Article and photos by Robin Shaffer
Hundreds of the most beautiful people you’ve ever seen filled Summit Music Hall on Sept. 4, 2019, to see the Nigerian African Giant sensation, Damini Ogulu, best known as Burna Boy. Although the website for the venue had some conflicting information – such as the time the doors open – the staff was more than helpful and friendly, one member distributing bottles of cold water to those of us who came early and waited longer than usual.
Sound check seemed to be running late, so the doors were opened late as well. DJ’s and opening acts were mostly well received, however it became evident, as one concert goer mentioned, that the evening was proceeding on “African time.” Much like the familiar “soon come” of famously documented “Jamaica time,” it seems to translate to significantly longer timeframes. The tickets and web site said only 7:00, which actually meant the doors, not the show. Burna Boy was slated to go on at 9:00. By 10:20 the packed and standing crowd on the main floor, all venturing out on a weeknight and most having commitments in the morning, started to show signs of fatigue. Ten minutes later, just in time, the fireball of energy and lyrics known as Burna Boy came bouncing out onto the stage, his beautiful mother visible in the background.
Promoting his newest album, the Afrofusion release African Giant, Burna Boy was so full of energy and teachings that the entire venue rose to a screaming level of vibrancy.
Pole vaulting off the drum riser using the mic stand to launch himself, truly engaging with everyone in the crowd, individually reaching out to a crowd that seemed to know every lyric, this man was the sensation we had waited for. He was a phenomenon of dancing, jumping, whirling, kicking, singing and urging the crowd to join in. Say BURNA!
Ye! was a special crowd favorite although most people knew the lyrics to every song. At one point this reporter gave vent to the unconfined urge to call out for Wetin Man Go Do, only to be rewarded with that very same. song. Heaven!
I will leave you to discover the teachments and preachments and consciousness and lessons behind the songs – the history and basis of his processes are worth discovering on your own. I recommend beginning with this new effort, African Giant. As you explore more of his music, you will realize that he doesn’t have one specific genre; he incorporates African music, jazz, Dancehall, soca and more while using his sharp political consciousness to make a message. His dance steps, like his songs, are both ancient and modern. He seems to lose himself in the same euphoria in which he wraps us. He is high consciousness and high energy. His music will make you let go and rejoice. If his lyrics send you on a mission of discovery, he’s done his job. Ye!
Go get the album!
~Robin Leswig Shaffer