From Engineer to Super Singer: Ykee Benda
Tugume Wycliffe alias Ykee Benda is a fast-rising musician from Uganda signed to Badi Music. The 25-year-old comes from Kireka, a Kampala suburb. Being the seventh child in a large family, Ykee was always obedient. He says he always walked with his father from one church to another, waiting to get a chance to sing praise songs before prayer sessions.
His stage name Ykee Benda came about from his name Wycliffe fused with Benda — short for Blessed Every Night and Day Amen). He says: “I believe that everything is attached to God and the sky is the limit. [That’s how I chose that name].”
Before the music, Ykee attended Shimoni Demonstration School for his primary level education and St Lawrence Secondary School. “In my S.6 vacation, I started concentrating on writing poems and songs of my own. I would later join Makerere University Business School (MUBS) for a bachelor’s degree in Business Computing for almost a year, a thing my father never wanted.” After the first semester, Ykee got a scholarship to study Chemical Engineering in Algeria, which he took up to make his parents proud. They always had dreams of their son becoming a Chemical Engineer.
Throughout the 4-year course, Ykee always had hope that one day he would come back to music as that was his heart’s dream. He explains how he made the transition: “At that time I heard that there was an amazing music producer called Nessim. I saved all my little savings so that I would meet him after my course.”
After attaining a first class degree in Chemical Engineering, Ykee decided to start a career in music and let his Engineering career rest. He concludes: “I broke out when I sang “Muna Kampala”, a song I wrote about the love I had for a certain Kampala girl. That was in 2015 and this one still sells up to now!”
Today Ykee Benda is hailed for hit songs such as Malaika, Kyenkyebula, Muna Kampala and Farmer. He will be making his debut on Coke Studio Africa this year in the Big Break Segment paired alongside Jah Prayzah (Zimbabwe) and Mr. Bow (Mozambique). The trio will be produced by top Tanzanian talent Nahreel. Ykee says of his debut on the show: “Being on Coke Studio this year will be a career changer for me as my music has also been hitting the airwaves strong this year. I know that the opportunity will also expose more quality Ugandan music to the world. It’s also a dream come true for me to work with artists I have been watching for years. I’ve got mad respect for Jah Prayzah and Mr. Bow. Now am here collaborating with them and working with the best producer in the industry. It’s just unbelievable!”