Burna Boy Lands in Hot Water After Saying Afrobeats Music Is ‘Mostly About Nothing, Literally Nothing’
Burna Boy has enjoyed two highly successful summers thanks to the massive crossover appeal of Afrobeats. As one of the biggest stars in the genre, fans were upset to hear him downplay the substance of the music he’s become synonymous with.
According to Blavity, Burna Boy sat down with famed journalist Zane Lowe to talk about his meteoric rise, but when asked about the appeal of Afrobeats, his response was surprising. He said: “90% of them have almost no real-life experiences that they can understand, which is why you hear most of Nigerian music, or I’ll say African… I don’t even know what to say. Afrobeats, as people call it, it’s mostly about nothing, literally nothing. There’s no substance to it.”
“Nobody is talking about anything in it. It’s just a great time.” The Nigerian-born artist believes the music is missing the “essence” of real life and the truth about the struggles facing the people it represents. “The artist is a person who has good days, bad days, great days, and worst days,” he said. “And for me, if I give you something like this with my face on it and my name, then I should be giving you that experience. That should be a window for you to see some of that essence.”
Burna Boy’s sentiments are not far from those of the icon Nina Simone, who felt the artist’s duty was to “reflect the times.” However, many found his comments to be reductive.
“This is ignorance at its peak! A great time is not ‘nothing’. It is something. Something tangible,” one user said. “Afrobeats has lifted a lot of people out of depression. During #EndSARS protested using Davido’s FEM as our anthem. @burnaboy should stop capping rubbish just because he wants to sell his album.” While another tweeted, “Just like any genre, AfroBeats can vary widely in content and depth. It’s essential to recognize its ability to both entertain and carry significant message.”
Music criticism, like any art form, is subjective; however, from an artist like Burna Boy—whose biggest hit to date, “Last Last,” chronicles the effects of heartbreak—the critique carries much more weight.