According to Wargo/Getty Images for Roc Nation
Just a few years ago, when Burna Boy performed in DC, he drew a huge crowd of about 2,000 people. Earlier this month, when he arrived in town, it was a sold-out arena with more than 20,000 screaming fans.
At Capital One Arena, fans told NPR why it was so important to them to see a Nigerian artist recognized on this global level and about him being a performer. how wonderful.
Dayo Ajanaku said: “Whatever you hear tonight, you’ll be like, ‘Damn. This guy – he got it. He’s who he is. He’s who he is'”, Dayo said. Ajanaku said.
Burna Boy broke records worldwide. He was the first Nigerian artist to sell out tickets for Wembley Arena in London and Madison Square Garden in New York. His latest album, “Love, Damini”, named after his birth, is the highest charting Nigerian album in history.
He also recently produced Black River: A documentary about whiskeya short film about his hometown of Port Harcourt, Nigeria and the environmental problems there.
Burna Boy spoke to NPR about his relationship with fans, his home, and how he understands who he is as a person and who he is as a performer.
This has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
About the relationship between Burna Boy and Damini
I mean, for a long time, I thought they were different people, but I realized that they were the same person. I realized they were the same person, that made it possible for me to use it to its full potential, you know?
About how personal and vulnerable his music has become, and what he hopes fans will take from it
For me, it’s very – how do you say? Do you know when you are relieved of a burden, like a burden has been lifted off your shoulders? I don’t know the words to describe it, but that’s how I feel. It feels like I feel lighter every time I do that to people… I want them to know that, man, they’re not perfect, and neither am I. And that’s okay. And one more thing I want them to take away is a sense of self, you know? Like, a sense of pride in oneself.
About the pressures to represent something bigger for his fans, as a Nigerian artist who has reached this level, and whether this feels like a burden or not. No
I mean, yeah, it can feel that way sometimes. But when I think about it deeply, that’s what I thank God for, you know? Something that pleases me and I thank God for that is really who I am. That’s who I started doing this with in the first place. So I feel the mission is accomplished. And I’ve always wanted to be, like – everyone who listens to my music or comes to my shows or whatever to resonate with what they see and hear, you know? I want to feel like they see and hear themselves, their own souls. I just want them to see that I didn’t do it, you know? That’s them. That’s what belongs to them.
About whether there’s a song in “Love, Damini” that speaks to his heart
If you’ve ever heard my voice up there, you’re hearing my heart. I don’t make music where you can choose a favorite. You know, ‘This is one. Oh, this is…” No, everything is part of my soul, part of who I am, and part of my experience in life.
On his documentary, and meeting the residents of Port Harcourt
The people who ended up with the worst – you know, the people who were basically forgotten by everyone, by the government and by the powers that were and, you know, just forgotten – for me, That’s the part that really breaks me down the most, to see that there are actually people who have been forgotten.
It’s almost like my people are superheroes, man. Like, no matter what, we still find a way to put a smile on our faces, man, even when we’re supposed to cry all day.
On whether he’s afraid of losing fans when writing about social or environmental issues, like pollution in Port Harcourt
I have no problem losing fans because of that. Anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable hearing the truth – my truth – has no reason to be my fan.