Burna Boy Seem To Be Repeating The same mistakes Davido and Wizkid made, but it might Just be what his career needs.
Having got the attention of the international music scene, it is only natural that our biggest music acts will seek to take their music to the rest of the world.
International record labels have formed alliances with them with the promise of taking their music to new audiences across the world but the problem with record labels is always the same.
In a recent interview with Native Mag, Davido goes on the record to say that the EP was shit. Sony Music were forcing him to make music that was different from his sound, he was not happy about it but he played along. When he figured out that this new sound Sony Music was forcing on him wasn’t working out well for him, he decided to go “back to basics”. He came back to Lagos and started recording new songs, one of those songs was the mega hit “IF” that was produced by Tekno. From that point till now, Davido has been on a roll with the hits and has also won international awards.
In 2017 alone, he won the MOBO award for Best African Act, the MTV Europe Music Awards for Best African Act and Best Worldwide Act. He achieved this feats not by changing his sound like Sony Music Entertainment wanted but by staying true to himself and his sound. Luckily for him, he was quick to recognize this mistake and get his career back on track.
Wizkid released Sounds from the other side with the help of RCA Records and Sony Music
Entertainment (these guys again) in 2017 with the same aim of taking African music to the world. For a long time, it would seem like Wizkid has been appointed as the chosen one to take African music to the world; which is a lot of responsibility for one man. The SFTOS album was able to break into the international scene thanks to strategic collaborations with the likes of Drake, Trey songz, Chris Brown, Bucie, Ty Dolla Sign, Major Lazer and DJ Mustard.
The album tried so hard to appeal to the American and British audience with its unique combination of different genres such as EDM, Afrobeat and Dance hall. The song that stood out the most was the Come Closer collaboration with Drake, but with 2 music videos for the same song and no Drake in sight, one can only wonder how serious Wizkid, RCA Records
and Sony Music Entertainment were about the whole thing.
— Music Plug (@MusicPlugAfrica) April 27, 2018
Add Wizkid’s absence at Coachella this year and you will really begin to question if we all made a mistake by expecting him to be our ambassador of the afro-pop/afro-beats to the world. But have no fear, because just like Davido, Wizkid has gone back to basics. He came back home and started working on new music while collaborating with other acts. The massive hits like “Manya”, “Nowo” and “Soco” were birthed from his return to his original sound.
International record labels know that there is a market out there for African music but they keep going about it the wrong way. Their efforts to water down or change the African sound to fit into foreign audiences will not work for a simple reason. It is not original. African music is unique and special in its own way and does not need to be tampered with before it can resonate with audiences all over the world. The likes of Fela, Miriam Makeba and Chaka Khan were able to take their music all over the globe without changing their sound.
Burna Boy has always been a unique artist who has never gotten proper recognition for his craft in Nigeria. Maybe it’s because of his bad boy/i-don’t-care-what-you-think-about-me persona or maybe because we just don’t appreciate good music as we ought to. Atlantic records signed Burna Boy last year with the same intention as the record labels that signed Wizkid and Davido. Burna Boy’s first offering from his partnership with Atlantic Records was “Streets of Africa” produced by Leriq, who has produced a lot of songs for Burna Boy. The song was well received by both the critics and fans.
— Music Plug (@MusicPlugAfrica) February 12, 2018
His next step was to release his latest album (Outside) under the Atlantic records umbrella and ever since its release, the album has been met with much critical acclaim both at home and abroad. Ever since his appearance on the music scene, Burna Boy has always been an artist that couldn’t be put into a box. He has always been a versatile act with a serious cult following but he hasn’t achieved the level of success that his contemporaries have. Just like the biblical phrase “a prophet has no honour in his home”, it comes as no surprise that Burna Boy decided to join forces with Atlantic Records to take his music to new lands where his art might truly be appreciated.
Burna Boy is not trying to change his sound to entice the foreign audiences like Davido and Wizkid tried to do. He is still himself on his “Outside” album and there is no pressure on him to change his sound because he has always made music that cut across different genres.
Afrofusion, That is the music Burna Boy makes and with the backing of an international record label like Atlantic Records that turned Kranium into a super star, this might turn out to be the best thing for Burna Boy’s career.
Words By: Excel Joab