This past summer, the Nigerian pop hybridizer Burna Boy released African Giant, his fourth album and, quite possibly, his global breakout. Burna Boy isn’t yet as huge in the US as he is in much of the world, but he already commands a certain level of attention and respect. And he’s now ascended to point where he can sing his songs on American network television.
Last night, Burna Boy was the musical guest on The Tonight Show. This wasn’t his first American late-night appearance; he was on The Daily Show a few months ago. But it might’ve been the biggest platform he’s yet had in America. Burna Boy sang a medley of “Collateral Damage” and “Anybody,” two of the songs from African Giant, and he carried himself as the star he is.
Burna Boy’s not a determined-to-please showman, though he does have better dance steps than most of his Western peers. And his Tonight Show performance wasn’t a huge production. (The one big touch was the light-up fluorescent bars all across the stage, which changed color when the songs switched over.) Instead, the real power in his performance was in the grace and confidence he has onstage. He already knows he’s a star; he doesn’t much care whether you’ve figured it out or now. Watch the performance below.
African Giant is out now on Spaceship/Bad Habit/Atlantic/Warner Music.