As Afrobeats continues to rise in prominence both stateside and abroad, Burna Boy has been the Afrobeats artist at the forefront of the movement. Earlier this year, he became the first Nigerian artist to headline a US stadium after also headlining the NBA’s All-Star Game halftime show and J. Cole’s Dreamville Festival while demand for his guest verses skyrocketed among contemporaries like J Hus and Byron Messia.
His popularity is such that J. Cole even compared him to Tupac. Sitting with the Rap Radar Podcast, Burna recounted how he ended up in the studio with J. Cole and a group of “tall as hell” basketball players, where the North Carolina rapper said, “This n****’s Tupac reincarnated in Africa” after hearing Burna “going off” for a few minutes. The bashful Burna says he shrugged off the comparison, but it wouldn’t be totally unfounded.
J Cole – “…This Niqqa is 2pac reincarnated in Africa…”
— BURNA BOY STATS (@BurnaBoyStats) August 31, 2023
Although Burna hasn’t talked about it much recently, he’s been a proponent of the “One Africa” movement and refused to perform in South Africa for political reasons in 2020. Meanwhile, like Tupac, he’s been outspoken about authoritarian abuses, best embodied in his video for “Monsters You Made.” The two artists’ shared Pan-Africanist views are likely what prompted Cole to make the comparison, although they also share similar cultural impact and popularity as well.
The results of Burna and Cole’s collaboration will can be found on Burna’s new album I Told Them…, out now via Spaceship Records and Atlantic Records.