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Osareme Edeoghon

Of all the attributes that set Burna boy apart—his versatility, his subtle and at the same time overt mimic of Fela, his adept use of melodious vocables—perhaps the most spectacular, especially in this era of wokeness is his fusion of different genre of music into an eclectic un-nameable genre.

He calls it Afro-fusion, but we can call it Burna music.

Burna Boy has never hidden his love for Fela and his new album Outside features some of his most striking mimicry of the Afrobeat artist. He modifies Fela’s chorus in 'Sorrow, Tears and Blood': Fela lamented his generation’s complacency under the oppression of the military government. Burna bemoans his generation's laziness: they want the good life but have refused to hustle.

On the album’s most bouncy song, 'Streets of Africa', he says, “I’m Fela Kuti with the hoes. Shirts off like ain't got no clothes.” His generous use of vocables intoxicates and enchants in a way reminiscent of Naughty Boy’s 'La La La'. Both Burna and Naughty Boy share a London heritage, and Fela’s influence comes as no surprise. His granddad managed the icon.

Outside shows a serious Burna Boy. On 'Koni Baje', he says, “Me I no come here to sing song wey go come dey make una dance azonto. Iyen o wu mi lori o.” Only a self-assured artiste can take such a path at a time when songs about dance, sex, alcohol and drugs are the thing. ...

Of all the attributes that set Burna boy apart—his versatility, his subtle and at the same time overt mimic of Fela, his adept use of melodious vocables—perhaps the most spectacular, especially in this era of wokeness is his fusion of different genre of music into an eclectic un-nameable genre.

He calls it Afro-fusion, but we can call it Burna music.

Burna Boy has never hidden his love for Fela and his new album Outside features some of his most striking mimicry of the Afrobeat artist. He modifies Fela’s chorus in ‘Sorrow, Tears and Blood’: Fela lamented his generation’s complacency under the oppression of the military government. Burna bemoans his generation’s laziness: they want the good life but have refused to hustle.

On the album’s most bouncy song, ‘Streets of Africa’, he says, “I’m Fela Kuti with the hoes. Shirts off like ain’t got no clothes.” His generous use of vocables intoxicates and enchants in a way reminiscent of Naughty Boy’s ‘La La La’. Both Burna and Naughty Boy share a London heritage, and Fela’s influence comes as no surprise. His granddad managed the icon.

Outside shows a serious Burna Boy. On ‘Koni Baje’, he says, “Me I no come here to sing song wey go come dey make una dance azonto. Iyen o wu mi lori o.” Only a self-assured artiste can take such a path at a time when songs about dance, sex, alcohol and drugs are the thing. But Burna is unbowed.

He is also partly reflective and autobiographical. The autobiographical path begins with ‘City Vibration’, an ode of sorts and perhaps the most important song yet to be made about the city of Port Harcourt. The autobiography continues on ‘Where I’m From’ in which he borrows lines from Timaya’s ‘Dem Mama’. Both songs address killings in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria in the late nineties.

Unlike on his debut album LIFE, in which he employed a host of local artists, this time he goes for an international act. His choice of Lily Allen over, say, Jidenna who he name-drops on ‘Giddem’, is bemusing, but is probably because Allen is a member of the British music community. The sweet blend of music they make erases any doubt as to the value of the collaboration.

Outside is a solo album relief following an EP and three years of outstanding collaborations, the most remarkable set being Phyno’s ‘Link Up’, Olamide’s ‘Wobe Anthem’ and Skales’ Fela-esque song, ‘Temper’. It also recalls the artist’s exceptional gift which has often led him to outshine artists on their own songs and then submerge them on his.

Burna’s efforts matches his album title. He has made music that makes him seem like he has been observing the Nigerian pop industry as an outsider who, having reached a conclusion, has decided to continue a tradition of not making popular demand music. He wants to go outside his industry, which will further emphasise his insularity from his colleagues but captivate his followers of his as yet unnameable genre. He may not attract more fans in Nigeria with this album, but he soars nonetheless.

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