Sunday, 18 August 2013

An Enigma and ‘Boy’ Who ‘Likes to Party’ Burna Boy Exclusively Sits Down with Youngswaggs Entertainment


In the ‘new school’ of the Nigerian music industry, only a handful of acts stand out as very unique, original and iconic – Burna Boy is certainly one of the them.

Burna Boy‘s rise to fame and critical acclaim was spurned when his record label made the big move to Lagos in 2012 to promote his first official single, “Like To Party”. Although the song itself didn’t pick up immediately, its music video, which has been copied multiple times over by other artistes, sparked a wildfire that solidified Burna Boy‘s place at the top.

Following up his new found fame with more experimental, daring and original hit songs, “Tonight”, “Run My Race” and “Yawa Dey”; spectacular stage performances and exciting collaborations, Burna Boy‘s star continued to go higher.

With his debut album, “L.I.F.E.” out, Burna Boy invited Onos O to the Aristokrat Mansion in Lekki to talk about everything from his love life to his music and fashion. Although a bit elusive, Burna Boy‘s charm shone through as he regularly ad-libbed in his unique slang,  ’I mean’s and ‘you get me’s.

Burna Boy is ‘hot cakes’ for the ladies so my first question is – Are you single?
Yeah, man.

Are you looking for a Mrs. Right?
Not really, man, I’ve just dropped an album… I don’t have time for that (laughs).

After keeping your fans waiting for so long, your debut album “L.I.F.E.” is finally here. What’s up next for Burna Boy?
Obviously the tours… if you drop an album, you should go on tours to promote it so that’s pretty much what’s going to come next. You’ll see a couple more videos, in fact – a lot more videos. I’m trying to shoot a video for every song so we’ll see how that goes.
Burna Boy (1)
Apart from Nigeria, where will you be visiting during your tour?
It’s going to be a worldwide tour. In a month to come, I’ll be in a lot of African countries, Europe, Canada, America, you get me. I’ll be all over the place, you get me. Shout out my official DJ, Jam Jam, we’ll be running these tours together.

From your debut album and singles out, you pay homage to a lot of different artists and explore different genres. As such, your sound is very original but diverse so, what genre of music does Burna Boy make?
I mean, I came into the game making my own genre because you can’t really put your hands on where the music comes from, whether it’s from Hip-Hop originally or whatever. So, I created my own and called it Afro Fusion because I tried to mix a lot of different sounds, a lot of unheard of sounds with Afro beat so that’s pretty much what my sound is and what my sound’s about.
Burna Boy (4)
Your grandfather, Benson Idons, used to be Fela’s manager. How has that influenced your music?
That’s definitely my biggest influence on my music. To have that kind of influence, it shows on the album.

Do you have any other influences?
Fela Kuti – number one; Sizzla Kalonji – number two. The people I put on my album cover. You’re smart to have noticed that. (The other people on his debut album cover are King Sunny Ade and Bob Marley).
Burna Boy Life Cover
What’s the concept behind calling your debut album, “L.I.F.E” (Leaving Impact For Eternity)?
The album is called “L.I.F.E” for a reason. It’s not just ‘leaving impact for eternity’ but ‘Life’; it’s me putting my life out there for your entertainment so everything about the album is real, pretty much.

So far, you’ve had a few collaborations here and there, both on and off your album. Who else are you looking to work with in the future?
In the future, I’ll work with Future (laughs) or work with Sizzla, all sorts… we’ll see.
Burna Boy (2)
You have a lot of tattoos and they are easily one of your identifiers. What inspired you to get your first tattoo?
It’s me, man, you get me. It’s a decision that I made.

Are there some of them that mean more to you?
Every single one of them is very significant to me because everything on my body is a story so it kind of represents who I am. That’s what tattoos are all about, really – representation of one’s self artistically. I’m a big fan of art.
Burna Boy - August 2013 - BellaNaija
What you describe yourself as a fashionable person?
Hell yeah! I mean, I feel like I’m in my own lane in every aspect, especially fashion. For example, I wear Versace shades, now everybody wears Versace shades. You know the whole rocking of print shirts and bringing back the 90’s and now, it’s just catching on. So, may be one day I’ll change it to like… futuristic and then, everyone will be doing it. You’ll see, you know. Never though, I won’t go to Will.I.Am’s extent though (laughs). That’s just a different n****.

What would you never be caught wearing?
I don’t know – something that doesn’t look good.

Do you have any style icons?
SHABBA RANKIN! Yeah, Shabba Ranks.

How would you describe your style of fashion?
Men, it’s me, men.
Burna Boy
Let’s go back to the beginning because a lot of people don’t know the start. Who is ‘Burna Boy’? {click here} How did you get into music?
I’ve been in music pretty much all my life, you get me. It’s something I’ve always had love for. I didn’t necessarily know I was going to do it but, at a point in my life, I just knew that this was it. It was very early but obviously, distractions and stuff like that… but, when you have a destiny, it always comes back to you so that’s pretty much what happened with me. I was in the UK so I just came back and here I am.

When did you start doing music professionally?
I signed to Aristokrat Records in 2010 so that was kind of when it really kicked off for me. We hustled a bit from 2010 and then 2012, from PH moved over to Lagos and here I am you get me.
Burna Boy
Your record label, Aristokrat Records was initially based in Port Harcourt. What inspired the move to Lagos?
I mean, it’s not something you have to be told twice. Port Harcourt and Lagos are two different worlds entertainment-wise, musically and in every form of the word, you get me. And, in the entertainment business – I mean, if I was doing oil or something, Port Harcourt would be a better bet for me but I’m doing music so Port Harcourt is not exactly the best place for that. So, we moved over to Lagos and look at me now. If I was in PH and stayed there, you probably won’t be interviewing me right now.

What was the experience like for you schooling in England?
It felt like it was forever. You know what I’m saying; imagine you’re in school forever – that’s just wrong man (laughs). And then again, I just felt like that because that wasn’t in the plan for me.

Did you finish your high school in the UK?
High School? Of course I finished high school; it’s just the whole university part that took the backseat.

When was the first time you ever smoked?
Men, I don’t smoke now.
Burna Boy Street Style - BellaNaija - June2013005
What was the first ever song you made?
Hmmm… in my life? (pause) I can’t really remember because back then, I didn’t really make complete songs, I would just record verses or just spit some stuff on beats for my guys. The first song I actually recorded was called “Robbery”. It was on the beat of “Step Back” by Freeway featuring Lil’ Wayne.

You’ve been in the game for about three years now and you’re finally making the impact you set out to do. What did you do differently that sets you apart from all the other acts out there?
First and foremost, music – I mean, I make music, you know what I’m saying; not for fun, not for a hobby, not for a part-time thing. I make music innit? (laughs) And, that’s kind of what sets me apart.
Burna Boy
Will we be seeing you branch out into any other industry – acting or even outside of entertainment?
Of course, obviously oil and stuff. I’m trying to own an oil block. I mean, that’s my aim but… we’ll see.

You’re one act with a lot of nicknames. Tell us some of them.
I don’t even know where to start. They call me Burna Boy aka Burna Versace aka Burna Rankin’ aka Burna Goldie aka OluwaBurna aka Burna Ibile aka Burnanikulapo Kuti aka… Them plenty na.

What do you love the most about the music industry?
Being able to do what you love and get paid for it.
LNPDEST9JA-NNEKA-ON-STAGE-WITH-BURNA-B0Y-LIVE-JAM-SESSION-30_12_12-SURULERE-SHOW
By this time next year, where do you hope to be?
Twenty times bigger than I am now.

Do you have any celebrity crushes?
None at the moment… outside Naija, I haven’t thought about that, may be Rihanna. Nah! Rihanna’s now somehow sef (laughs). Mehn, I don’t know again oh. Everyone has broken my heart (laughs).

Has a girl ever dumped you before?
A very very long time ago, yeah.

What caused the break-up?
I can’t even remember. I think I cheated or something but I really can’t remember. I think it was even her sef (points to a beautiful girl seated in the room).
Burna Boy (1)
There was a rumour going around earlier this year that you got stabbed while you were in England. Confirm or deny.
Well, I don’t know if I can confirm that. It’s a rumour obviously. Many times they don try – I get like six scratchy scars but no one enter na (laughs).

If you could have one super-power, what would it be?
Aww mehn! Flying! Just being able to fly… anytime just ‘whoosh!’ - fly. Trust me man. Do you know how long I’ve been wishing for that?

Tell us some of your bad habits.
I eat at odd hours of the night. 4 O’clock in the morning, I’m hungry.
Burna Boy June 2013 - BellaNaija
With promotion for your debut album under way, when should we be expecting a next album or new music from Burna Boy?
My next mixtape is going to drop at the end of the year or at the beginning of next year. As for the next album, who knows? As soon as you guys digest this one, I’ll hit you with something new.
It was great chatting with Burna Boy and from Youngswaggs Entertainment, we wish him the very best!
Leriq - Burna Boy's producer
                                             Leriq – Burna Boy’s producer

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