Burna Boy is the latest Nigerian music act to be featured in Fader Magazine, following Wizkid’s feature just last week. In his interview with the music mag, the dance-hall act disclosed that the Nigerian music industry is all political.
How did you get started?
In 2010, [I] got signed to this label that was just starting up called Aristokrat Records. Started dropping singles and then I got quite big in the south side [of Nigeria]. I was like a hood star [laughs]. In 2012, I dropped a song called “Like To Party,” and that just took me all over the world. Started getting endorsements and now I’m good. Dropped one album, sold 50,000 copies on the first day. In Nigeria that’s quite big.
Who are your influences?
Music-wise obviously number one is Fela Kuti. My granddad used to be his manager. My dad used to play reggae and Afrobeats. Every Sunday, we used to have these records, vinyls. And he would just play all of them—Super Cat, Ninja Man, Buju Banton. On his side, I heard a lot of reggae and dancehall. He doesn’t even know it but he influenced reggae into me. The first reggae song I heard was in his car. I remember he bought a V Boot—a Mercedes, old school—and it was one of the first cars that could play CDs at the time. The first CD we had was a mix of all different types of dancehall. And then I turned ten years old and this girl I was trying to get with gave me a Joe CD for my birthday, which introduced me to R&B. I’m pretty much a product of my environment.
Would you say your sound is different from other Nigerian artists?
I kind of brought back everything you hear now. I kind of started all this shit, all the dancehall sounds. My genre of music is called Afro-Fusion because I fuse different types of music into a ball. There’s dancehall, there’s R&B, there’s hip-hop, there’s Afrobeats—that’s all that makes Burna Boy, really. Everything you see right now is really a photocopy of Burna Boy. While it works for some people it doesn’t work for others.
How do you see the [Nigerian music] industry as a whole?
It’s political, man. To be honest I don’t really feel like I’m a part of the industry. I don’t get awards because the powers that be don’t really like me. I’m not like everyone else, I won’t do what everyone else does. They don’t like it. Everything is really political and I’m not a very good politician. So I don’t really involve myself in all that. I just drop hit songs, and my fanbase keeps increasing.