Nigerian reggae-dancehall singer and songwriter Burna Boy is locked in a war of words with his Kenyan fans after he lashed out at them for complaining that his weekend show in a Nairobi club was a flop.
He engaged in an exchange with several fans, but it escalated after he called them "peasants" and threatened to "block your whole city before I let you violate". This inspired the hashtag #BurnaBoyBlockChallenge with Kenyans on Twitter (KOT) blocking him in return.
Burna Boy’s tiff with his fans began when Kenyan soul singer Anto Neosoul went on a rant on Twitter on Sunday, the day after the performance.
“You wanna bring in Burna Boy to perform at top dollar yet there are many Kenyan artists who could perform way better than that ‘diva’,” he wrote about the Club Privee show in Westlands, Nairobi.
While some fans said they enjoyed the show, others lamented the six-hour wait for the artist, who showed up past 2am and performed only after 3am.
The truth is that Burna Boy walked right into Nairobi’s latest gripe – that event organisers bring in ‘international’ acts at the expense of local artists. They pay them a lot more than they do Kenyan artists, even when these foreign musicians have disappointed one too many times and their Kenyan counterparts have delivered better performances.
Neosoul said he was glad that these ‘international acts’ were failing and that Kenyan artists were respected by foreign brands. He compared the Nigerian artist’s performance to that of a leading Kenyan band, which was also taking place in Westlands. “Yesterday, H_Art the Band shut down the Alchemist Bar as Burna Boy waltzed into a club at 4am,” Neosoul.
Burna Boy responded: "Lol failure *ss nigg*z. You want to be respected? Start taking yourselves seriously and everyone else might."
Just last month, Kenyan artist Victoria Kimani, who is signed to Nigeria’s Chocolate City, decried the lack of support for local artists and asked local brands and event organisers to use Kenyan talent.
“Riding around Nairobi, seeing billboards on top of billboards of these shows, why are none of us headlining? Why does it have to be this way? Year after year we constantly place every other country, city, town above our own.
“That a few of us have to leave Kenya and be seen on stages with that wide Africa reach, what the hell would I do if I didn’t have those opportunities? I’d sit here and either throw my own concert or wait to be some so-called ‘opening act’ for less than ksh200K while we watch them make $50 000-$100,000 right in our face!” she wrote.
Kimani said Kenyans should borrow a leaf from countries like Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa, which supported their own. Today, Neosoul announced on Twitter that he and Kimani would organise a concert called JazaStadium (fill up the stadium) where an exclusively Kenyan line-up would attract 100 000 people.