Nigerian Afrobeat star Burna Boy captures the sound of now on Outside | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Nigerian Afrobeat star Burna Boy captures the sound of now on Outside 

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click to enlarge Burna Boy

Burna Boy

Alex DeMora

There’s little overlap in the Venn diagram that connects Drake and Fall Out Boy, but one definitive commonality is that they’ve both worked with Nigerian Afrobeat star Damini Ogulu, better known as Burna Boy; he contributes vocals to Fall Out Boy’s recent Mania and claims he wrote five tracks for Drake’s More Life, of which one was selected and largely reworked for the album (his lone contribution remains uncredited). Both Drake and Fall Out Boy have established track records of partnering with fast-rising acts or superstars—the former has been accused of being a culture vulture too many times to count—and it makes sense that they’d both find roads to Burna Boy, whose sense of pop is so universal it could move the entire world. He calls his sound Afro-fusion, which he told Interview magazine is “basically like a pizza. With Afrobeat as the base—the dough—and everything else, the pepperoni and all that, that’s the reggae, the dancehall, the R&B and hip-hop.” But where pizza toppings simply coexist on top of the pie, Burna Boy blends global genres so well with Afrobeat that each element becomes even stronger; witness the dancehall pulse of “Sekkle Down.” That track appears on Burna Boy’s recent Outside (Atlantic), which runs like a Now That’s What I Call Music! compilation. Even if you’re unfamiliar with these songs, their placid percussion, effervescent melodies, and easygoing grooves create the kind of atmosphere that makes the album feel familiar on first listen.   v

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