When Bensoul said sinema zao ni telenovela, he meant it.
As you might have already deduced from the title, this blog post will follow – for a day – the self-proclaimed Big Dzaddy of the Year, also known as Papa Soul, Sudah, better known as Bensoul, and officially known to the government as Benson Mutua.
At the time of writing this, it’s been a little over a year and 6 months since Bensoul was promulgated as the first signee onto Sol Generation (Sauti Sol‘s passion project and record label), and his debut hit song Lucy took East Africa by storm.
Since then, he’s gone on to give us Qwarantunes (a body of music that kept us going through the first few months of a pandemic, including the anthem Peddi), entertainment on Instagram (with comical series Munchies Monday, and all those witty captions), not to mention iconic verses on Extravaganza and Rhumba Japani.
There’s very little I can say about Bensoul that hasn’t already been said. In fact, there was an episode dedicated to him on Sol Family (a reality show centered around the lives and times of Sauti Sol), in which Bensoul shared some lesser known details about his life. He told us about his childhood, upbringing, affinity for music, and the challenges he went through in this thing called life. It’s an endearing story of a boy from Embu who found his voice in the big city.
What draws a lot of us to Bensoul is the fact that he’s an open book. I mean, he’s as human as they come. His vulnerability is embodied not only in his music, but all across the content that he shares with the world.
So you’re probably sitting there thinking, ‘hey, this guy sounds great! It would be nice to know what an average day in his life is like’. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place. Granted, there’s probably no such thing as ‘an average day’ in the life of an Artist (with a capital A), and no two Mondays are ever alike, however, I was curious to know what a random day of the week consists of for Bensoul, and he gladly (and willingly) obliged.
A day in the life
It’s a sunny Friday September morning when Bensoul jumps out of bed and hops into the frog’s kingdom (I’m joking, force of habit from all the compositions in school that featured this opening line).
It really is a sunny Friday September morning. Bensoul on this day wakes up at 8:30 AM. He insists that normally he’s awake at 7:00 AM, but he says had a session the night before, which justifies why he’s awake later than usual today. Sounds plausible. The music won’t make itself, someone’s got to stay up at night to do it.
The first thing he does as soon as he opens his eyes, he says, is to check his phone – to see the time, of course.
His morning routine is exactly what you’d imagine it to be. First, he gets a glass of water, and goes on to do a 10 minute workout routine (he swears by this 10 minute morning workout, saying it completely wakes the body up. I’ll take his word for it). Next, he rolls a J and smokes, all while listening to Travis Greene – You Waited. A wholesome king, I stan. He then takes a shower, has breakfast, and is ready to go through the motions of the day.
I ask him if his days usually entail fixed meal times, but he says when in the music business, it’s inconceivable to have consistent meal times as you’re always on the go, just like today.
For consistency’s sake of this blog post, I wait until Bensoul is done with his day, and then catch up with him later, to ask a few questions, and have him recount all that transpired during the day. One of my favorite Swahili proverbs is Jua halichwi bila tukio (the sun never goes down without some happenings).
Oookay *Bensoul voice*, here we go. (‘Q’ is me asking the questions, & ‘B’ is Bensoul giving his responses).
Q: Do you usually plan your day in advance? If so, what was the plan for today, and what were your goals for the day?
B: Yes, for the most part my days are planned out. Today’s plan was to go out of town to Naivasha to perform at an engagement party. I left for Naivasha at around 11:00 AM after breakfast. My other goals were to send a few songs for mixing and mastering, and to do my morning workout routine. I’m happy to say I met all those goals.
Q: You were performing at engagement party? Like, someone was getting proposed to?
B: Haha, yes. It was a surprise engagement party. The lady being proposed to had always cited Bensoul as her favorite artist, and so her man wanted a special surprise performance for her. It was all meticulously planned out. After he had proposed and she had said yes, he would start singing her favorite songs to her, and as soon as he started singing Peddi, I’d come out and surprise her with a performance. It went exactly according to plan. It was amazing, she cried.
(What’s so great about this to me, is that as much it sounds like Bensoul was there to make their day, it sounds like they’re the ones who made his day. After a series of a few more questions, I learn that performing at people’s engagement parties is a normal thing for Bensoul, having performed at a number of engagements and birthday parties.)
Q: Would you say the performance was your favorite part of the day?
B: Absolutely. That, and after the performance spending time and partying with the few guests who were there. The entire day heavily consisted of music. From the moment I woke up to when I went to bed, my day was influenced by music. It’s easy to get caught up in it, like today, since breakfast, I ended up having my next meal at 6:00 PM, because it was all about the drive, sound check, and the performance. Those are the best kinds of days, though.
Q: What’s one nice thing someone did for you or said to you during the day?
B: The nicest thing was when the parents of the engaged couple came to say hi to me after the performance, and to say that they enjoyed my music. They must have been well into their 60s, so just knowing that my music resonates with them was a special feeling. It’s always good to know that anyone of any age group can vibe. I don’t take that for granted.
Q: What would you say is one new thing you learnt during the course of your day?
B: During the course of the day, I had multiple people come to tell me that they started listening to my music recently, after they watched the episode on Sol Family of me telling my story. It blew my mind, because it made me realize and appreciate the power of telling a story. Everyone has a story to tell, and you just never know the impact that your story might have on the next person.
Q: That’s a great lesson to have learnt. It’s funny how as artists, at the core of it all, all we do is story-tell, whether it be stories through our art, or our own personal journeys. Tell me, finally, what did you do to stay motivated and focused throughout your day?
B: During the drive to Naivasha, I was listening to a lot of contemporary influential playlists, thinking of what I need to do in order to get on those playlists, and remain on such playlists that I’m already on. That’s what kept me motivated. Also thinking of video shoot ideas, and planning for new projects. Staying inspired is key, as it drives the art.
Well folks, here’s where we call it a day (that’s something the English people say when the sun goes down). That’s what a random day of the week looks like for him.
Honestly, I don’t know what I thought a day in Bensoul’s life would look like, but this exceeded all my expectations. One thing I can personally take away from this, is to live the life I love, and to love the life I live. After all, life no get duplicate.