Earlier this year, when gospel artiste Ben Kariuki decided to go bald in support of his sister who was diagnosed with cancer, the world got a rare opportunity to witness the real Ben Cyco. Away from the cameras, lights, popularity and music, he was a kind, warm hearted and caring individual who has reserved a very special place for his fans. He reminded his fans that everyone was human and that we had a universal duty to care for each other despite our status in the society. And that formed the foundation for the evolution of the Ben Cyco season.
Ben Kariuki, aka Ben Cyco has grown to become one of the most influential gospel artistes in the country through his content creation avenues and musical gospel. He tracks his passion for music all the way back to his childhood and those now old and obsolete radio cassettes that used to be the hot thing back in the days. “I remember at that time I had like a collection of cassettes. Most of them were of DJ Tosh, Ambassador and DNG who were a great inspiration during my childhood days. But I remember running from church every Sunday to go and watch “The Stomp” which all out of interest you know,” says Ben Cyco.
High school played a very critical role in the making of Ben Cyco. Cyco used to be a poet in his early mono days before actually deciding to pursue music seriously. “My first performance before a large crowd was in form two. I was always known as a poet. So one day, there was an interclass competition and apparently form two didn’t have a representative. My classmates started shouting my name and dragging me forward and that’s how I ended up doing my first music performance which I have to say really inspired me to go to the next level,” narrates Ben Cyco. After that, he teamed up with two of his friends, DJ Spin and Scofield to form the first Christ Cycoz in high school.
Christ Cycoz became a huge high school sensation that they decided to start recording songs together. They searched for a studio to record their first song since they believed they had a fan base to help them push their music. The Cycoz scavenged for studios around Buru Buru and Komarock but the cheapest they could get at that time charged around 3000/= per session which was quite expensive for us at that time. However, at long last they managed to record their first song and started selling it to their fellow students during funkiez. The song didn’t do well as they expected and they ended up dissolving the crew.
Upperhill High School changed his whole perspective of music and molded him to understand music beyond just the rap thing he was doing before which he thought was cool. It’s here that he decided to join the music club and under the mentorship of Filah, his love story with music solidified till date. “I give a lot of credit to Filah for being part of my musical journey at such an early stage hence giving me a very solid foundation.” Even though he joined the club simply so that he could attend functions at their sister school, through the mentorship of Filah, he got an entirely new meaning for music.
As his passion for music grew, did the need to belong to something bigger than just himself. He ended up partnering with two other talented artistes after seeing them perform at an Insyder event back in 2010. He introduced them to the Christ Cycoz idea and that’s how the group was back into existence. With the help of Filah, they got an opportunity to do their first official record at his studios in South B. However, it wasn’t until 2011 that they started releasing the songs and doing music videos. Their first song to play on TV was ‘Not Guilty’ back in 2011 and this was a key motivator to their followed success. When “I’m a Champion” dropped in 2012, the country quickly noticed Christ Cycoz and the media coverage was overwhelming. That marked the beginning of the upward trajectory from then.
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Christ Cycoz maintained that same rhythm for about 7 years working together with artistes groups like Kelele Takatifu to do music tours and projects. They went on to win a Groove Award in 2016 but parted ways soon after due to different reasons. “I think one of the reasons might have also been the fact that music wasn’t really paying as much at that time. Dambiz went on into video shooting and The Dapper Brother went into fashion. I am the only one left still pursuing music.”
Ever since going solo in 2017, Ben Cyco has been on a journey of reinventing himself in the music industry and so far, it has been going pretty well. The reception that he has been getting from his fans since he released ‘Neema’ which was his first single to his latest track, “New song” you can clearly state that he is an artist determined to grow his music and brand. The quality of music and talent that comes oozing out of him the minute he grabs a mic is just admirable.
Ben Cyco states that he is determined to change the narrative when it comes to gospel music. The emergence of urban gospel has triggered a lot of debate when it comes to the authenticity of gospel music and that’s one thing he is determined to address. “I create relatable and authentic music for my fans and I think that’s what most urban gospel songs nowadays tend to lack. Maybe the concept is there but they water it down by trying to borrow a lot from secular music for the sake of attracting masses. I don’t advocate for that and I would like to use my songs to change people’s perspective.
New song just ushered in the new Cyco season which he promises has a lot of goodies in store for his fans. He hints at having a collabo with gospel rapper Maluda which is due to drop soon, a collabo with Kambua and a podcast which will be streaming very soon. Ben Cyco is also planning to drop an album early next year, possibly in April.