Cue the trumpets! We finally got our hands on’em! Ykee Benda, Tugume Wyclif by birth, is a Ugandan male artiste aged 25. He is a multi-genre performer with a touch of finesse in pop, afro-pop, dancehall, RnB and even soul. Throw any genre at Ykee Benda and he will ride it like a horse on the tracks. Like earth quakes do, Ykee Benda came through in 2016 with his single Muna Kampala, topping charts and earning a spot in every smartphone holder’s music playlist. Earlier, Ykee had released “Budumbu” but sadly it didn’t get as much airplay. Mid 2016 saw the ecstatic release of “Farmer remix” with Sheebah Karungi. The success of this chune left Ugandans wanting even more from Ykee. He’s never stopped since. This fast rising vocalist was born and raised in the ghetto hoods of Kireka (makes sense why his debut album is called KIREKA BOUY). He attended Shimon Demonstration School for primary level, St Lawrence SS, Sonde for O’ and A’ level. He later travelled and graduated in Chemical Engineering from the Badji Mokhtar University (Annaba) in Algeria. This bwoy is a book and music worm!:By Ranell Dickson Nsereko
So ahha! First things ﬁ rst. How did you land on that World Cup deal? YKEE: [Laughs off like a showoff] LOL! Coca Cola, through their agency, wrote to me a proposal about taking part in a Coca Cola World Cup song. For sure, I just signed the papers without even reading coz I was super excited coz am going to be doing it alongside international artistes like Jason Derulo, Casper Nyovest, Diamond Platinums. Btw, let me let y’all in on a secret… only a fool would refuse to sign such a deal. They gave me the script to follow when composing my verse in the song and after I did, it was awesome.
QN: How has this affected your music and image now? YKEE: Ever since I got this endorsement, my name grew bigger across Africa. You now can’t call me to perform for 300K. I’m now a six ﬁ gure man. I also got an endorsement deal with Coke and connections to global artistes like Jason Derulo. I’m also reaching the world market too. I am receiving international bookings as we speak. My country’s ﬂ ag is also being mentioned in all these campaigns which is great.
QN: Every time we open a video on YouTube, all we see popping up is that “Colours” collabo with you and Jason Derulo. How does that make you feel? YKEE: The whole YouTube thing is very exciting. Just knowing that the whole world is watching and listening to your song with such a huge talent like Jason is really thrilling and humbling.
QN: Where do you think this collabo places you on the Ugandan music scene? YKEE: Very far ahead of many artistes. I feel like I jumped so far ahead of myself by 15 years. I don’t think I’m still the same artiste as I was before. Even the way I walk, talk and smile changed… haha!
QN: Lets tone it down a notch. Lets rewind and talk high school. What’s your high school story? YKEE: Wow! My high school was so amazing and troublesome to a greater extent. I wasn’t a serious student but was a bwat and a bully as small and short as I was. I was a big headed small cartoon who headed a gang and always got suspensions for abusing teachers and being naughty. By the way, most of my suspensions were coz of too much coupling you won’t believe. Not that I am proud of it. It was just a phase and I learnt heavily from my mistakes. The lessons made me the focused guy I am today. I was also a good footballer and never did I ever miss any danke at school.
QN: Eh… with all those suspensions, did you ever turn up for your prom? YKEE: Yeah! I did! I attended prom but mahn, I got so many girls asking me out and in order not to cause drama, I chose to be the MC at our prom. I totally failed to choose who would be my date. So I played my game right as MC and since I was always good at miming, it just worked out for me. Miming was one of the platforms I used to vibe girls. I swear… haha!
QN: Your high school life was indeed a movie. Back to your music. If your music was a dish, what would it be? YKEE: Deﬁ nitely a buffet. Coz you get to taste every bit of everything. It’s fun, enjoyable and danceable. In fact, I would equate it to a cocktail too.
QN: Yes, but cocktail isn’t a dish tho! Your voice, how would you describe it? YKEE: It’s vocally rich and it’s content fully baked coz I add catchy lines to it like you heard “Muna Kampala baby wansayalaza” and “gwe nimiro nze farmer”. The lines stick to your head and you ﬁ nd yourself singing even in your sleep. My voice is also romantically unique and authentic.
QN: Do you think that your latest songs have changed from your early songs? YKEE: Mos def! My ﬁ rst music wasn’t that vocally strong as compared to now. The maturity in content back then was also not that rich but now I also feel my worth when it comes to that. Back then, I used not to look at commercialisation (…as in what sales more) like now where I have to strategise and execute before I release a song.
QN: Looking at the lyrics you pen down, what is your main inspiration? YKEE: They are all about everyday stuff. Brave morals and common situations that happen in our everyday lives inspire me.
QN: I’m wondering. Besides our Kyandondo and Lugogo Cricket Oval, what is your dream venue to perform at and why? YKEE: That would be Royal Alberts Hall, London in the UK. It’s one of the biggest halls in the world and Wizkid ﬁlled it up. I also wish to one day pull such crowds at the same venue.
QN: What is your personal opinion of the current state of Uganda’s music industry? YKEE: It really sucks! There’s too much bad blood and hate. But on the other hand, there’s hope coz of the new music association. I am also personally excited about the fresh talent that is giving competition to the rest of Africa right from here, in UG.
QN: Which artiste do you want to work with in future? YKEE: It is Akon and Wizkid. These are very talented and amazing people in the game. I would add only the late Mowzey Radio because he inspired me a lot.
QN: Who is your hero? YKEE: My Dad will always be my hero. No replacement. No nothing.
QN: Any biggest achievements so far? YKEE: I’ve started my own recording studio, Mpaka Records studio which I’m currently working on to make it one of the best studios in East Africa and of course the Coca Cola World Cup endorsement deal.
QN: Worst moment in your career? YKEE: I went on stage and forgot to carry the microfone. I don’t even know what I was going to do there. It was embarrassing.
QN: Word out to the teens… YKEE: Love God and always believe you can make it. Books are good but talent with books is the best. Always believe in hard work and perseverance and you’ll reach greater heights