Burna Boy's recently released seventh studio album, "I Told Them…", is a victory lap and a reminder of what it took for him to become a global phenomenon.
The 15-track project from the Grammy Award-winning Nigerian singer and rapper, born Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, features a star-studded list of collaborations with artists including J. Cole, Dave, 21 Savage, RZA, GZA and Seyi Vibez.
Since the album's release on Aug. 25, it has made waves on the charts. On Friday, Burna Boy became the first-ever international Afrobeats artist to secure a U.K. No. 1 album with "I Told Them...," according to the Official Charts Company.
After a busy few years of global tours and record-breaking accolades, his seventh album served as an outlet for what it took for him to get this far.
In the final track of the album, "Thanks," featuring J. Cole, Burna Boy asks "Is this the motherf****** thanks I get?", a line some view as aimed at critic responses he's garnered, despite his best efforts at including African culture in global pop culture.
In the cover art for "I Told Them…," Burna Boy leaves a message that greatly summarizes his album: "DON'T COMPLAIN. DON'T EXPLAIN. JUST BELIEVE," a testament to his journey to stardom.
The album contains two tracks he released earlier this summer, "Sittin' On Top Of The World" and "Big 7".
The "Big 7" music video, which featured Wu-Tang Clan's RZA, Busta Rhymes, Junior M.A.F.I.A. and actor Shameik Moore, was filmed in New York City just after Burna Boy's historic performance at Citi Field in July. With that performance, Burna Boy became the first African artist to sell out a stadium in the U.S. He also became the first African artist to headline a London stadium earlier this summer.
Those history-making performances follow the success of Burna Boy's album "Love, Damini," released last year, which was the highest charting Nigerian album in history. The album featured his hit single "Last Last".
Burna Boy, born in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has been credited by many for his globalization of the African-type genre known as Afrobeats. Burna Boy, meanwhile, categorizes his music as "Afrofusion," a mix of afrobeat, hip hop, and dancehall among other sounds.
His career, which has spanned over a decade with seven studio albums and a feature on Beyonce's "The Lion King: The Gift" album, has made him one of the most famous faces of African culture in the Western world.
In a recent interview with Apple Music's Zane Lowe, Burna Boy shared his views on the current state of Afrobeats, critiquing the "substance" in the musical genre.
"Ninety percent of them have almost no real-life experiences that they can understand, which is why you hear most of Nigerian music -- or African music or Afrobeats as people call it -- is mostly about nothing, literally nothing," he told Lowe about artists in the realm. "There's no substance to it. Like nobody's talking about anything, it's just a great time. It's an amazing time."
He continued, "But at the end of the day, life is not an amazing time. No matter how nice of a time you're having now or you had at some point, or you plan to have, you're still going to face life. For me, I feel like music should be that -- music should be the essence of the artist. The artist is a person."
"Me, speaking for myself, the artist is a person who has good days, bad days, great days, and worse days," he added. "And for me, if I give you something like this with my face on it, and my name, then I should be giving you that experience. That should be a window for you to see some of that essence."
While many fans across the world have supported the album, others were offended by the artist's remarks: Disappointed fans stated that the Afrobeats genre is what catapulted his success, while some agreed that the genre did need more "substance."
Earlier this year the U.S. Afrobeats Songs chart hit its one-year anniversary, with Burna Boy charting a total of 28 songs in its inaugural year -- the most charted songs by a single artist in the U.S. Afrobeats Songs chart.
Burna Boy is one of many global superstars unifying the African diaspora across the world through his music. He is currently nominated for best Afrobeats at the MTV VMAs in September. The VMAs recently added the new category this year, following similar additions by the Grammys and American Music Awards.