Burna Boy shared his vision of a united African diaspora during a recent appearance on New York radio station HOT 97. The Nigerian Afro-fusion star video-called into the studio amid promotions for his recently-released, Twice as Tall. Released in August, the 15-track record was executive produced by Bad Boy Records mogul, Sean “Diddy” Combs.
While speaking to the hosts, Burna Boy revealed that Diddy executive-produced the entire album from his home in Los Angeles while Burna Boy was quarantining at his London home.
“It was actually quite interesting. He’s a legend. I mean, he’s a larger-than-life guy, you know? That was a real experience for me especially because we had to do it all over Zoom like we’re doing now. So, imagine nights and nights of this,” he said. “Puff will be in a studio, and then we’d be on Zoom. It’s wild. We had to kind of create the same environments in different places at the same time.”
During Burna Boy’s interview, HOT 97 host Ebro Darden asked the 28-year-old to clarify what differentiates Afrofusion from Afrobeats.
“Afrofusion is me. I created it. The same way Afrobeats is Fela Kuti, he created it. There’s a difference,” Burna Boy noted. “We go about things rather very differently. It’s a different genre. Really, it just comes from Africa as well.”
Ebro followed that up with a question to bring attention to recent criticisms from African artists who feel music from the continent is being lumped under the Afrobeats genre.
“‘It’s not fair to just join everybody into [one genre],” the “Ye” artist added “It’s almost like putting hip-hop, R&B, and dancehall in the same category. It doesn’t do justice to what’s really going on, you know? But at the same time, man, it’s like we have to start from somewhere.”
To further his point, Ebro noted how Burna Boy has been using his music and platform to build a bridge between the various communities of the African diaspora.
“I feel like if I don’t do it, then who will? I’m someone who is always known that the only way to achieve victory is to come together. Divided, that’s how we’ve always been conquered. Because of our division. That’s the main source. To this day, it happens anywhere we go,” the singer-songwriter elaborated. “We migrated to the Americas, even though it was unwillingly. We migrated to the UK, Europe, and everywhere we go, we still have problems with our brothers across the street. There’s problems, there’s gangs fighting against each other. Before, it was tribes against tribes. It’s been the root of our problems from the beginning of time. It’s beautiful because diversity is always beautiful but at the same time it's a weakness.”
Ebro agreed that cultural differences shouldn’t lead to animosity between communities across the African diaspora.
“Even apart from all of that, we should look at everything we’ve been through. We’re all victims of the same suffering, no matter where we are in the world,” Burna Boy continued. “So why not just come together and solve them? ‘Cause we all have them and these problems are bigger than whatever problems you have with each other.”
Later into the interview, Burna Boy spoke of his love for Naughty by Nature, whom he named a track after on Twice as Tall. He shared that the first song he knew how to sing as a kid was the trio’s 1993 classic “Hip Hop Hooray.”
“That’s what I grew up on, he said. “So, it's something really sentimental to me. I wasn’t even five. I was like three or four. I would go on tables when I had any opportunity. My mom took me out, I would climb on the table and start rapping and stuff.”
Check out the rest of the interview below to see what Burna Boy had to say about using his music to speak on current issues in Nigeria below.
(Photo: Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images for BET)