From gathering an audience in 2013, to building all the way through to a Grammy award and multiple nominations, selling out more arenas than any African artiste and pushing Afrobeats culture to incredible heights, this is us making a compilation of Burna Boy’s evolution – covering his sound, branding and milestones.
L.I.F.E – 2013
Burna was deep in his bag with this album. How can a new artist have four timeless bangers in their debut album when it’s not witchcraft? From “#Yawadey“ to “Like to Party”, to “Tonight”, to “Abeg Abeg”. Every single one of those songs will forever have us in a chokehold.
This album was the first time Burna displayed his ability to consistently create timeless bangers, which still appears to be one of his greatest strengths till this day.
On A Spaceship – 2015, Redemption – 2016
In comparison to the others, these two projects didn’t do too well, but Burna kept at it and the album that followed these two blew up. While these projects are not his most popular bodies of work, he did experiment a lot with his craft and he displayed a great deal of range. Also, they gave us “Soke” and “Pree Me” respectively so ‘nothing spoil’.
Outside – 2018
This album was a serious turning point for Burna’s career. It was the beginning of the nation-wide recognition he now has. This sound was deeply authentic, unapologetic and creative.
It took Burna from being a talented Port-Harcourt boy that people knew of, to that artist who had honey in his music that the whole nation couldn’t get enough of. This album is what turned him into an African Giant. “Ye” quickly became our national anthem and we, as a country, battered that song to death.
African Giant – 2019
By the time this came out, it had become normal to expect hot albums out of Burna Boy. But some might argue that this is still the best of Burna to this day, but it was so much more than just a great album.
While his music has changed over the years, the one thing that has stayed constant is Burna’s commitment to tackling social issues in his music and this album went hard with that. Burna wasn’t playing with anybody with songs like “Another Story” and “Collateral Damage”.
Twice As Tall – 2020
This album saw Burna’s sound changing to accommodate a more Western audience. Now this one sparked some controversy because people didn’t want their African Giant diluting his sound to accommodate or appeal to anybody.
People liked it for the most part, but it awakened a sense of caution in Burna’s existing African fanbase that lingers to this day. People like knowing that they can trust an artist to be authentic and not sell out but this album changed that. This album was the first time many people started looking at Burna with a bombastic side eye.
Love, Damini – 2022
This album came out with an even more diverse sound than the last one. It has many more International features such as JBalvin, Kehlani, Khalid, Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Till date, Burna still displays incredible range which one might argue is another reason he’s able to collaborate with so many different kinds of artists – local and international.
Some argue that we shouldn’t so violently bind Burna to one particular sound as artists should be allowed to grow and evolve. Others feel a sense of loss with the evolution of his music as it seems to be evolving for a specific reason—to garner international recognition.
Whether or not the desire for this is a bad thing is entirely up to your discretion. Is it a bad thing to desire to be recognized internationally? Want to play at the highest level? How much room for change are we willing to allow an artist before we lose respect for them?
Image: The GRAMMYs.