(Featured image via Bona Naija)
Fela Kuti once said, “you cannot sing African music in proper English.” And that quote cannot be more true, especially in this day and age. Timing is everything and right now, the time is for Afrobeats or Afropop. African musicians have been making music for centuries, however, those artists did not reach the global populous in the way that Afrobeats is starting to do. Wizkid and Davido currently could be considered the “faces” of the genre (and have been crowned by mainstream American publications as such), with many others starting to gain traction. Jay-Z once tweeted that his cousin moved to Nigeria to discover new talent.
My cousin just moved to Nigeria to discover new talent. Tidal is a global company.
— Mr. Carter (@S_C_) April 26, 2015
One of the “new” talents finally making his way to America is, Damini Ogulu, otherwise known as Burna Boy. Burna had his first concert in America on May 6th in New York City at the PlayStation Theater and it was a testament to the growth of Afrobeats and the growth of Burna Boy himself.
(Via Instagram user: @drdrummerd)
With two mixtapes, two albums and an EP under his belt, Burna Boy is far from a new artist. But to those who are unfortunately just finding out about him, they will be probably be confused about a Nigerian artist who has a strong London accent and can effortlessly switch from Patois to Yoruba to Pidgin to English (that’s what happens when you live in Brixton for a while) but it works, very well in fact.
Burna’s first American concert was amazing, dubbed Outside Tour (Outside is the name of his soon to come third studio album).
He was entertaining, hitting his vocals, not forgetting a single lyric and he had the crowd engaged, especially the women. One of the few surprises of the night was seeing legendary producer Swizz Beatz. As aforementioned, Afrobeats is making huge waves in America and to have a legend like Swizz Beatz introduce Burna Boy to the crowd is a testament to how big the genre is becoming and how highly rated Burna Boy has become.
In addition to Swizz Beatz, Jidenna made a guest appearance, performing “A Little Bit More” and “Classic Man.” Burna Boy has learned a lot from Fela Kuti, at one point using Fela’s call and response “O feshe lu, Aya kata.” The most impressive part about Burna Boy’s set was the use of a live band. The band and the young lady who provided additional vocals also deserves a round of applause, they both did one hell of a job. Hearing “Soke” with a live band was effectively asking your parents for McDonald’s and not getting the infamous, “there’s rice at home.” Instead, you actually get your McDonald’s, the whole meal, a McFlurry and the toy.
Burna’s “Outside” Tour is still going on (I highly recommend that you go, check our site for updated dates) but if this concert serves as a glimpse into Burna’s future, it’s very bright. With each year, Burna Boy has been getting progressively better and now that he has made his way West, the rest is up to him.
Burna has the star-power, the look, the talent and he can relate to a various amount of people within the Diaspora; whether you’re African, Caribbean or American, Burna definitely has something for you.