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Photo by A Kid Named Trav.

Coachella 2019: Why Burna Boy & Mr Eazi Are The Right Artists to Bring Afrobeats to the World

With Wizkid's no show at Coachella 2018, Burna and Eazi are next in line to lead Africa's takeover of global pop music

Last year, African music fans had their hopes dashed when Wizkid failed to show up for his slot at Coachella, the world's most prestigious music festival. Many shared their frustrations.

For many, seeing the continent's biggest star on the main stage was proof that African culture was taking over even the most exclusive spaces. As Africans, we believe that our art can compete for the highest honour and is deserving of the highest acclaim. We fight for our own, and shoot down voices that appear to discredit our growth. But Wizkid failed us when he failed to get on to that plane. And Africans made it known.

This year, we have a double shot representation with Burna Boy and Mr Eazi. Both musicians are scheduled for Coachella's second weekend in April. Africans who make the trip there will have an extra dose of their culture being served in a space that has long eluded them. When we scream "Afrobeats to the world," we aren't just referring to shows predominantly packed with Africans in the diaspora. We want the music to permeate spaces like these, and grow our cultural influence. Where's a bigger stage then than Coachella? Point us there. We want it all!


While Burna Boy and Mr Eazi are two of Africa's most prominent artists, it's their peers, Wizkid and Davido, who are generally regarded as the acts with the best chance of breaking into non-traditional afrobeats spaces. This is changing. Burna Boy and Mr Eazi make music that isn't overtly pop but heavy on fusion. They've also been strategic in pushing African art beyond the continent.

In the last two years, Mr Eazi has gone from selling phones in a Lagos market to moving his life and business to London leading many to call him the smartest musician on the continent. His 2017 deal with Apple Music to push his first mixtape, Life is Eazi Volume 1: Accra to Lagos, ensured that he was given prime placements on the music giant, with his art seeded into heavy streaming playlists. He also was a beneficiary of a performance spot on The Late Late Show with James Corden, a partnership with Diplo and Major Lazer. By the time he released his sophomore project, Life Is Eazi Vol. 2: Lagos to London, he already had ground in the UK.

Burna Boy carried his music into the UK on the back of a deal with Atlantic Records. After years of shooting below his weight, he cleaned up his act at the end of 2017 and started the new year as a man reborn. Ditching the controversies that had previously held him back from living his best life, he pushed through with one of the best albums to be released in 2018. That project was targeted and marketed in the UK and Europe, with two collaborations with Lilly Allen, and key partnerships and media coverage. The quality of the music did the rest. By the end of the year, he had become Africa's most meteoric music story of the year.

His growth was fast enough to convince him that Coachella should rate him higher than they did in the flyer for the show because, as he put it, he is an "African Giant." When taken to task for his behaviour, he went on Instagram and said" he represents a whole generation of SOLID African CREATIVES GOING Global. Not the soft, low self-esteem Africans with the slave mentality." He also referred to Nigerians as "unprogressive fools."


But for all our optimism as 'Giants of Africa," we are still underdogs in global pop spaces. We are yet to prove that while we have the numbers back home, our music hasn't gathered enough cultural momentum in Europe and the U.S. to become a huge force. Coachella ratings are about who has the highest clout and fandom in the US. African Giants are working hard but they don't yet have the numbers to seek headline spots at a concert that isn't organised for them.

"Coachella considers three things—social media presence, record sales, and what the most popular kind of music is at the time'' concert organizer, Paul Tollet explained in a 2017 interview with New Yorker. "We have so many arguments over font sizes [on the poster]. I literally have gone to the mat over one point size. Sounds like a small thing in the great scheme of life. But, as it relates to these bands, it's huge."

This is a win for African pop music. Irrespective of his feelings, Burna Boy has no justification to launch his selfish activism because a platform is embracing our culture. It's cause for celebration. Sincere, celebration. Burna Boy and Mr Eazi aren't just going on stage to perform for a huge crowd. They carry the love, hope and support of millions of Africans who are just happy that our dreams are finally becoming a reality. In April, we will rise and come out to support. For those who can't travel, livestream channels will be clung to for dear life. This is a win for everyone, and we will celebrate it together. We are all African Giants. Coachella, let's rise!

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(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)

Burna Boy to Donate Proceeds from Upcoming Show In South Africa to Victims of Xenophobic Violence

The "Africans Unite" concert is slated for this November, and the bill also includes Jidenna, Kwesta and more.

Burna Boy will return to South Africa for the first time following the recent the spate of xenophobic violence against Nigerians and other foreign African nationals.

In the height of the violence in September, Burna Boy vowed to never return to the country. Major Nigerian artists including Tiwa Savage cancelled appearances in the country, and echoed sentiments calling on the South African government to take adequate measures to protect foreign nationals. "I have not set foot in SA since 2017. And I will NOT EVER go to South Africa again for any reason until the SOUTH AFRICAN government wakes the f**k up and really performs A miracle because I don't know how they can even possibly fix this," he wrote on Twitter. A radio station in Zambia even banned music by South African artists from their airwaves following the violence.

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Burna Boy in "Omo"

Watch Burna Boy's New Music Video for 'Omo'

Burna takes things to the "Giant Club" in this new music video for one of the standout tracks from African Giant.

Burna Boy comes through with the new music video for "Omo," one of the standout tracks from his stellar album African Giant.

The afro-house indebted tune, which was produced by Mr Kleb Beatz, gets an appropriately nighttime music video that follows Burna to a "Giant Club" and a peep show booth, among other locations.

"Omo" is the latest in a long string of outstanding singles from African Giant that have gotten the video treatment, following the likes of "Gum Body," "Killin Dem," "Dangote," "Another Story" and more.

"Oh I'm not done yet!! OMO video out now on all platforms," Burna Boy wrote on Instagram.

Watch Burna Boy Play a Live Rendition of "Anybody" For 'okay acoustics'

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Image by Kabelenga Phiri.

Check out 'AKANTUNSE', a Visual Celebration of African Mythology

The speculative photo series by Zambian collective Kabumba, re-imagines nine significant figures in African mythology, cosmology and folklore.

Kabumba is a Zambian collective based in Lusaka that curates African visual art that seeks to push the limits on existing narratives within African art. AKANTUNSE is Kabumba's latest project—a fun and speculative photo series which celebrates nine figures in African mythology, cosmology and folklore.

We reached out to creative director, Chanda Karimamusama, who worked alongside photographer Kabelenga Phiri and make-up artist Mary Mthetwa, to find out what how AKANTUNSE came together.

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Afripedia is the Visual Platform Connecting African Artists to Their Clients

The newly launched platform wants to foster a strong community of African artists on the continent and in the diaspora.

Afripedia is live! The curated visual platform, which was created by Swedish production collective Stocktownfilms aims to do away with misrepresentation within the creative industry and connect African creatives to their clients by giving them increased exposure. The platform comes five years after an initial 5-part documentary series which focused on creatives in Angola, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya and Senegal.

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