In an interview with Zane Lowe on his upcoming album, Burna Boy speaking on the lack of understanding of his kind of craft and not fully gaining acceptance from Nigerians in Nigeria which was what birthed the title of his upcoming album ‘I Told Them’, said that Nigerian music and Afrobeats lack substance and it’s all fun.
“90 percent of these people have no real-life experience that they can understand which is why Afrobeats as people call it is mostly about nothing. Literally nothing. There’s no substance to it like this. Nobody’s talking about anything. It’s just a great time. It’s an amazing time. You know, I mean, but at the end of the day, life is not an amazing time,” he said.
So far Burna Boy has gotten negative feedback from fans and critics alike who have condemned him for undermining the whole essence of Afrobeats. Music journalist Joey Akan has taken to his social media to condemn the statement saying “Whenever Burna Boy has to sell a new album to a foreign, Westernised market, he finds a divisive narrative to bestow him exceptionalism in a market that does not know his backstory or lack the proper context to process his b*s. He cannibalises his people for strangers who are yet to fully commit to him.”
@jubrilZakariyau from Twitter responded to the tweet saying “ After climbing up, burn the ladder and be the only one at the top. Burna Boy is just surprised that despite burning the ladder people like Asake, Rema, and Co are sitting right at the top without Diddy.”
Reference to how Burna Boy’s album ‘Twice as Tall’ reached global success partly due to the collaboration he had with Hip Hop mogul Sean Combs popularly known as P.Diddy who helped to promote the album which eventually got Burna Boy his Grammy win in 2021.
Akan further asserts that Nigerian music possesses depth, reflecting the nation’s affinity for celebration through rhythm and emotional resonance in upbeat music. The recurrent use of drums exemplifies this, with Nigerian pop music serving as an avenue for both escapism and realism. Akan acknowledges Burna Boy’s observation that the music brings joy but counters that the positivity stems from a natural yearning for emotional upliftment, highlighting the depth within Nigerian lyrics. Akan further illustrates this by referencing artists like Omah Lay, Shallipopi, and Odumodublvck, who delve into themes of mental health, self-actualization through survival, and love, showcasing the intricate layers beneath the danceable melodies.
Akan concludes by challenging the audience’s perception of Nigerian music, emphasising that even when dancing to seemingly carefree songs, there often lies a narrative of struggle, trauma, and reliance on substance to cope. The article prompts readers to reevaluate their understanding of the music’s messages, encouraging a deeper appreciation for the multifaceted stories that unfold within the energetic rhythms of Nigerian pop music.