BY EMMANUEL DARALOYE

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Burna Boy is in the news again. The recent Grammy winner has been on the receiving end of backlash after his homecoming concert in Port-Harcourt, Rivers state, over the weekend.

As expected, the music star was the guest of Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers. Burna Boy was being honoured for his Grammy win and heroics in the global music landscape that has continued to bring the state recognition.

Beyond the reception and homecoming concert, the music act was also bestowed with Distinguished Service Star of River State (DSSRS) — the second-highest honour in the oil-producing state.

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While we are not sure on how much he charged, there are insinuations that it was in the region of N100 million. The fees of artistes are usually in secrecy in the country therefore no one can verify this claim. While addressing the audience, the governor promised every artiste that performed at the event the sum of N10 million each.

In a poverty-stricken country like ours, the governor’s gesture has sparked mixed reactions, especially considering the development appears to contradict the ‘Ye’ singer’s activism posture.

Burna Boy is regarded in some quarters as African Giant, a self-proclaimed title. He has been championing this narrative since the release of ‘African Giant’, his 2019 album, and it gained exponential attention in the weeks preceding the release of ‘Twice As Tall’, his last year’s project.

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All major interviews were used to sell the narrative of him being a fighter for the oppressed and the weak but a good industry student knows these were all gimmicks to sell his brand to the western audience, win a Grammy award which he finally did.

Beyond all these gimmicks being perpetrated by Burna Boy, he was just playing a well-written script to the general public.

Burna Boy is a commercial artiste and as such money comes first while every other thing is secondary. The whole “my people die and corruption talk” are all for sonic pleasure. Just listen to the record, enjoy yourself and move on but Nigerians can’t do this.

Nigerians — who are the biggest supporters of artistes like Burna Boy and others — have been played for long. They get carried away with the music, expecting the artiste to walk the talk. These are unrealistic expectations, the ticket meal of these artistes are in danger if they do that.

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Shows would stop, tours would be cancelled, ambassadorship deals would be terminated, they all know what’s good for their brand.

Burna Boy had done nothing wrong by accepting the offer of Wike to honour him. He just replicated what others have been doing — which is to fight for the masses in the morninga and dine with the government in the night.

Emmanuel Daraloye is a music journalist and a pop culture curator.

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