6 Takeaways From Burna Boy's New Album, 'I Told Them...'
From his love for hip-hop to the controversy, here are the key takeaways from Burna Boy's new album.
One of Nigeria's biggest superstars, Burna Boy, hasn't slowed down since his project African Giant propelled him to global heights. Now, with a Grammy under his belt and the world tuned in to his every move and sound, he has gifted his fans with his seventh studio album, I Told Them....
I Told Them... stands as a significant milestone in Burna's creative evolution, offering a reflection of his personal and artistic development. The album's title boldly underscores Burna's self-confidence, reaffirming his journey from Lagos to global stardom. The self-proclaimed 'African Giant' encapsulates his remarkable voyage and current state of mind in his new project.
Since the release of his last album, Burna Boy made history once again with a sold-out show at New York City's Citi Field stadium. He became the first African artist in history to sell out a stadium in the U.S., thrilling his fans with the viral hit "Last Last" and reminding everyone why he's one of the best performers from Africa.
We listened over the weekend and here are the six key takeaways we've gathered.
Burna Boy's Love For Hip-Hop Takes Center Stage
With I Told Them..., Burna Boy's love for hip-hop reigns free as he spotlights his long-standing affection for the genre. Hip-hop has always been a major influence on his self-described genre, 'Afro-fusion,' which blends not only rap but also R&B, dancehall, and reggae. The project creates a vibrant fusion of '90s hip-hop themes with Burna's signature storytelling on Afrobeat-inspired rhythms and melodies. The album also includes appearances from rap icons GZA and RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan, 21 Savage,Dave, and J. Cole, further cementing the hip-hop core that runs through the album.
Spotlighting Nigerian Talent
Burna Boy has always had a knack for spotlighting the careers of many Nigerian artists at the start of their careers, giving them a platform to shine globally on his albums. From Zlatan to Victony, who both excelled individually on his previous albums, I Told Them..., provides an opportunity for a rising star, Seyi Vibez to bask in the limelight. The emerging talent is the only Nigerian artist on the album and excells triumphantly on the heavy-hitting track, "Giza."
Controversy Surrounding the Album
In typical Burna Boy fashion, the Nigerian star stirred up controversy days before the release of his latest project with his comments on Afrobeats as a genre. During an interview with Zane Lowe, the Nigerian artist shared his unpopular opinion, suggesting that the genre didn't reflect the reality of life and lacked substance. Burna went on to express his belief that Afrobeats artists should use their work to convey life's trials and tribulations.
Fans of the Afrobeats genre saw Burna's remarks as disrespectful and inaccurate, as many argued that the genre had depth and varied in themes with different artists adding their own stories and perspectives. Others supported Burna's bold critique of the genre, aligning with the artist's comments. According to Burna Boy, this is why he feels his sound isn't associated with Afrobeats and prefers to label it 'Afro-fusion.'
Mixed Reactions From Fans
Fans in general had mixed reactions to the new album. Comments on X spanned from those says if you think the "album is any less than a 10/10 you need ear surgery" to different people continuing criticism for Burna's comments on Zane Lowe and bringing it to their judgement of the album. "Afrobeats does not have to be conscious for it to be validated... Burna Boy is not eloquent enough for the conversation he is trying to have," one video mentions. "How do you shit on a movement that has taken years to build by your pioneers," another video mentions in more explicit terms. "Tons of people worked really hard to make sure afrobeats gets the global recognition it now has, which [Burna Boy] has greatly benefitted from, by the way."
Burna Boy's Star Power Shines Through
Since his breakout in the Nigerian scene, Burna Boy has always stood out amongst his peers as an outlier eager to prove he'll be one of the best ever to do it. Ten years and seven projects later, the self-proclaimed 'African Giant' has become one of Africa's biggest global voices. With his seventh album, which features several A-list collaborations, Burna Boy puts his star power on display. He proudly tells the world how far he's come, celebrating his accomplishments. I Told Them... chronicles his conflicts, triumphs, and self-assurance, and validates his rise to the top.
Virgil Abloh Tribute
Like many black creatives and individuals worldwide, Burna Boy had a close relationship with the late Virgil Abloh, who strongly influenced his career as a black artist navigating global stardom. Speaking to Apple Music, Burna shared his love for Virgil, saying, "He's the heart of the whole fashion world, especially for us Black people. Not just that, it's the cool creativity in the man's head. This is the difference. You look at something, he looks at it, and you see different colors than each other, you know what I mean? It's crazy." With the new project, Burna gives a glimpse of their relationship with a sample of Virgil talking about music concepts, showcasing Virgil's genius and his special mind.