Burna Boy under fire for saying Afrobeats lacks substance

Nigerian Grammy winner, Damini Ogulu professionally known as Burna Boy, has riled up social media with his negative comment about Afrobeats.

In an interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, the ‘Last Last’ hit-maker asserted that 90 percent of Afrobeat songs which is mostly domiciled in Nigeria“lack substance and real-life experience”.

The self-proclaimed African Giant who noted that the genre is “literally nothing” spoke about the need for artistes to embody real-life experiences of their songs.

Burna Boy said; “Because of where I am from. The sh*t I have to go through to maneuver and just stay with my crown on my head. (It is harder for people that know you best to love you the most). Because they do not know you best. You just think they do.

“When you start going around the world and you start seeing that there are actually motherf**kers that know me a lot than the people that share the same (not experience)… because 90 per cent of them [Nigerian musicians] have no real life experiences which is why most of Nigerian music or African music or afrobeats as people call it, is mostly about nothing, literally nothing.

“It is why you hear most of Nigerian music or Afrobeats as people call it, is mostly about nothing. Literally nothing. There is no substance to it. Like nobody is talking about anything. It is just a great time. It is an amazing time. But at the end of the day, life is not an amazing time.

“No matter how nice of a time you are having now or you are had at some point or you plan to have, you are still going to face life. Me speaking for myself, the artiste is the person who has good days, bad days, great days, and worst days.

“So, for me, I feel like music should be the essence of the artiste. The artiste is a person who has good day, bad day, his great days and worst days. So, I’m dropping a project that should be a window for the fans to see those experiences.”

He faced backlash on Twitter for the controversial statement as many fans expressed disappointment.

One Roviel tweeted; Davido and Wizkid will go on international stage and promote the culture, try shining the light of Afrobeats to the world, help other up coming acts get on big stage
But every Opportunity this guy gets, it’s to downgrade Africa or sell us short, the Term Big 3 or 2 wasn’t just because of Musical accolades, it involves the impact they made off the studio, that’s why personally Olamide deserves that Big 3 title more than the other guy.

Joey Akan wrote; RE: Burna Boy and Nigerian music lack of substance.

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 proper context to process his bullshit.

He cannibalises his people for strangers who are yet to fully commit to him.

Previous campaigns saw him wearing activism as a cloak, and standing in line for “oppressed Africans,” to provide himself the marketing angle to push out African Giant and Twice As Tall.

And following the blessings of “Last Last,” he’s aiming for a trifecta, by going all in with his Messianic messaging.

“Nigerian music has no substance,” he says, before positioning himself and his output as the most substantial creative expression from Nigeria.

Nigerian music has substance. We are a party nation, finding expression in rhythm and emotional upliftment via happy music. That’s why the drumming continues to be most recurring instrument in all our of pop music.

For themes, Nigerian music embraces escapism and realism. While Burna is right that, “it’s a good time,” he also fails to understand that the good feeling is a consequence of natural need for emotional upliftment. Has he paid any attention to our lyrics?

We danced to Omah Lay’s “Soso,” a record about deteriorating mental health, and the cultural toxic reliance on women to perform unpaid emotional labour.

Shallipopi might use Amapiano to get you off your seat, but self-actualization via survival is a central theme in his expression. Odumodublvck oscillates between love, camaraderie and community upliftment, but his tools of trade are often coarse and rudimentary.

And how about our eternal obsession with love? Where Adekunle Gold, Joeboy, Rema, Fireboy DML, Blaqbonez and BNXN have constantly explored all the facets of human connection, and the dance that precedes connectivity and companionship.

While we might dance to Joeboy’s “Sip (alcohol), we are witnessing and turning up to a beaten man, reliant on substance abuse to prop up his sanity and cope with the trauma of survival. We just don’t see it, because we’re too busy dancing.

When people say, “Nigerian music does not have substance,” it’s not an indictment on the culture and our tendency to oversimplify deep issues, communicating weighty themes via dance music.

It’s a window into that person’s mind. That window exposes a lack of intellectual leap, or the refusal to see our music beyond the happy feeling it provides.

Nigerian music is a reflection of the Nigerian society. Burna Boy is wrong for debasing his country’s art.