Benna: A Modern Take

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The Benna Riddim produced by Boogy Rankss and released in April 2022, is composed of eight (8) songs performed by Caribbean artists, each framing the rhythm to their unique perspective.  Benna which means Blessed, also describes one of the earliest types of local Antiguan and Barbadian music.  Benna, characterized by an up-tempo riddim with a call-and-response lyrical format, was used to spread news across the island.  In Antigua and Barbuda, Benna gave the Africans who were at the time enslaved, a common voice, and evolved into the newspaper of the people.

The theme behind the riddim itself, masterfully put together by Boogy Rankss describes a story with sexual symbolism.  The scenarios presented by the Artists resonate, with Tian Winter (Antigua & Barbuda) chanting about the Baddest, Dev (Trinidad & Tobago) pleading Gal Roll It, and Klassik Frescobar (Jamaica) fusing with Supa Nytro (United Kingdom) to tell the gyal to Reverse ItLyrikal (Trinidad & Tobago) made the gyal Look Back, and K-Lee (Antigua & Barbuda) was raw with Backazz.  After hearing all of that, Jadel (Trinidad & Tobago) jumped on the riddim later in July to give the gyal Bad Up and later remixed the song into a collaboration with Demarco (Jamaica) to Shake Up things. The Riddim was reloaded with DJ Cheem (Barbados) and Melick (Trinidad & Tobago) asking the gyal to Push Back Dat.

The Baddest, performed by Tian Winter peaked at #1 in mid-May 2022 in his birthplace of Antigua & Barbuda on iTunes (World) and by month end, the song would reach #1 on the iTunes (All Genres) charts.  In June 2022 the song would peak at #5 on the Apple Music (World) chart in Antigua & Barbuda.  As of September 18, 2023, Baddest is #8 on Apple Music (World) chart for Antigua & Barbuda – the song has remained on the chart now 473 days and counting.  Tian would also take 1st Runner up in the Antigua Carnival Party Monarch Competition in 2022 with Baddest.  The song is the only one on the riddim to hit the charts in Japan peaking at #29 on iTunes (World) in November 2022 – a signal of an interested audience for Tian on the island.  The song has also generated just over 150,000 Spotify streams to date – quite a feat, as the population of Antigua & Barbuda is just under 100k, further illustrating an interested external audience for Tian.  This song might be positioning itself to be one of the Baddest for Tian Winter.

Dev had the Gal Roll It in Trinidad & Tobago and beyond.  On Spotify the song has already racked up over 100k streams.  In his homeland the song would peak in early January 2023 at #6 on the iTunes (World) chart and later at #13 on the iTunes (All Genres), in anticipation of Trinidad Carnival.  As recent as August of 2023, during the ramp up for Notting Hill Carnival, the song would peak at #40 in the United Kingdom on iTunes (World).  

Klassik Frescobar and Supa Nytro made the gyal Reverse it – especially those streaming the song on Apple Music (World) in Anguilla (#9), Antigua & Barbuda (#27), and #61 in both Guyana & Bermuda. DJ Cheem & Melick reloaded the Riddim and had the gyal Push Back Dat – primarily in Barbados, Bermuda, Belize, Grenada and Dominica where the song peaked in the Top 100 on Apple Music (World).  Backazz peaked as high as #5 in Anguilla on Apple Music (World) in March 2023, just months after it peaked at #13 on Apple Music (World) in Antigua & Barbuda & #13 on iTunes (World) in France. In line with the French interest in the up-tempo sounds and unrestrained lyrics, the raw version of Backazz was the highest charting song on the Riddim in France.  During the United States Labor Day weekend in September 2023, as if it is just getting started, Backazz (Raw) went on to peak at #89 on the United States iTunes (World) chart, also the same weekend as the New York City Caribbean Labor Day festivities. 

Bad Up was released in July 2022, by Jadel, the only female on the Riddim.  The song has generated 30k Spotify streams to date and has hit the charts in ten (10) countries on the World charts for both Apple Music & ITunes.  In January 2023, Bad Up was remixed into Shake Up with dancehall sensation Demarco.  The collaboration provided a boost to the song, generating an additional 45k streams on Spotify and peaking in the Top 10 in four (4) European countries (Norway, Finland, Germany & Italy) on iTunes (World).

Taking a Look Back with Lyrikal.  With over 360,000 Spotify streams, Look Back has garnered more than 50% of the total streams for the Riddim on Spotify.  On Apple Music & iTunes the song has hit the charts in 22 countries.  Look Back appears to have deeply connected with Lyrikals‘ core audience, as the song has peaked in the Top 10 in more than half (13) of the countries it has hit the charts in.  In January 2023, Look Back peaked at #1 in Lyrikals‘ native Trinidad & Tobago on iTunes (World), #3 on iTunes (All Genres), and #12 on Apple Music (All Genres) in the weeks leading up to the Trinidad Carnival season.  Look Back would also peak at #18 in the United States on iTunes (World) in early February as part of the preparation for Trinidad Carnival.  The song also spread across Europe, peaking on iTunes (World) at #4 in both in the Netherlands (October 2022) and in Austria (March 2023).  Effortlessly moving across Europe without looking back, the song nearly simultaneously peaked at #6 in Sweden on iTunes World in March of 2023. In August, ripe for Notting Hill Carnival the song would peak at #44 on iTunes (World) in the United Kingdom.  Today, Look Back continues to be streamed enough by Lyrikals’ core audience across the Caribbean to keep the song on the Apple Music (World) charts in Trinidad & Tobago, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Barbados, and Grenada for almost 18 months consistently.  It appears there is no looking back.

The Benna Riddim in total has generated over 700,000 Spotify streams and has hit the charts on Apple Music & iTunes in twenty-six (26) countries.  Furthermore, as a testament to the interest in the sound composition, the instrumental portion alone has hit the charts in nine (9) countries around the Caribbean and beyond, peaking as high as #5 in Canada and #19 in Trinidad & Tobago on iTunes (World).  With a nod to his heritage, Boogy Ranks brought back a bit of the Benna from Antigua & Barbuda, added a modern twist, and shared with the Caribbean and beyond, and it might be here to stay.

Listen to the Benna Riddim and more: 

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