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Burna Boy Singer captures the moment of his darkest ordeal in 'Baba Nla'

Some artists have mastered the art of masking an open message in their music. For some it is unravelled after a while; for others, its deeper meaning is forever lost in the melody.

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play Burna Boy tells his story on 'Baba Nla' (BukiHq)

Burna Boy is what you call an eccentric talent, a musical genius walking with the self-destruct button affixed to his hips.

This has been the story of his career since his emergence on the scene. Burna's travails are very well documented, his demons have roared louder most times than his brilliance with his controversy with fellow artist Mr 2kay late in 2017 leading to one of the biggest dents in his career.

The aftermath of that event snowballed into a series of unpleasant fallouts.

First, he was declared wanted by the police, which led to him getting charged to court, the cancellation of his headline event in Lagos and a subsequent dip in his career at the time. Even though he has tried to hide the reverberations of the incident under his thick tattooed skin, that period hurt him and Burna has not shied away from talking about it.

ALSO READ: We deserved more from Burna Boy's 'Ye' video

play Burna Boy on stage at his LOTO in the US (Bukihq)


He subtly shared his thoughts on the event in his song 'Heaven Gate' featuring Lily Allen, but it is on the recent record, 'Baba Nla' by Larry Gaaga featuring himself alongside 2face and Dbanj, that Burna went into the confession booth and bared a lot more on the saga.

'Baba Nla' is more than just a record, it is way deeper than that, more like a Dan Brown book with symbols and signs leading to a destination. It is a two-part movie and caught in the side attractions, many failed to follow the script.

Larry Gaaga's most potent talent can be tied to two ends, his ability to spot a good beat and his gift in identifying the right artists to fit into the song, his clout to be able to now assemble them which he has earned over the years is just an added advantage.

And this he put to use on the song, bringing together three of the biggest names in the industry in D'banj, 2face and Burna Boy on a DaPiano beat, same producer responsible for 'Gaga Shuffle.'

play Burna, 2face, Dbanj and Gaaga on the set on 'Baba Nla' (Youtube/LarryGaaga)


The song is special, from D'banj bringing back the harmonica, opening the song with that classic 'Tongolo' riff, the rich Afrobeat sound, Burna's delivery and 2face's spiked vocals, the trio delivered an infectious record.

But while it is easy to get lost in its rhythm and melody as it bangs loudly through your speakers, the song is peppered in a captivating storyline and it is those rare moments when you lay in an isolated space, speakers plugged to your ears and the volume turned low that you get it, like the lyrics hit you and you jump up screaming like you just cracked the world's biggest code.

Here is my attempt at decrypting the message in 'Baba Nla'

Verse 1: The opening scene

''Disaster, Disaster... no grammer,  cos we no cooperate, me say no comment, your honor... them say them dey find me for the corner, make you tell them say you no see me, cos Edgal Imohimi got me praying with my rosary, paranoid totally, scaring everybody close to me, my neighbours too fu**ing nosy.''

Burna addresses a number of issues in the opening verse calling the whole situation a disaster, then he seemingly talks about how the police went about the manhunt that led to him being invited to the station where he was docked and his refusal to comment.

He then name-drops, Edgal Imohimi, the Commissioner of Police for Lagos State who was in charge of the entire debacle and he superficially throws jibes at his neighbours, who he described as 'nosy.'

Verse 2: The Play

''Don't let them lie to you and bluff, tell them say, Gangsta, no wear handcuff...''

It was reported that throughout the ordeal, Burna refused to be cuffed and he seemingly holds this as some form of moment of pride.

''I no say Larry Gaaga cover me''

This line seems to suggest that while a lot of his industry friends and colleagues deserted him, Gaaga was one of the few who stood by his side.

2face's Verse: The elder stateman words of wisdom

play 2face Idibia plays the role of the elder stateman in 'BabaNla' (Cable)


''Babanla nonsense, I go dey do my Gaga Shuffle dey avoid arrest, e get as them go dey do, I no go give them face, I go dey kuku just dey waka dey arrange my space, I go dey enter the city with happiness.

''I go dey gather all the people in togetherness, I go keep a cool, make I no go vex... make sure say I dey mind my business, because crazy people everywhere and I no like stress.''

It is no coincidence that 2face mentions 'arrest' more than once in his verse, he wasn't just rhyming, he was directly referencing the situation.

2face is one artist whose career has enjoyed its fair share of controversies, but he remains one of the most influential names on the scene 14 years after the release of his debut solo project, ''Face 2 Face'' and he is more reflective in his verse as he provides some words of industry advice for Burna to abide by.

2018 has been a good year for Burna Boy and it is heartening to see how he has emerged from the whole situation as a bigger artist. In an industry packed with an abundance of talents, Burna's skill in making 'complex or layered music' like showcased on the song, which challenges the listener with every listen stands him out and is one reason why he will be here for a very long time.

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