Bnxn leading the chorus with his honeyed calm vocals to express his longing for the lady in the song.

Ruger and Bnxn RnB review | Afrocritik
Bnxn and Ruger

On the previously released track, “POE”, the bouncy Amapiano tune enlivened by the catchy hook, instrumentation, and the rimshot snare drums that swing along with the log drums boasts great production, a unique sound, and vibe, with playful yet catchy lyrics as both artistes express their deepest horniest desires to woo a lady.

In “Calculate Love”, both artistes dip into the same Afro-pop flavour they perfected on “Bae Bae” and complete it with strings and a warm groove to craft hypnotic melodies that explore the theme of questioning the possibility of quantifying love. Towards the end of the song, Ruger poses a thought-provoking question: “Can you calculate love?”, an inquiry into the idea of measuring such complex feeling, to which he answers himself in a resolute “Calculate love, never,” while Bnxn questions the authenticity of the love.

Ruger and Bnxn RnB review | Afrocritik
RnB tracklist

The Sarz-produced, “Ilashe” is a conversation-starting song, with a jarring theme built on a shared zest for life between both artistes neatly tucked with obscenity and hedonism. The title pays homage to Ilashe, one of the most renowned luxurious beach resorts in Lagos, Nigeria,  ideal for a weekend getaway. “Swear that you don’t know what we are doing here, Abi no be free boat wey you use reach here?”, Ruger sings. The duo explores the theme of transactional relationships, that is, taking a lady out to a place like Ilashe, which, according to them, is about enjoying the voluptuary pleasures that come with it. 

Party Monster” opens with an expertly laid out fast-paced percussive version of Sade Adu’s 1985 release, “Sweetest Taboo”. The atmosphere of the song is celebratory and zestful, with the duo in a feel-good mood to party and have fun. RnB ends with the slow but memorable reggae-fusion jam, “Not Done”, which showcases Ruger’s signature style of Caribbean rhythms. It’s a record about sex, delivered via sunny, tropical Caribbean production and melodies that cloak it in the guise of a deep love song. 

RnB provides a thoroughly enjoyable listen overall; a collection of feel-good, sybaritic love songs with melodies that enrapture the ears. The track-by-track arrangement and production are indicative of dedication during its curation. However, fans hoping for glimpses into Ruger and Bnxn’s reconciliation will be disappointed. The songs on RnB are sharply written — occasionally tender, balancing seriousness with moments of levity and playfulness — blending pseudo-romantic musings with party-starting vibes. 

While it can be said that this collaboration is the beginning of a blossoming relationship between Ruger and Bnxn, the key question lingers: can this project motivate other feuding artistes to set aside their differences, come together, and create something as profound as RnB? The potential for artistic collaboration seems ripe, awaiting only the courage to pluck it off. 

Lyricism – 1.0

See Also
Afrocritik’s 2023 Top 25 African Music Projects (1)

Tracklisting – 2.0

Sound Engineering – 1.5

Vocalisation – 1.0

Listening Experience – 1.5

Rating – 7/10

Abioye Damilare is a music journalist and culture writer focused on the African entertainment Industry. Reading new publications and listening to music are two of his favourite pastimes when he is not writing. Connect with him on Twitter and IG: @Dreyschronicle.

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