The Afrofusion Artist Burna Boy is here to prove why he's an African Giant and that loving roots only make you grow stronger. As Apple Music's Up Next Artist for July 2019, we sat down with the man setting the world alight.
What a year for Burna Boy it has been. The trajectory to stardom may seem like it has moved at Razorlight speed, however, for this Nigerian musician it has been a long time in the works. Hailing from Port Harcourt City in Southern Nigeria, Burna Boy carries in his heart the Nigerian spirit wherever in the world he may be. In every song Burna Boy masterfully creates you can hear the Nigerian influences waxed over every beat, drum and lyric. Hence Burna Boy being knighted with the official accreditation of the founder of ‘Afrofusion’- an entirely new genre of music. If creating a new genre of music isn’t legendary then I’m not sure what is.
Defining the new sound that is Afrofusion can best be described as an eclectic melting pot of reggae, dancehall, R&B and hip-hop. What makes this new sound that Burna has crafted meticulously so interesting is his ability to weave it into genres from around the globe. Already successfully collaborating with London’s own Lily Allen, and most recently, R&B’s new sweetheart Mahalia. It’s obvious Burna can put his money where his mouth is when it comes to his musical talent after starting to produce tracks at just 10 years old. After moving to London to pursue an education in academia, Burna dropped out to pursue his soul’s passion for music back home in Nigeria. Luckily, Burna’s grandfather managed Fela Kuti for the first 15 years of his career, which helped shape Burna’s sound and unwavering ambition to place Nigeria as a powerhouse on the map whilst his mother took care of the media. Burna tells me that “I think the most important thing my grandfather taught me is the importance of “music” – being able to understand the mechanics of it and the message behind it. I’m lucky to have him in my corner.”
Right now Burna Boy is in the middle of his international tour, and I’m lucky to catch up just after his performance in Eindhoven. “The crowd was so insane – I can’t wait to go back there in October for my own concert.” Hearing that a crowd has gone crazy for Burna isn’t shocking if you’ve seen or felt the energy that Burna exudes live on stage. Treating it like it’s his throne, Burna’s explosive presence and unrelenting stamina affects everyone in the audience to either get on his level if they’re not already. “It feels surreal” Burna reveals, “Especially because the process of making music for me isn’t strategic to “do a certain thing”. When I get in the studio it’s a spiritual thing for me. The message comes to me and I deliver it. So it always feels amazing on stage to have people connect with it not only on a deeper cognitive level but also have them mash up the dance floor when it comes on.” And that’s exactly what Burna’s fans do when they see him perform.
Transporting everyone in the audience to Nigeria, Burna Boy recognises that this is because he is “a product of his environment” that carries a universal message of hope for him and his people. However, it still feels like an “outer body experience” for Burna to have thousands upon thousands of people relating to his message.
- Jacket Vintage
Forever a rebel at heart, Burna tells me he always likes to “deviate from the status-quo”. This spirit doesn’t confine him to breaking down barriers within the music industry – his fashion sense and videos all work in harmony to embody what Burna Boy is. Revealing that there will be a “twist” onto everything he creates, perhaps this is the secret equation behind the success of Burna Boy who is only getting started.
It’s always refreshing to speak with someone who is incredibly talented that is spread over many mediums, the truest sense of an artist, who can always have a laugh and not take themselves too seriously. Burna Boy’s latest video. ‘Your Anybody’, directed by Clarence Peters – “an OG in the game” Burna tells me, was really about just “having fun and letting the light in, I really wanted to create a visual that would encourage people not to take life too seriously.” A message we can all get behind for sure.
Speaking with Burna it’s obvious that love will always be the message – a love for those who have helped mould him into the man he is today; everchanging and evolving. Coming straight off of winning a coveted BET Award, Burna’s mum accepted the award on his behalf and in her speech provided a message from Burna that every black person is to “remember you were Africans before you became anything else.” Undoubtedly, Burna Boy may have flown the nest, but his love for his hometown, country, and people is a love that is eternal and will shine through in his upcoming album “African Giant’ out July 26th.