Ykee Benda is a multi talented fast rising artiste whose future is promising especially basing on the fact that he has been able to recently release successful songs like ‘Muna Kampala’ and the fans’ favourite ‘Famer’ remix alongside Dance-hall diva Sheebah Karungi.
Signed to Badi Music the young budding singer has become one of the most sought after talents in the music circles. Chano8 had a one on one interview with him at our head offices in Lower Kololo Terrace and below is how it went.
Chano8: Tell us about Ykee Benda
Ykee Benda is originally Tugume Wycliffe, A Munyarwanda Ugandan, he is 25years old, (smiles while touching his beard on the chin), “what else can I tell you”? He asks. I was born in a born again family, still I am, I do music Reggae, Dancehall, Afro Beat, Ragga, RnB but I don’t do Hip Hop, in fact I hate Hip Hop.
Chano8: When did you join the Music Industry?
I recorded my first song in 2010 at some small studio in Kireka called ‘Do It Again’, It’s on social media but it was a song I did with Alvin Keys when were still a duo in my S.6 Vacation, I stopped along the way when I got a Scholarship and went to Algeria for my University where I did four years in Chemical Engineering and came to Uganda last year and boom I started doing music straight away.
Chano8: Are you now a qualified chemical engineer?
Am a first class degree holder in Chemical engineering although I can’t practice per now because I have to get my music somewhere but there is prestige in that and I plan to go into my career because I don’t think I can sing forever.
Chano8: Resuming music in 2015 from Algeria, tell us how far you are now.
It’s been crazy, the ups and downs and brokenness have been there, the money has started to come here and there but at the end of the day I think God has been so good still. It all has happened to fast for a normal upcoming artiste. I just had favour because you go to studio with audio money but you are hoping for someone to appreciate your work and suddenly Badi Music is in love with Ykee Benda’s music, they sign you up, you work and before you know Sheebah’s management is liking your song so she reaches out to my manager and wants to do a remix of my song and it has changed my life already.
Chano8: Share with us some of the songs you released in 2015 after resuming music
I started music last year in September an I released a Dancehall/Ragga song called ‘Budumbwe’ produced by Andy Music and the video is out then I went to Nessim of Badi Music and released a song called ‘Kyenkyebula’ we haven’t shot the video yet then I did ‘Muna Kampala’ that is driving Kampala crazy and the original ‘Farmer’. All this was done by mid November because that was the only money I had saved for production. The money was now done I was hopeless but had good songs on me with nothing to do. All I did was try finding management and yeah these guys of Badi Music appreciated me and we signed a contract and I started working.
Chano8: So when were you officially signed to Badi Music?
I got signed to Badi Music in January 2016 so we started promoting ‘Farmer’ original, we shot the video then we promoted the audios slowly slowly and through this, Jeff Kiwa gets to hear the song and Sheebah comes on the remix.
Chano8: What is your say on the ‘Famer’ remix with Sheebah?
I wrote this song in my small room listening Timaya’s ‘I Like The Way’ and was like I need a song on such a beat so I tried to find out what to sing about. I think ‘Farmer’ is a happy song; people shouldn’t get too serious with the song because if you are going to be serious with it, you will hate Ykee Benda. It’s a song that will get people dancing and has many melodies on it and if you are a pastor you will not like the content.
Chano8: Do you think Sheebah really did justice to the ‘Farmer’ remix?
She is a massive artiste and it’s a big deal to have met her and she landed on a song that suits her so it was genius.
Chano8: What music genre are you tied to and where does ‘Farmer’ lie?
If was to be Ykee Benda, I would sing I Love You all day because am a soulful person but am in the business to make money so I had to reach out to other styles. Am not doing a specific genre but I make sure it’s a good song and ‘Farmer’ is a Dancehall -Afro Beat song.
Chano8: You said you are a born again Christian so how come you do secular music not gospel?
I do gospel music, it’s in there and the other thing, my understanding of the bible and Jesus Christ, for him it comes down to the heart and reason why Jesus came is to die for us sinners. So it’s like a person opening up a shop and sells his goods. Am selling products and this is my business. Every morning and night I pray to the same Christ and he provides the next day so I have no guilt whatsoever .
Chano8: Do you still see yourself as an upcoming artiste?
I will never tell you that am there, 5 years from now you will ask me again and I will tell you am not yet there. I don’t think learning ends. I want to learn music every other day. When you get many people together, they will not say am an upcoming artiste but am not yet there though I won’t call myself an upcoming artiste. My fan base has gown.
Chano8: Where do you see yourself years from now?
Five years from now somebody is going to come out and say Ykee Benda is one of the biggest artistes in Africa. Actually let’s make it 4 years because I said that statement last year. There is a lot to learn and pick from every artiste out there.
Chano8: Have you done any songs with other artistes apart from Sheebah?
I do have a song with a Kenyan artiste which actually came before ‘Farmer’ with Sheebah. They came to Uganda looking for the best producer and landed on Nessim. On landing on him, they found him working on my songs and the artiste got blown away and wanted to meet me. We got down to business, I wrote the whole song and she went to Kenya to shoot a video and I can tell now, it is the best video in East Africa.
Chano8: What do say on the Nigerian music eating up or seriously competing with the Ugandan music?
It’s beyond me but am part of what can be done, Nigerians have had crazy amount of investment in their music. Rich people have invested in those artistes. They look like they are owning the show but there are so many people behind and that’s what Uganda needs. There is only one country that probably sings better than Uganda and that is South Africa. Nigerians cannot march Ugandan music. Uganda needs investors.
Chano8: Many Ugandan artistes tend to sing with almost similar beats especially Dancehall artistes, what uniqueness does Ykee Benda’s songs have?
If you listen to my Dancehall songs like ‘Kikube Kiss’, ‘Eva’ , ‘Blessings’, my topics are not anyone has sang about. I try to make sure my topics are different. I can’t be a producer but what I can do is sing something different so that it can intrigue the producer to do something different but music is always going to be the same.
(Smiles) Starting out was really very hard to know who to trust because like I told you I was very lucky I have not faced rejection in my music, may be it’s God’s blessing. Then the media, these people always want money somehow but I understand it because they are sweating to get your song there but when am starting I don’t have that money. Lastly, unhealthy competition. You know we are all in this for money and greatness and I want to be that artiste who enjoys music in that if I want to do a song with Ziza Bafana, I need to call him when he is ok and happy but I think people are overly serious with this music and it’s f**king boring.
My biggest success has been ‘Farmer’ and then ‘Muna Kampala’ rising really fast, working with a Kenyan before I could break through in Uganda and working with Sheebah has been very influential in my music
Chano8: What do you do apart from music?
Apparently it’s just the music but I want to be an actual farmer not a figurative one but not yet. Then also owning a sports betting company, I think it interests me
Chano8: What do you need to be remembered for in Music?
I want to be remembered as an artiste that stood for music. What do I mean? The artiste that never was about who is the best. I can tell you that one day somebody is going to say am the best but that is not what am here for. Am here to make sure music grows and I enjoy it and find a really good upcoming artiste and am like come let’s do this song.
Chano8: Your last remarks for your fans
I literally want to go on my knees to thank the people that have pushed my music like Djs, Chano8 because you guys started with me way back before anyone knew me and then the TV and radio presenters and my fans that have been with me from ‘Budumbwe’ that has been good.