In this exclusive interview with NET, Burna talks about his music, future collaborations with American singer John Legend and more.
Take us back to how music started for you.
I’ve been into music since I was born; when I was young I used to sing hip hop and stuff. Professionally, I started in 2010. I started with two mixtapes, one album, a bunch of singles and collabos.
Why did it take you this long to realize that this is what you want to do?
It didn’t take me 3 years, but as they say ‘Na condition make crayfish bend.’ I’m from Port Harcourt and there, music is not what everybody sees it to be, nobody really cares about music, so my music suffered because of where I came from, from 2010 – 2012 when I actually blew. In 2012 I moved to Lagos. I said all these things in ‘Yawa dey’ because Lagos is the place where music actually lives. Maybe if I was born and brought up in Lagos I would have been a ten year old artiste by now.
Tell about your song ‘I like to party’.
Well, that was the point; I moved to Lagos and at the time we were recording it we were already planning to move to Lagos, but we had some issues, and how the video is, is similar to what happened.
Are you planning a second album soon?
I could drop my album tomorrow, I just have a bunch of material but I can’t tell you when I’m dropping.
Did you ever at some point change your label; because there were reports you did so.
There’s always going to be [rumors]
So you’re still with Aristocrat?
At which point, and with which achievement will you tell yourself yes you’ve made it?
[When I] win a Grammy.
Your grandfather used to be Fela’s manager
And he would never let me sing another song apart from Fela.
How do feel about being in the ‘Best New Act’ category at the MAMAs?
Well, they haven’t done it in four years and so they’re judging from 4 years ago and I’m only three years old in the game, so if that’s new, I better win.
So do you consider the fellow nominees your competition?
At all, I would have said Uhuru but his is not well known
How about Phyno?
Phyno na my man now ‘Alobam’ but right now na war zone, Phyno na Igbo so na Igbo people go vote, but we na universal.
If you win this, how many awards would you have won so far?
I’ve actually never counted it before; you’ll be the first to know as soon as I do so.
Did you ever think you were going to succeed as much as you have?
Of course. I knew there wasn’t anyone badder than me so I just knew it was going to work out, but as far as the album, I didn’t even expect it to do well. I didn’t really care about it, but it ended up selling 50,000 copies the first day. In Nigeria, albums have been stepped on; they don’t do anything for you.
After the Felabration ceremony, there was a lot of criticism coming your way. How did that make you feel?
It just made me feel that people were not as smart as I thought they were, and it probably made me one of the best performers in the country, those are the two things it made me realize.
How has success changed you as a person?
It hasn’t changed me at all; it just made me smarter as a person and made me appreciate life more.
You’ve said you’d prefer international collaborations to Nigerian ones. Why is this?
I didn’t say I wasn’t into, I said I haven’t gotten someone that will suit my kind of music.
For your kind of music, which international artiste do you think would work well with you?
I’ll say John Legend.
Which of the awards has been your favorite so far?
NEA, because I wasn’t even there and I won.
Do awards really mean a lot to you as an artiste?