Nigerian Afrofusion singer and songwriter, Damini Ogulu, better known as Burna Boy, is a prodigious musical talent and he has proven overtime that he is not careful to speak candidly especially when the topic has to do with Afrobeat.
While it was easy to write off Burna Boy a year ago, much has been said about him this year, as he bounced back heavily onto the scene. From the release of his album ”Óutside” to the global reception of his hit single, ‘Ye’, 2018 has featured Burna Boy’s name prominently in the news and this time, it has been for the right reasons.
Sometime in October, Burna Boy took his ‘Life On The Outside’ tour to the Brixton Academy in London stage, where the video of the audience singing along as he performed ‘Ye’ immediately went viral online and sparked wild reactions from his fans.
Just before the show, Burna had an interview with Beat FM London, where he spoke about his music, Afrobeats and why he does not care about the numbers.
”I never really plan things, I just go with the spirit,” he says on the release and success of his ”Outside” album, following a troubled 2017 where he did not put out any project.
He was then asked how he felt about the commercial success of ‘Ye’ based on streaming numbers and he instantly responded, ”I don’t care about numbers, I don’t even want to talk about numbers.”
He then went further to state, ”Why don’t you care more about music? Why do you care about numbers, do you listen to numbers, do you get any feelings when you look at numbers?
Why do you have to measure with numbers, you should measure with things like how many lives I have touched or how many songs that have inspired people… that is what you should measure with, not numbers.
Burna earlier in the year during an interview with Radar Radio addressed the classification of Nigerian music, in particular Afrobeat and Afrobeats, and he insists that there is no such thing as Afrobeats.
”The thing is really sentimental because my family plays a role. When you say Afrobeat, I know what Afrobeat is, it is not what you are hearing today, that’s not Afrobeat. Afrobeat is one person and one person only and that is Fela Anikulapo Kuti, every other person does Afro-pop or whatever but not Afrobeat.”
On the name Afrobeats coined from the UK
”The Uk has no input in Afrobeat whatsoever. Let me make myself very clear the UK has no influence in the creation or naming of anything that has to do with Afrobeat roots or beginnings. The UK is a place that accepted Afrobeat and Afrobeat inspired a lot of the culture.”
More than ever before, 2018 has witnessed not just a high number of top heavy collaborations between international artists and African acts with many seeking to associate with the trending Afrobeats sound but also more African acts in the UK jumping on the wave and Burna is of the opinion that African artists in the UK need to come back to the continent to realise themselves first.
”100%, being here and doing Afrobeat, what tree are you going to climb, a tree with no roots or the one with solid roots. If you are here doing it and you don’t go back, you don’t know who you are, so you don’t know what you are doing in the first place, so you have to go and see, understand and become, I speak for myself.”
This year, Burna has scored that special number one moment with hit singles like ‘Ye’, ‘Gbona’ and ‘On The Low’, shone bright on a number of collaborations and bagged awards. 2018 has been a thrilling adventure for the singer and will likely be remembered as one of the best in his musical journey so far.