Ladies and gentlemen, we must admit that it will be difficult to find a remotely average Burna Boy feature.
Burna Boy is currently the face of Afrobeats. The Grammy-nominated superstar was always talented, but it took him a little bit of time to truly reach the level of superstardom peculiar to some kings and a queen from his 2010 generation – the 2010 new guard in Nigerian music.
But through the years of walking out of The Headies or being the singer with trouble in his step, he never stopped impressing both his stans and neutrals with some eclectic tunes, While some of those tunes are Burna Boy’s own songs, he made some of them for other artists as a featured act.
When he finally found his pocket in 2017, he became unstoppable as he absolutely aced everything in sight.
Ladies and gentlemen, we must admit that it will be difficult to find a remotely average Burna Boy feature. However, some Burna Boy features are better than others. Some are also album cuts while others are singles – which means impact will differ. This article will rank Burna Boy’s best 10 performances as a featured artist.
Here is our criteria;
- The song must be a single.
- The quality of Burna Boy’s performance [not pedigree of the song].
- The impact of Burna Boy’s performance on the song.
Before honourable mentions and even though it’s not a single, we salute Burna Boy’s performance on ‘Sunshine Riptide’ by Burna Boy.
Mahalia featuring Burna Boy – Simmer
IDK featuring Burna Boy – December
Show Dem Camp featuring Burna Boy – True Story
Airboy featuring Burna Boy – Aye Po [Remix]
DJ Snake featuring Burna Boy – No Option
Here comes the tornado…
10.) AKA – All Eyez On Me [featuring Burna Boy]
In 2014, Burna Boy basically became as South African as he was Nigerian. If you travelled to South Africa at the time, one Nigerian star you would hear tons about was Burna Boy. The zenith of his ill-fated sojourn in South Africa was this song. From the opening seconds to his hook which defined this song, Burna Boy showed ridiculous hunger.
At the time, he wanted everybody to know he was the man but other artists were just too big. Yet, he made AKA a more familiar face to Nigerians. Basically, he gave AKA his ‘Fela In Versace’ of 2014.
At the MTV African Music Awards the same year, Burna Boy and AKA performed the song before the upstaged French Montana during a performance of ‘Ain’t Worried Bout Nothing.’
Good ol’ days…
9.) Leriq – COMMENT TU T’APPELLE [featuring Burna Boy, Ozone, Dammy Krane and Mojeed]
In 2014, Leriq called the paramedic on Aristokrat Records after an impressive ensemble was created on this song. While Mojeed and Ozone were not as impressive as Krane and Burna Boy, they did themselves proud with their respective rapped verses.
Dammy Krane got into his lamba element and produced a street-friendly hook that ran the streets of South-West Nigeria for the best part of eight months, but Burna Boy was who really stole the show with his vocal range and switch between English, Yoruba and Pidgin. A total madness, this record.
8.) Juls – Gwarn [featuring Burna Boy]
In 2011, British-Ghanaian producer, Julshad produced ‘Feel Alright’ for Show Dem Camp. But it wasn’t until 2017 that him and attractive tag became a thing in a section of the Nigerian sub-mainstream. Alongside other tracks, ‘Gwarn’ played a key role in that identity. It was also one of the earliest markers that this current Burna Boy was going to be unstoppable.
Alongside Wande Coal and 2baba, Burna Boy is one of three Nigerian superstars with a wonderful, expansive sonic palette. On ‘Gwarn,’ he delivered like a Jamaica-bred artist. Between the 19th and 49th seconds of this record, Burna Boy produced a song-defining madness as he discussed sex in vivid albiet, masochist detail. Oh la la…
7.) Jorja Smith – Be Honest [featuring Burna Boy]
Of all the talented British vixens, Burna Boy has made music with Mahalia, Rita Ora and Lily Allen [twice]. While ‘Heaven Sent’ was a major song in Nigeria and it saw what could arguably be Burna Boy’s best performance yet as a recording artist, the Jorja Smith’s 2019 collaborations with Burna Boy titled, ‘Be Honest’ makes this list.
When it came down to it, ‘Simmer’ was placed alongside ‘Be Honest,’ ‘Comment Tu T’apelle’ and ‘Gwarn.’ We discovered that even though Burna Boy literally made ‘Simmer’ an international sensation that even broke into certain Nigerian circles, the madness of Burna Boy’s performance on ‘Be Honest’ from a technique, cadence and delivery standpoint was too immense to ignore.
It was already an uphill task to upstage Jorja Smith’s vocal template, but Burna Boy managed to not be outdone. Then the way he started and ended the verse equals simply amazing.
6.) Larry Gaaga – Baba Nla [featuring 2Baba, D’Banj and Burna Boy]
After Burna Boy had created a Nigerian favourite with D’Banj on ‘Won Da Mo’ some years earlier, they were back in tandem with long-time friends, Larry Gaaga and 2baba. Ladies and gentlemen, it was a match made in hell. Everyone who truly listened to the song was gripped by the throat.
Burna Boy was firmly in his current superstar form at the time, so the song had his element. Again, his technique, flow scheme and ability to ‘chameleonize’ a beat like a rapper would, came to the fore. He manipulated his vocal pitch and delivery in different dimensions before “You know say Larry Gaaga cover me…”
The only problem is that this song should have been bigger than it was.
5.) Dave – Location [featuring Burna Boy]
Let’s be honest, Burna Boy’s hook is arguably one of the major reasons this song was such a hit in England, Dave’s own country. It’s that simple.
What Burna Boy did on ‘Location’ is basically one of his best hooks ever. He showed greater understanding of the Afro-swing production and a savvy delivery on a level that Dave could only dream.
4.) Skales – Temper Remix [featuring Burna Boy]
2015/2016 was the height of the pointless social media trolling that Skales got on Twitter NG. He needed something to truly mark his entry into stardom, especially after his move to Baseline Records. He had released the Afro-fusion ‘Temper’ in the final quarter of 2016 and even shot a video for it.
The Krizbeatz production was truly exemplary and it needed someone with a true Afrobeat background to define it. Enter Burna Boy, who was also going through some extra-musical issues and bad PR at the time. He mixed Fela with Burna Boy and the song abridged demographics. Yes, it also became a smash hit.
A second collaboration titled, ‘Gbefun’ dropped. It was equally as good, but it was never as big.
3.) Master KG – Jerusalema [featuring Burna Boy and Nomcebo]
Master KG’s ‘Skeleton Move’ was a huge cross-over song in Nigeria for what Nigerians thought was ‘Bode Thomas.’ The original ‘Jerusalema‘ was then released in December 2019, but it only featured Nomcebo.
Then in June 2020, a remix featuring Burna Boy drops. Asides howBurna Boy absolutely tore the song into shreds with Nigeria-peculiar terms like “Woro si woro” and speaking Zulu, the song literally took off after this version dropped.
By September 2020, ‘Jerusalema’ was used in a Cristiano Ronaldo video and it became the most-shazam song in the world.
2.) DJ Spinall – Gba Gbe E [featuring Burna Boy]
Only the Burna Boy performance at number one could displace this song. ‘Gba Gbe E’ is literally one of Burna Boy’s best ever performances. From the way he found different pockets on the beat to his vocal manipulations, his language switch and Daddy Showkey shout-out to his owambe-esque pocket on 02:29, it was a total perfection.
It was also a great moment for DJ Spinall who had been in underground circles across Nigeria, putting in work.
1.) Phyno – Link Up [featuring MI Abaga and Burna Boy]
This was the moment that every attentive person knew Burna Boy was onto something otherworldly.
In a 2019 article about Burna Boy’s rise to the face of Afrobeats, Pulse Nigeria noted that, ”[Link Up] didn’t truly make a mark until May 2017, but it was a moment that gave everybody a reminder of the range, versatility, dynamism and expansive sonic palette of Burna Boy.”
See ehn, just play the song.
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