RUGER, BNXN and the beef that birthed ‘RnB’

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Whether fans were #TeamDrake or #TeamKDot these past few weeks, no doubt, music beefs are one element of the culture that keeps everyone entertained. Often, these online battles are known to cause an even wider rift between artists as their boundaries move from professional jabs to personal attacks. Contrary to this, Ruger and Bnxn, are a prime example that artists are able to move past their beef and come together through a common interest… Their love and passion for music. 

The duo’s new album, ‘RnB’, has been met with positive reception following the unexpected turn that was the release of the first single in February, Romeo Must Die’. The song was indeed a signal that the feuding pair had moved past their issues with each other. A huge move in the Afrobeats space, as music beefs generally tend to continue on for decades. This album shows that two individuals can make amends and create great music together. A win for the culture. 

Michael Adebayo Olayinka, popularly known as Ruger is a Nigerian musician and songwriter who is mostly known for his songs, ‘Bounce’, ‘Asiwaju’ and ‘Dior’. He is one of Nigeria’s top rising artists and his collaboration with Bnxn has placed him high on the Billboard Afrobeats Charts. His collaborator Daniel Etiese Benson, professionally known as Bnxn (or Buju), is also a Nigerian Afrobeats singer-songwriter who has worked with artists such as Wizkid, Headie One, Burna Boy and Popcaan. His accolades include a Grammy nomination and a Soundcity MVP Award for “Best Collaboration” for his single ‘Finesse’

The duo created a collaborative project titled ‘RnB’ released on 17 April 2024. Prior to the release of their album, Ruger and Bnxn engaged in an online X (formerly known as Twitter) beef, which dates back to August 2022. This is when the pair exchanged words due to a tweet in which one of them was mentioned and a response from the other came as a jab at the other artist. They did, however, realise how futile and out of context the interaction was, especially during the peak of their careers. 

The Ruger/Bnxn beef illustrated how rising stars are usually pitted against one another by fans and the industry alike, creating a highly competitive and aggressive atmosphere. Usually these artists feud online as opposed to in person, as there is a likelihood they have either not met face-to-face or just do not move in the same circles. To add insult to injury, the feuds are usually heightened by the input and commentary of fans, which ultimately just fan the flames of animosity and competition. These two, however, made amends and defied the usual expectations of a music beef by coming together to make music.

‘RnB’ was positively received, charting at Number 11 on the Billboard US Afrobeats Songs Chart. The duo revealed to Billboard that it took them three days to record and complete the album. Their main message through their collaboration is one that aims to empower artists to work together in pushing the motion of their sound from Nigeria to the rest of Africa and the world at large. 

Afrobeats is an ever-growing genre with its origins firmly rooted in Nigeria, and missed opportunities to collaborate may otherwise derail promising careers over small differences and minor disagreements on social media. In spite of their beef, Ruger and Bnxn have proven they have one thing in common: Music. A fine example of how common ground can defy the odds.