Afro Pop

Exploring Burna Boy’s ‘I Told Them’ Album: Music, Message, and Backlash

Exploring Burna Boy's 'I Told Them' Album

Exploring Burna Boy’s ‘I Told Them’ Album: Music, Message, and Backlash


When Burna Boy dropped his “I Told Them” album, it sent shockwaves through the music industry, particularly in Nigeria. This project, shrouded in controversy and surrounded by negative press, was met with skepticism by many Nigerians, myself included. However, after listening to the album, I can’t help but see it from a different perspective. In this comprehensive review, we’ll dive deep into the “I Told Them” album, exploring its music, lyrical themes, and the controversy it generated.

1. Bad Press vs. Good Numbers

The “I Told Them” album was marred by bad press, especially from Nigerian fans worldwide. It’s often said that there’s no such thing as bad press, and the album’s numbers seem to support this claim. Despite the controversy, it has garnered impressive attention and streams. Still, it’s undeniable that this album will be remembered as one of Burna Boy’s most controversial projects.

2. Afro-Fusion or Afrobeat?

This Afrobeat project is often blindly labeled as an Afro-fusion album. Burna Boy samples a variety of sounds and appears to follow the formula he used in his “Twice as Tall” album, incorporating different sounds into his project. While this experimentation is commendable, it sometimes feels like he’s straying from the roots of Afrobeat.

3. Return to Mid-Energy Projects

Before the release of “African Giant,” Burna Boy’s albums had a consistent mid-energy vibe. These projects lacked the electrifying energy that Kel-P brought to the “African Giant” songs. With “I Told Them,” Burna seems to have reverted to this default setting. The party energy remains low, and there’s a noticeable shift away from traditional African percussion towards Western sound. This change might be attributed to Burna’s collaboration with non-Nigerian producers like Skread and Yati Beats.

4. The Excessive Samples and Intros

One issue that plagues this album is the excessive use of samples and intros. These elements, while occasionally adding depth to tracks, often strip the album of its originality. It’s reminiscent of MI’s “The Chairman” album, where excessive features, intros, and outros made the songs feel disjointed and off-kilter.

5. Lyrical Theme: Self-Gratification

“I Told Them” is a self-gratification album, where Burna Boy sings about his greatness, both lyrically and musically. This shift in lyrical themes could be attributed to the backlash he received for not actively advocating for Nigerians despite profiting from songs that addressed Nigerian issues. Now, he’s embracing self-praise, a departure from his earlier work.

6. Unpacking the Tracks

a. On Form: In this track, Burna reflects on how success has changed him. He likens himself to a sports player hitting the best form of his life, winning big but also acknowledging a shift in his character.

b. City Boys: Burna brags about his life in the city, highlighting his loyal fans, swagger, and financial success. It’s a celebration of his status as a city boy.

c. Thanks: This track is a direct response to Nigerian critics and their scrutiny of Burna Boy and his family. Burna gets emotional, confronting the public and media about their judgments and asking if this is the thanks he gets for being a good ambassador for Nigeria overseas.


Burna Boy’s “I Told Them” album may be one of his most controversial projects, but it’s also a testament to his evolution as an artist. While it strays from traditional Afrobeat, it showcases Burna’s willingness to experiment with different sounds. The excessive use of samples and intros can be distracting, but it’s clear that Burna is exploring new creative territories. The shift towards self-gratification in his lyrics may be a response to past criticisms, and it’s an interesting evolution to watch. Ultimately, this album challenges listeners to reconsider their preconceived notions and embrace Burna Boy’s musical journey, controversy and all.


Valentine Chiamaka

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