/ 11 September 2023

Burna Boy is certainly telling them

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GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Burna Boy performs on the Other stag during day four of Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm, Pilton on June 25, 2022 in Glastonbury, England. (Joseph Okpako/WireImage)

“I told them I’m a genius; I had to show them what the meaning is.”

Starting your new album I Told Them with that line is more than a boast. Burna Boy has the facts and fans to back it up, with the 32-year-old Nigerian musician having long ascended to global superstardom.

There’s the 2021 Grammy for his fifth album Twice As Tall, the numerous other awards from across the world, multi-million album sales, the packed stadiums — he recently became the first African artist to sell out the 80 000-capacity London Stadium in the UK.

The eagerly awaited I Told Them, which was released on 25 August, is Burna Boy’s seventh album. It features guest appearances from Dave, 21 Savage, Seyi Vibez, J Cole as well as the Wu-Tang alumni GZA and RZA.

The latter two are an indication of how Burna Boy has widened his palate with the new record. 

Alexis Petridis wrote in his review in the UK The Guardian: “If you judge an album by its quantity of hooks or its prevalence of bulletproof songwriting, you are in luck: I Told Them is exceptionally rich in both. Curiously, its most obvious influence seems to be not the stars of 21st-century hip-hop, but the Wu-Tang Clan: GZA and the RZA perform brief spoken-word pieces, while the album is liberally sprinkled with the sound of punches being thrown and flying kicks hitting their target, ripped from old kung fu films, a Wu trademark.”

Judging by the reviews, the album is going to be one of 2023’s biggies. 

“Overall, I Told Them is not only more memorable and focused than its expansive predecessor, but it’s his strongest album yet. Whichever mood he’s in, Burna Boy creates pure magic here. A genius, indeed,” says New Musical Express.

African Folder reckons: “I Told Them is a remarkable album that further accentuates Burna Boy’s spot as one of the most dynamic and gifted African artists of his generation despite being on the verge of a seeming self-destruct.”

His local fans have a show to look forward to on 23 September at Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium, Africa’s largest. It’s capacity is 94 736 to be precise. A full house could be one for the record books.