The African Giant: Burna Boy Brings Afrobeats to the DMV

BY: DEZIMEY KUM

Nigerian artist, Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, known professionally as Burna Boy, electrified The Fillmore Silver Spring on Monday, Sept. 16. Burna and his seven-piece band — guitars, keys, horns and a backing vocalist — maintained stamina throughout the concert until the very end. Not a second passed by without the crowd yelling and screaming with excitement, “BURNA, BURNA, BURNA!”

Photo by Dezimey Kum

Photo by Dezimey Kum

Burna Boy has gone from a Nigerian superstar to an international sensation. In June 2019, the BET Awards named Burna Boy “Best International Act”. He played Coachella last April, and was recently featured on Beyoncé’s Lion King album. 

Photo by Dezimey Kum

Photo by Dezimey Kum

 With the recent release of his fourth album, African Giant, the Nigerian singer delivers low-tempo funk that blends dancehall and Afrobeat production. Burna Boy effectively adapts a diverse set of influences and sounds ranging from U.K Artist, Jorja Smith, to Nigerian rapper Zlatan, Jeremih and Future. 

With his unifying sound, Burna Boy’s music reaches across the diaspora. He starts with Africa first, then extends outward. While he used English frequently before, he primarily sings in Pidgin, Yoruba, and Igbo and pulls guests from all over the world. Some songs featured on African Giant incorporates toughness (“Killin Dem”), romance (“Gum Body”) and afrobeat history (“African Giant”) while still keeping party-ready vibes that follow from the album’s grooves and rhythm.  

Not only does he spend time creating versatile music, Burna Boy probes Nigeria’s turbulent history. After all, there cannot be an African Giant without speaking truth to power; he spends much of the album breaking down the narratives that have surrounded Nigeria. No better examples bring awareness to the issues related to the Nigerian government’s actions than “Wetin Man Go Do” and “Dangote”. Both songs speak on the brutal nature of a life making ends meet with the unrepentant drive of billionaires. In instances like these, Burna Boy juggles roles as a global ambassador and party-starter.