Pulse Opinion: On Burna Boy, Coachella and the needless matter of fonts

Burna Boy is fighting a battle with Coachella where there is none [BukiHQ]

Earlier on Thursday, January 3, 2019, the organizers of one of the world's most celebrated music festivals, Coachella announced the complete line up of performers for its 2019 edition.

With the likes of Childish Gambino, Ariana Grande and rock band, Tame Impala announced as headline acts, Nigerians were excited as two of its own in Burna Boy and Mr Eazi were also listed to perform on the Coachella stage, which will be held over two weekends in April.

But while Nigerians were celebrating this feat, Burna Boy had a bigger concern on his mind and that was with the character or font with which his name was written on the Coachella advert.

In the post on his Insta story [Which has since been deleted, allegedly by his team], Burna wrote, "@coachella I really appreciate you. But I don't appreciate the way my name is written so small in your bill. I am an AFRICAN GIANT and will not be reduced to whatever that tiny writing means. Fix things quick please.''

This soon snowballed into a really big deal with Burna Boy becoming a trending topic all day on Nigerian Twitter.

Is this really worth being a big deal though?

The reactions on social media have been far-ranging and explosive, for lack of a safer word. While a section of the fans were angry at Burna Boy's anger, deciding that his grievance was built off uninformed bias, there was another section that supported his outburst.

A look at Coachella's roll-out in the past will point at the poster font being more of a tradition for how they have always announced their line-up of artists.

''Coachella considers three things - social media presence, record sales, and what the most popular kind of music is at the time'' concert organizer, Paul Tollet explains in a 2017 interview with New Yorker.

He further states on the issue of fonts, "We have so many arguments over font sizes [on the poster]. I literally have gone to the mat over one point size. Sounds like a small thing in the great scheme of life. But, as it relates to these bands, it's huge."

Burna Boy missed the point. His demand for better recognition is not a case of Black or White, African or American artist, it is simply a case of the bigger you are globally, the bolder your name becomes on the top tier lines. It is a game of numbers and not colour or race.

Coachella, which is in its 20th edition this year has kept the same format for its posters — the bigger bands/headliners are placed top in bigger fonts, going all the way down to lesser names and even scribbles of bands you’ve never heard of, simply based off who is a big draw or not. Outside the African continent, Burna is not yet that much of a big draw

Either way, lower font or upper, there is actually no downside to this as performing at Coachella is a big deal for any artist.

This false sense of entitlement

Even though he claims it is not, it is hard not to see it as one. With little success comes a big chip on the shoulders of the average Nigerian artist, one that expects to be worshiped or granted access to the topmost places because a hit songs bears his/her imprint.

Burna Boy was one of the biggest contributors to the explosion of the Nigerian pop scene in 2018 and in many ways, he has duly earned his plaudits.

From getting recognized by a number of notable platforms as the Nigerian artist of the year to the success of his headline concert and performing at major end of the year events, Burna is getting reward for the work he put into the music over the last 12 months and is poised to continue to enjoy the benefits of that run this year, with more good music, but more especially if he keeps his brand off negative headlines.

So when Burna comes out to cast a shadow of unfairness on Coachella’s reputation, where there is none, he is not fighting for any rights or equality, he is simply swinging a sword from a place of limited understanding and a false sense of entitlement.

While we yet await the grand press conference that he has promised, this really is a non-issue, not worthy of the uproar or debate that has ensued in its aftermath.

Burna Boy has seen his worth rise and this has earned him a place on the Coachella stage, a festival that was predominantly set up to cater for rock bands, but has expanded its vision over the years to allow for inclusivity, making it possible for buzzing pop artists to showcase their art on the grandest scale.

There is a bigger picture here, one that already places Nigerian music on progressing the path of global acclaim that it has enjoyed through the likes of Davido and Wizkid in recent years, let's not lose sight of that in the 'battle' for the inconsequential fonts.

He has the option of going ahead to deliver a stellar performance, turning the platform into a moment that will leave his name on the lips of the over 100,000 music lovers that will attend the festival or simply decline, be the ''African Giant'' and stay back home.

So which will OluwaBurna choose this time, to be the bigger artist in front of the global stage, or to be the bigger font?

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