The Burna Boy Effect


First of all, I’d like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who has read either of my two posts or both! The feedback has been really motivating. In just a week, I’ve had 600 visitors and 900 views so far. I can not thank you all enough. I pray that you are also met with words of motivation and encouragement with your own ventures.

So as many of you already know, Nigerian recording artist Burna Boy sold out the Hammersmith Apollo on the 1st October, with over 5,000 people present, for his homecoming concert on Nigerian Independence Day. He also had a show in Manchester and Birmingham too which I’m sure were also very successful.

I would’ve loved to be able to write a review for the concert but I was unable to make it and I am absolutely gutted. I was disgustingly ill, bugged down with what seemed like a chest infection and I know I would’ve not been able to scream and dance to my hearts content. Nonetheless, I will always be a big Burna Boy fan and supporter. If you would like to learn more about what I call the burna boy effect, stay tuned.

For me I feel like I have embarked on this journey with Burna Boy. I remember vividly the first time I heard of him through my cousin. She sent the link to the ‘Like to Party’ video and I remember rolling my eyes. Even though secretly she has always been the plug for naija jams I believed her taste in music was questionable.

I opened up the link and watched the video. The first thing that stood out to me was a) the quality and standard of the video – it was impeccable and b) his personal style, which was very distinctive. It wasn’t something I had seen before from a Nigerian performing artist. Automatically he caught my attention. I thought ‘He’s different’. I’ve always been ‘neeky’ in a sense; whenever I discover a new artist that I like, I’ll go and Google, YouTube, Wikipedia and find out all I need to know. It was from there I saw his video ‘Abeg, abeg, abeg’ & further I found his mixtape with songs such as ‘Firewood’, ‘Trumpet’ ft Davido & ‘Touch your toes’. I was captivated by this handsome, young man with a Hightop, that dressed like Shabba Ranks. But what would make Burna Boy’s story more relatable than any other? We’d heard the ‘Rags to Riches’ tale 1001 times over. Wande coal’s ‘Mushin to Mo hits’, 2face ‘Grass to grace’ and even Wizkid’s ‘Superstar’. So what was it that made Burna Boy so compelling?

After watching his interviews, hearing his British accent and reading blogs it became apparent that Burna Boy spent some time in the UK before relocating back to Nigeria. This explained why his sound was so diverse. It couldn’t be pinned down to one genre. It certainly wasn’t the typical Afro-pop sound that many of us had heard before. Burna boy said in these interviews that he spent some time living in Brixton, a very multicultural area in London, highly influenced by Caribbean culture.
Furthermore, his grandfather was the manager of late great Fela Kuti, the pioneer of afrobeat. He tries to incorporate these different sounds into his own; which he calls ‘Afro-fusion’. Already, there was some sort of connection for me. Being born and raised in London means being exposed to many types of music, from Pop, Rock n Roll, Grime, Dancehall and Hip Hop. I understood what Burna was trying to achieve with his sound and for many like me, I believe they understood it too. After first discovering him in 2012, By 2013 Burna Boy was the topic for many young Nigerians in the diaspora, as his song ‘Tonight’ began travelling the airwaves.

As the years passed, he continued to give us more hits such as ‘Run my race’ and ‘Don Gorgon’ but we would later find out for one reason or the other Burna Boy wasn’t allowed to come into the UK because of previous crimes committed. Up until this day no one knows the true extent of the situation. Although his fan base in the UK had grown tremendously, he wasn’t able to come here to perform which was heartbreaking for many of us.

Now if we fast forward a bit into the present day, one thing that fascinates me is the power of music and its potential to travel the globe. Burna boy had not stepped foot in the UK for 7 years. Not to promote a mixtape, album, concert, nothing. For international fans, we have relied heavily on his music travelling from Nigeria to here through various sources on the internet. Of course, social media helps things spread like wildfire. It doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but even for some of our favourite artists such as Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Drake once there is new material, they’re travelling all over the world to promote it. These artists are global superstars but still, they do not underestimate the power of promotion. This only emphasises the loyalty of Burna’s fans. For him to be able to step back in the UK after being away for so long and sell out a concert in one of London’s major venues says a lot about Burna as an artist.

All of this is what I call the “Burna boy effect”.

I haven’t been back to my motherland in almost a decade. On the outside looking in, it seems like he is well received over there too. However, I am not sure if they are able to relate to him the same way we do. As a British-born Nigerian, I believe he represents us in his music. From the diversity of the sound, mixing Yoruba with English, to him speaking in a Jamaican accent. This is a reflection of what we see on a daily basis in this huge melting pot we call London.

I have watched snap stories, I’ve seen periscopes, Twitter and insta vids and I literally feel like a proud mum. I hold on to the scripture in The Bible that says ‘Your gift will make room for you’. I am so happy to see the love and overwhelming support Burna Boy has received. I hope and pray his fan base continues to grow. I also hope for more amazing music. I think Burna should relocate back to the UK. What do you guys think?

Don’t forget to join in on the discussion and give me feedback on twitter @ImaniDH. Also let me know if there is anything you want me to write on.