Art
Sajjad's artwork for "Pull Up" from Burna Boy's African Giant. Courtesy of the artist.

Meet Sajjad, the Artist Behind Burna Boy's 'African Giant' Album Art

We sit down with the artist to talk about the art behind African Giant and his use of currency to creates collages that tell ambitious stories.

"Currency is something that for the most part doesn't exist," Sajjad tells me over a crackling phone line. It would have been hard to hear him if he didn't speak firmly. "It's all about trust. We trust that a bill is worth a certain value. That's what makes it real. It's an interesting duality play on something that's real but at the same time isn't."

This philosophy is what informs Sajjad's art. Using currency, the artist creates collages that tell ambitious stories about unifying countries. In 2019, he created the artwork for one of the best and most important albums to come out of the modern Nigerian—and African—music scene, Burna Boy's Grammy-nominated African Giant.

Sajjad got the idea to start using currency as an artistic medium in 2016, when stopping at a New York City bodega—"these little convenience stores on every corner that sell everything!"—where he saw that they had put up dollar bills on the wall from the first few people who had bought things there. It was at that moment something in him clicked and he realized how many powerful stories physical bills could tell and represent. Inspired by this, Sajjad began a journey of using currency and other mundane everyday objects to create art that tells a bigger story.

We sat down with the artist to talk about designing the album art of Burna Boy's African Giant, the power of currency and what the future holds for him.

Sajjad. Photo: Dan Solomito

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Angelique Kidjo, winner of Best World Music Album for "Celia", poses in the press room during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

Angélique Kidjo Dedicated Her 'Best World Music' Grammy to Burna Boy

"The new generation of artists coming from Africa are going to take you by storm, and the time has come" said Kidjo during her acceptance speech.

Angélique Kidjo just picked up the Grammy award for 'Best World Music' for her album 'Celia,' and she used the opportunity to shout out fellow artist Burna Boy, who was also up for the award.

While accepting her award earlier today, the singer took the time to praise the wealth of new talent coming from the continent. "The new generation of artists coming from Africa are going to take you by storm and the time has come."

Though the World Music category remains a dubious one, Burna Boy's nomination was a major milestone for contemporary African music and the significance was not lost on Kidjo. "This is for Burna Boy, [he] is among those young artists [who] came from Africa [who] are changing the way our continent is perceived, and the way African music has been the bed rock for every [type] of music," she remarked.

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