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Watch Burna Boy Tell Apple Music About His New Album ‘I Told Them…’, Experiencing Global Success and More

As Burna Boy gets ready for the release his seventh album, I Told Them… later this week, the Nigerian superstar joins Zane Lowe in New York City for a wide-ranging conversation about the making of the album and the journey that led him to the global success he’s experiencing now.

In the conversation, Burna shares the importance of numerology on this album and the 12 jewels to a happy life, what sets the new album apart, being proud of his accomplishments, Virgil Abloh’s influence, looking up to J. Cole, collaborating with RZA, embracing substance in Afrobeats, and more.

Read a transcript of the interview below:

Burna Boy Tells Apple Music What Sets His New Album ‘I Told Them…’ Apart… 
It kind of showed me exactly the way I wanted to express what I was feeling and what my unit was feeling. The spirit of my unit. Just put that in because this is every day. This is a side where people don’t really get to see because I don’t really care for anyone to see. I have fun with it like this. But I felt like this time, this is a way… How do I put it? A more understandable way to pass that feeling and that energy across. And at the same time, showing you that’s… Not you. Showing everyone, really, that the combination of worlds is something that we haven’t really capitalized on. Because at the end of the day, once we’re all unified, everything else, the fruits of that just take care of everything. 

Burna Boy Tells Apple Music About the Meaning of the Album Title… 
…they say a lot of times that prophets is not really recognizing its own home and shit. So this one is for the part of my own home and the people in my own home who didn’t believe or doubt it, or still doubt, or any type of thing. And not just them, it’s like everyone that ever heard me speak in the past or when I’d first started. You can go back to my old tweets and stuff. I basically predicted everything that’s happening now. So this is basically that. It’s fun to tell people something is true, and they doubt, and then they end up seeing it. There’s no greater feeling. 

Burna Boy on the Type of Credit He Wants… 
I’m not going to say I don’t want credit because everyone wants credit for what they do and shit. For me it’s more like I want credit from places where it actually matters. Even though in reality don’t mean nothing but places where you can say why, you can explain and it makes sense to everybody. That’s the type of shit I want. I want to go somewhere where it’s like they see the work and they see everything, the journey and everything, and they’re like, “This is amazing. Yeah, congratulations.” That’s the type of shit that means something. You don’t get that in my country. It means something to the people who are not part of the game in a way. It means something to people who have nothing to gain or lose and no stakes in the matter. 

Burna Boy on Being Proud of His Accomplishments… 
That’s the thing I’ve beat my chest the most about. It’s the fact that, yeah, not only did I do it on my own terms and all that, I did it against all odds. You know what I mean? And against the wishes of the powers that be in my environment. You know what I mean? So yeah, it’s something I’m really proud of. 

Burna Boy Tells Apple Music About Virgil Abloh’s Influence… 
Especially like Virgil was the heart of this s**t. You know what I mean? The heart of the whole fashion world, especially for us Black. Not just that, it’s just the cool creativity in the man’s head. This is the difference. You look at something, he looks at it, you are seeing different colors than each, you know what I mean? It’s crazy. 

Burna Boy Tells Apple Music About Looking Up To J. Cole… 
Burna Boy: Legend, man.  
Zane Lowe: Legend. And someone who I feel beyond just creatively and musically you could possibly relate to in the way he handles himself, lives his life and finds his space to disappear too. Is that part of the law of attraction to his work that you recognize in the individual?  
Burna Boy: Most definitely, most definitely. The truth is often hidden, but when you come across it and you are a person of truth yourself, you can’t help but recognize it. You know what I mean? That’s really the story of me and J Cole. It’s like, I recognize it.  
Zane Lowe: Is that where you’re going, do you think?  
Burna Boy: That’s something I’ve always looked at, his sense and thought, “Bro, that would be a nice, very conducive way to end up.” 

Burna Boy Tells Apple Music About Embracing Substance in Afrobeats… 
…you hear most of Nigerian music, or I’ll say African… I don’t even know what to say, Afrobeats, as people call it, it’s mostly about nothing, literally nothing. There’s no substance to it. Nobody’s talking about anything. It’s just a great time, it’s an amazing time. 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. So it’s like, for me, I feel like music should be that, music should be the essence of the artist, you understand? The artist is a person, like me speaking for myself, the artist is a person who has good days, bad days, great days, and worst days. 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. 

Burna Boy Tells Apple Music About Collaborating with RZA… 
Yeah, it’s been a great honor, man. He wasn’t there. We weren’t personally in the studio together when he did it, but when he sent the first draft to me, I could just feel the energy, it’s like most of the shit is about, he’s connecting things that have to do with photography, shit that has to do with the vision, like photographic shit. And he’s made the whole thing, he combined and interlock and it’s just crazy. 

Burna Boy Tells Apple Music “If I’m Lying” Is His Best Song Yet… 
I feel like it’s my best song ever… It’s spiritual. 

Burna Boy on Fela Kuti…
I am grateful for the fact that he existed in his time so that we could get and experience the true organic nature of what he was and the essence of what he stood for and the message he passed across to us. 

Burna Boy on His First Impressions of New York… 
To me, it looked just like Lagos, only with more tall buildings closer together. The same energy as Lagos. It’s the same… Everybody’s in a hurry. I felt like, “Wow. This can’t be what they’ve been showing me on TV.” This don’t look like TV land… this place is very sentimental for me because starting from PlayStation theater all the way to Citi Field now. It’s been a journey. 

Burna Boy on the Benefits of Traveling the World… 
Man, the more I see the world and the more I experience just makes me understand myself a bit more, understand why things are the way they are a bit more. I just have a lot of answers to a lot of questions I used to have and previously didn’t have answers for.

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