Sorry I'm Late
Though his musical ability was a constant presence in his early years–from singing in school choirs and developing a teenage rap career under the moniker Drizzle, to writing songs while studying IT—the story of Nigerian Afro-fusion singer, songwriter and producer Buju is one of an artist gradually coming to terms with his own talent. “There was always something there—this talent that people described as beautiful, but I didn’t really understand what it was about, or how I could use it,” Buju (Daniel Benson) tells Apple Music. “So I had to explain the whole journey of me going from not making music, to making it, and building a following off of it. I had written out a poem, and had [the line] ‘Beauty Under Just Understood’. I tried to look up the acronym, B-U-J-U. I found that it means ‘breadfruits’; it’s also a nickname given to chubby kids.t the time I was also really hooked on [Jamaican artist] Buju Banton, who’s a legend. It relates to me as a nickname, and everything.”
Embracing his talents paid off. His early singles, like 2018’s “Catch a Vibe” and 2019’s “Energy”, grew his audience and led to appearances alongside heavy hitters like Zlatan (“Spiritual”), Wizkid (“Mood”), LADIPOE (“Feeling”), and 2021 collaborations with Blaqbonez and Amaarae (“Bling”), and Savage (“Confident”). After leaving an initial recording contract to go independent, Sorry I’m Late sees Buju fully unleash himself as a solo act.
“[This EP] is my personal apology, Buju explains. “I used to get a lot of messages asking ‘When are you dropping [your own material]?’ There was even a voice note from somebody demanding music. I’d never felt like that before. To see people react to the music like that, and the delay, I felt very obliged to say something about it. Sorry I'm Late could not be a better title.” Here, he breaks down the EP, track-by-track.
Daniel Benson “Daniel Benson is actually my name, and the song is literally describing me as a person and how I feel about my talent. I'm telling you straight, ‘My name is Daniel Benson/When I sing I'm going to make you dance like Michael Jackson.’ I felt like that was the first way to start it. It was produced by Steph and Timi Jay.”
Never Stopped “‘Never Stopped’ [explains] my everyday life and how I move past every obstacle that comes my way. There's a lot of challenges like artists face; there was a lot that happened in 2020 that could have made a lot of artists depressed. There were a lot of things that could have driven anybody insane—but we had to keep things together. ‘Never Stopped’ is that record where I'm telling you, ‘There's a lot that's happening, but that's not going to stop me’.”
Kilometer “‘Kilometer’ is that dance directive. We invite the Amapiano sound into that. Amapiano did a lot of madness last year, shout to South Africa Kilometer is that record where I'm trying to demand for my money from a show promoter, and I didn't know how to go about it. It's like, I'm telling you ‘When I'm [at] speed, I take it to the highest kilometer. I played your show; please pay me my money. Pease don't get me upset. Don't make me take it to the max. Give me my money.’ It's lovely melody to an amazing beat, produced by Rexxie.”
Something sweet “‘Something sweet’ Is that feel good record that makes you just be in the moment and just vibe through [it]. It’s that type of song where I'm demanding assurance from my lover or my love interest. I'm just trying to tell you, ‘If you're really for me, you should let me know. Put a claim on me if you really think I'm what you want.’ I'm trying to be vocal, for a lot of boys that don't know how to be vocal. They just want to be in the mood, they’re just going with the fun of it. It's just that level where you want to put it to them: ‘Tell me if you're with me’.”
Ogechukwu (feat. the Cavemen) “‘Ogechukwu’ means ‘God's timing’. I’m referring to the importance of time and patience when it comes to trying to achieve anything in life, generally. And why sometimes you need to take easy and let the universe and let God just take control in some sense. And it could actually [turn out] better than what you're probably seeing now. The collaboration was really dope because I was trying to create highlife–it’s from a different era entirely. The Cavemen make such amazing highlife music, whereby even the younger generation can relate to it. It's like bringing two generations together in one sound. We had such amazing chemistry together.The sounds are live, the drums, the guitars, everything live. It's real.”
For Here “This is also another feel-good record. Imagine a case where you try to talk to a girl, especially somewhere like here in Lagos, and you're trying to tell her, ‘This is what I can do for you’. And you're going to give her everything. And then she looks at you like, ‘From where? How? Are you playing with me? Are you teasing me?’ I was trying to paint that picture where I'm trying to talk to a girl and she's not paying me attention. It's very soft and romantic.
I Do “This is my personal inspiration record. I was watching a UFC main event fight between Francis Ngannou and Stipe Miocic. It was the second time they were meeting, because the first time Stipe won, and the odds were somewhat against Ngannou. They were probably thinking that the way he lost the last time would probably be the way he was going to lose this time—he’d get fatigued. But I was watching Ngannou's interview before the match. And he was talking about how he's evolved so much and he has so much to achieve, and he wanted to change the narrative [such that] the three major categories in the UFC would have Africans as champions. I felt the determination and I knew he was on to something, and I banked on him. And when he knocked out Miocic in the second round, I was so happy. I was in the studio watching the fight. My producer Steph was also working on a beat, and I just wanted to express how I was feeling. So I was trying to talk about, ‘You got to want it bad; if you want it bad, you can get it’. Do you want it? Do you really want it? You really always have to fight for it. Sometimes it just won't be given to you. You have to take it whenever you get the chance, to actually [win]. That's the ticket.”