Burna Boy “OUTSIDE” identity, afrofusion and something more
Is this a comment on the difficulties of being a multi-genre artist or a criticism around Burna Boy not chiming into internet hype? I’m not sure but “OUTSIDE” was good and I think we missed it.
Words by @abigadeo
In February 2018, Burna Boy released what I would describe as the best Afrofusion project of this year but I would argue that the project was “slept on” and 84% of my Instagram agree.
Taking inspiration from the father of Afrobeats, Burna Boy has adopted the Nigeria’s 70s psychedelia aesthetic, hugely celebrating heritage with Fela-inspired videos, while his lyrical subject matter has often nodded to the complex political climate of Nigeria, much like Fela Kuti did. And I’m all are for it.
Aesthetically he is all there with strong branded graphics on Instagram and in the streets, Burna Boy gained huge attention with songs early in his career such as “Like to Party”, “Tonight” (2012) and “Soke” (2015). But what did we miss?
It’s now November and I’m back to listening to Burna Boy’s L.P. “Outside” but I’d say it’s not because of any effort on his side, but rather due to an interesting Instagram freestyle that went viral. “My Ye is Different to your Ye” was a freestyle, rapped over Burna Boy’s beat for “Ye”.
(This moment is slightly reminiscent of the “In My Feelings” challenge kickstarted by Shiggy, I’d argue that it helps Drake’s track top the charts and right now, Instagram captions galore are referencing lyrics from the “My Ye is Different to your Ye” freestyle. It’s really a highly quotable freestyle but surely this is the perfect time for Burna Boy to drive another big push around his project?)
An interview with the retailer/digital magazine SSENSE just dropped where Burna Boy is championed as an “Afrofusion Superhero”, but the article features no reference to the “Ye” freestyle that has us talking again.
Around the time of the projects release, Burna was featured on the Fader, Notion, Interview Magazine and Vogue, but something was missing, I missed something. I’m wondering where I expect to see an Afrofusion artist? I guess Burna wouldn’t be home on GRM Daily, but maybe he’d be home on Trench magazine? Or I guess he is home on RONIEBOND?
Is this what he means by “Outside”? Is this what it’s like to be rapping in Pidgin English over alt-fusion beats?
Either way, something is/was missing and although I’d like to say you should “go and listen to OUTSIDE cos it’s really good”, I want Burna Boy and his label to chime in on the conversation and support me in my persuasion efforts with some kind of renewed PR story that lets us see Burna Boy behind the dark shades.
Featured image by G L Askew II via SSENSE.