Burna Boy Heralded as African Dancehall Artiste: Says Afrobeat Has No Substance

Burna Boy’s recent remarks have created ripples in the music world, with many African news outlet positioning him as an African Dancehall artiste while simultaneously offering a sharp critique on Afrobeats. During his dialogue with “Just Being Benny”, he drew parallels between Dancehall and Afrobeats, emphasizing the depth and substance inherent in the former.

Burna Boy critically assessed Afrobeats, noting that despite its global popularity, it often lacks depth and connection to authentic life experiences. He described a dominant trend in Nigerian music, which he labels as Afrobeats, as being largely surface-level. Burna Boy stated, “Literally about nothing. There is no substance to it like there is nobody is talking about anything, it’s just a great time. Just an amazing time.”

Dancehall, epitomized by stalwarts from Yellowman to Vybz Kartel, has woven tales of struggle, love, and societal commentary into its vibrant beats. This genre, rich in Caribbean heritage, has long been a reflection of Jamaican identity, encapsulating both trials and triumphs. Its powerful narratives have reached and resonated with audiences globally, proving the universality of its themes.

In stark contrast, Afrobeats, for all its pulsating rhythms and energy, has faced criticism for skimming the surface. Burna Boy pointedly emphasized its commercial leanings, suggesting it borders on global pop music, often devoid of the deeper essence that African music can convey. He has issued a clarion
call for the genre to be more reflective of genuine African experiences.

Both Dancehall and Afrobeats have left indelible footprints on the global music stage. The former’s global reach is a testament to its authenticity and rich cultural tapestry. Meanwhile, Afrobeats, riding a wave of international popularity, is at a pivotal juncture. The genre has a golden opportunity to intertwine its catchy rhythms with narratives that echo the depth and richness of African heritage.

To sum it up, while Dancehall remains a beacon of culture-rich music, Afrobeats stands at a juncture, faced with the choice to evolve into a genre that is not just danced to, but also deeply felt and resonated with on a global scale. While Burna Boy has played a pivotal role in elevating Afrobeats to international stardom, he firmly believes that music should reflect the multifaceted nature of an artist’s life, encompassing both highs and lows… much like Dancehall.