Burna Boy‘s gained global popularity with his danceable Afrofusion tracks. Although ‘Wonderful‘, the first release of his new LP ‘Twice as Tall‘, follows this tradition, his newest album contains other more politically conscious tracks. ‘Monsters You Made‘ for example, is a furious critique of the unjust and (neo)colonial configuration of the world.
The track starts with a prophetic speech extract by Fela Kuti, who foresees the consequences of governmental neglect: “If the government refuse to develop the region/ And continue the marginalization and injustice/ The youth, that’s what coming after us/ And it will be more brutal than what we have done“. Introduced by this extract, the lyrical content of the track is clearly shaped by Fela’s legacy of anti-governmental/ colonial artistry.
In on of the lines, Burna Boy seems to refer to a statement of the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who depicted Nigerian youths as lazy and uneducated (Premium Times): “It’s like the heads of the state/ Ain’t comprehending the hate/ That the oppressed generate“. He points out to unworthy working conditions and the low wages that Nigerians gain: “When they’ve been working like slaves/ To get some minimum wage“. Instead of creating opportunities, the government responds with repressive policies: “You turn around and you blame/ Them for their anger and rage/ Put them in shackles and chains/ Because of what they became”.
Speaking from the perspective of a generation of youths deprived from opportunities, “Monsters You Made” is addressed to the leaders that benefit from a socio-economic order that is build on structural violence and as such creates frustration, aggression and “… the monsters you made“:
“We’re dying as youths
Come walk a mile in my shoes
See if you smile at the truth
See if you digest your food
That’s when you might have a clue
Of what the fuck we go through“
Burna Boy takes issue with the colonial legacy of the Nigerian education system. In a recent NY Times article he is quoted saying: “We’re not what they teach in schools out here, (…) They don’t teach the right history, the history of strength and power that we originally had and that they should be teaching now. They don’t really teach the truth about how we ended up in the situation we’re in. They don’t teach the truth about what’s going on now and how to overcome it. And I believe that knowledge is power.” In the song, he picks the case of Mungo Park, who is said to have “explored” the Niger River, as an example of colonial perspectives still being found in the Nigerian curriculums:
“Because the teacher dem teaching
What the white man dem teaching
Dem European teachings in my African school
So fuck the classes in school
Fuck Mungo Park and the fool
That said they found river Niger
They’ve been lying to you“