Born June 6 1997, Richie Chinedu Benson Nwobum is better known by the stage name Richie Benson is a Nigerian singer, rapper, songwriter, and producer. Richie Benson was born in Kaduna State, Nigeria and raised in the northern part of the country.
With just one single released so far under his independent label “Island Boy“, Richie Benson has already graced some of the biggest stages, in front of thousands of people, opening for Africa’s biggest names like Yemi Alade, Davido and Wizkid. He also has performed at highly acclaimed events like the AFRIMMA Awards 2017. With what looks like a very promising career ahead of him, Richie Benson is definitely one to watch.
Check out my exclusive interview with Richie below:
Hey Richie Benson! Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello world, my name is Richie Benson the one and only Island Boy. 20 year old singer, rapper, songwriter and mix engineer based in Dallas Texas from Nigeria.
Talk me through an average day in the life of you?
Wake up, pray, smoke a blunt and then I decide what goes on for me that day. I don’t make plans anymore, because I hate how I feel when my plans fall through. So I just go with whatever I’m feeling, whenever I am feeling it. That’s how I’ve made it this far. I love to hang out a lot, so an average day would be me out experiencing new things, making new connections or new music.
What institution(s) did you attend and what did you study?
I attended British Nigerian Academy in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, Abuja for high school before moving to the United States to study Information Systems at the University of Texas, at Arlington.
Why the interest in music and how will you describe your type of music?
My first real interest in music started when I was 15 back in 2012. I had a friend who was already making music at the same age, and it was just inspiring all the attention he got and how everyone was singing his songs. Everyone already knew I had a nice voice because I sang a lot. I just needed a genuine interest which I finally developed to begin a career, and then that same friend helped me unleash the beast. We started writing songs together before I decided to record my first ever song during the summer of the same year and the response was unreal.
How did you come up with the name “Richie Benson”?
‘Richie Benson’ is actually my real name. That is my first and last name. My full name is Richie Chinedu Benson Nwobum.
You signed to Island Boy Records, tell us how you got signed to the label?
‘Island Boy’ is an independent label I and my close friend and manager Arnold Tientcheu started together in May 2017. He met me at a mutual friend’s home studio and we have been working together ever since.
You performed at the recently held AFRIMMA Awards. What was the experience like performing at such a big stage?
Honestly, it was an honor to perform at such a huge event in front of a lot of bigger artists that have accomplished so much. The experience was overwhelming because of the stature of the event. I have performed in front of a lot of people but this was the first time I performed in front of a lot of huge and very important music heads that could change my career forever. I am happy to have done my thing and very happy to have gotten real recognition from some of the music heads like DJ Poison Ivy of the Dallas Mavs and DJ Tunez of Starboy.
You have also opened for some of Africa’s biggest names like Yemi Alade, Davido and Wizkid, how did that make you feel?
Important and hopeful. I dropped my first single ‘Stay’ and immediately after, I already started performing it in front of thousands of people. I debuted the song at a show with Fatmankey of A$AP Mob and Rico Nasty! The next weekend I was opening for Yemi Alade. The following weekend, I opened for Davido and then the weekend after, Wizkid. The first month was so unreal. The reception I got from all those shows really gave me hope that I could be problem I want to be in this industry.
Do you feel the industry is doing alot to encourage upcoming acts?
Yes of course. There are so many platforms an artist can use to break out now and we all know how the top labels work nowadays. You have to create your own buzz before they amplify it, giving you contracts with a lot of money and making career changing deals for you, which in my opinion is really fair. That is very encouraging, knowing all I have to do is work hard and smart at first as an upcoming act, securing a very huge, strong and loyal fan base in the process, before the top labels can take me to levels I only dream of.
You just released a new single titled “STAY” featuring TheBlackBoyJohn. What will you say was the main message behind the song?
“STAY” is an ego-centric song that features rapper TheBlackBoyJohn who is a close friend of mine. Basically telling the world, I can’t be troubled at all, wherever my haters may want to go or stay to try.
As a youngster, you faced many struggles and tribulations, will you say that as given you a brand-new perspective towards life?
Definitely. For a 20 year old, I have seen a lot. My perspective towards life has changed overtime and I love how I am experiencing so much at my age, so I can avoid the mistakes I make now later in life.
As a young entrepreneurial minded guy. How do you balance your personal and professional life?
I don’t know if there is any balance to be honest lol. Music is my whole life. It’s all I do and talk about 80% of the time. The other 20% is for my personal life I guess, so there’s no balance at all lmao
How often do you go to the gym and how many hours do you spend while you there?
I do not gym at all lol. I am just a naturally fit guy. I play a lot of football (soccer) though.
What’s your Dos and Don’t when it comes to music?
Don’t ever ride another person’s wave. Do things your way. If you believe you are good at this shit, do follow your guts. Too much planning can break you when things don’t go your way. Always work on good constructive criticism (emphasis on the ‘good’), which bring me to my last point. Do not ever give a f**k about what ‘they’ are saying about you. Just let them talk, that’s all you want.
What would you say are the main misconception the public have about you?
My image right now. Dropping ‘Stay’ as my first song really makes everyone think I am a trap artist when on the contrary I am actually an RnB artist with a lot of love songs coming up. It is good though. I hope the world appreciates my versatility.
What aspect surprised you the most once you started in the music industry?
The fakes bruh. There are so many fake people in this industry. That really caught me by surprise. There are a lot of people that claim to be what they are not in the industry, promising to take you to new levels but are really just trying to make a quick buck.
Which brands, producers, directors, clients and musicians have you worked with?
I have worked with a lot of top local acts based in Dallas, like producer Demsa, popular social media comedian turned rapper TheBSimone, director Jeff Adair and many more. I’m looking to collaborate with more international acts in the coming months.
What has been one of the most memorable jobs to work on?
It has to be shooting the music video for ’Stay’ with Jeff Adair. Shooting my first ever music video was really amazing for me and something I won’t forget in a long time.
Who do you want to work with that you haven’t yet?
Wow, there’s a lot of them. But at the top of my list will be Maleek Berry, Wizkid, Nonso Amadi, Sakordie and Bryson Tiller. If I do a song with Bryson Tiller, I might just retire after lol
Tell us two things people don’t know about you?
That I am very good at soccer, probably better than I am at music and that I also mix and master most of my songs.
What do you consider your biggest professional success so far?
Performing at Afrimma 2017 definitely. That is the biggest stage I have been on till date.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Promoting my music in the Nigerian market. It really is challenging trying to penetrate the market while I am based in the United States. I am an international Nigerian artist, and would love to get attention I get in the U.S. in the country I am from.
You are very active on social media. Do you think its important to be online and if so why?
Of course, the people who listen and love my music want to know what goes on in the life of the artist they love. So it’s only right I stay active all the time for them.
You are mostly based in Dallas, Texas. How is that working out for you?
It’s been really great. I haven’t spent a lot of time in the scene but I have made all the necessary connections I need to make in the city. All of the top music heads here f**k with me already and I believe my strongest fan base is here for now. I performed at a party in Arlington, and everyone was going wild for me. I love Dallas, but my career needs to grow and I’ll have to move sooner or later.
What are your must visit travel destinations?
I’d love to stay in Cali for a while and see what I can get out there. Atlanta, Florida, New York and definitely Nigeria are must visits.
Things we should take seriously about your music style choices?
Most importantly, I want everyone to understand that I am probably the most versatile artist to hit the scene in a long time. I have trap, reggae, RnB, afro-pop records and songs in all sorts of genres. But it’s all under my style of music. The Island Boy wave.
How would you describe your style?
Very tropical. From the music, to the look, to even the way I talk. I really am the Island Boy.
What music genre appeals to you the most?
RnB. Especially the modern type infused with a lot of smooth banging drums and 808s. I love slow smooth music with my whole heart.
Name your 5 must have accessories/essentials?
I don’t know if I have up to 5 “must haves” but I certainly do have some;
1. My nose ring. I love that so much.
2. You’ll probably always catch me with a pair of shades on. So that’s two for me.
3. I don’t wear a watch because I don’t like to carry around a cheap one on my wrist lol. I can always check for the time on my phone. I’ll start wearing watches when I can afford an expensive one lmao
What are your favourite fashion trends?
I am a very big fan of the skateboard street fashion and high fashion too.
What is your favourite dish?
Nigerian jollof rice with soft fried plantains and hot spicy grilled chicken or gizdodo by the side. That meal is undefeated.
What songs are currently on your playlist?
A lot of mainstream music mixed with songs from upcoming acts I f**k with like Odunsi the engine, Prettyboy D-O, Nonso Amadi, Lady Donli etc.
Apart from music, what other projects are you currently working on?
I am currently working on providing water and electricity for some communities back in Nigeria, but I don’t like to talk much on that because we still are on the baby phases of that project. I am also working on a documentary for myself to show the world what it is like to be an African artist trying to make it in the United States.
Seeing you’re doing your dreams, what advice can you give others to pursue their dreams?
Speak it into existence. If you say you’re going to do something and really put your mind into it, forgetting the word ‘hard’ exists, you’ll make it happen, I swear. No matter how big your dreams may be!
Any specific plans to tour Africa and the world?
Touring is an important part of any artists career, so yes I am hoping for that but there are no plans right now. We will look into touring after I have dropped my first music project.
Any final words?
If you read up to this point, I just want you to know that I love you so much and that the journey really just began and you are a very big part of it. Be on the lookout for my new music and share with everyone you know. That is the only way we can grow together.