Burna Boy’s Night of Glory at London Stadium: He Did It For Us All
At this point, there is hardly any superlative to describe Burna Boy with that he’s not deserving of. His astonishingly talented, ridiculously audacious, fantastically prescient; and brothers and sisters, if he says he’s the greatest of all time, he has earned a right to feel that way. His most recent concert at London Stadium is the stuff of dreams. The football stadium where the Premier League side West Ham United plays sits 80,000 spectators on match day but was condensed to 60,000 for the concert. Every single one of those tickets was sold, and the arena was filled to capacity.
The more incredible part is that there was no doubt that he would have a capacity crowd: he expected to, and fans knew that if anyone could, Burna Boy had proven that he was the one. At the end of the show, fans were singing on their way out, a testament to the electrifying experience they had just had. Perhaps only football fans can relate, and even at that, West Ham hasn’t had the type of game that would make their fans sing as they exited. It didn’t even matter that only seven miles away at the Tottenham Stadium, Beyoncé was holding her concert. The number of attendees? Only 40,0000.
The beautiful thing about being a millennial is that people like us were there at the beginning of this Afrobeats journey when telecommunications companies and alcohol and tobacco brands were the sole backers of concerts like this. When 2face and Psquare started selling out stadiums and arenas all across Africa, it felt like we had reached the apex of our music and culture. People used to pass out on sighting them, and nobody else on the continent could compete.
This time, Burna Boy is unquestionably leading the African music takeover of the world, and he’s doing it on his terms. Every show is an improvement on the last one, and once he sold the first 20,000-capacity arena in Europe, he aimed for 25,000 and then 40,000. Sixty thousand, though… having an attendance of sixty thousand is on another plane – especially when he had done 40,000 in Paris only two weeks before. His Love, Damini tour is proving historic not just for him but for African music.
— London Stadium (@LondonStadium) June 4, 2023
One of the things that Burna Boy has been criticized for in the past is how he often declares that he’s the G.O.A.T. and that he’s breaking barriers that other artistes may have similar success. Right now, that’s no longer a declaration; it’s simply a statement of fact. Significant milestones such as the London Stadium show to prove that African music is not a fad or a passing vibe; African music is as essential as the other genres revered globally. That Burna is doing it is a feat that all of us should celebrate. It might be his name on the marquee and the earnings an addition to his network, but from a cultural standpoint, the moment is for all Africans, particularly Nigerians. In the words of the legendary Weird MC, we own this vibe.
Later this month, my book on the artistry of Burna Boy will be released. The crux of the entire thing is how he’s creating a path through his performances, locally and internationally. There’s an intentionality about how he approaches his career. The first step is owning the narrative of how he wants to be known among fans and tastemakers. He has succeeded in doing that. He also has developed a knack for having the right partnerships. Such partnerships have shared determination to advance Afrobeats globally, e.g. Afronation, Cokobar, Shopsydoo and Michael Tubes Creations. These names will be at the forefront when the music compels the world to zero in on the history, legacy, and accompanying culture and lifestyle.
Another step he took in elevating his craft is the deliberate positioning of his brand. Right now, Burna is a global superstar who happens to be Nigerian. I have long argued that our stars should be on equal footing with their foreign contemporaries. On the night Burna Boy bested Beyonce in their London concert derby, it’s fair to say he’s doing it for all of Africa.
Lastly, stay updated with all you need about African music at S.O.A. right here.
Images from the concert