Nigerian musician Femi Kuti has come under attack by fans of pop star Burna Boy for what they claim is a subtle dig at the latter’s recent Grammy nominations.
In a tweet, Kuti said that music should not be centered around awards or international recognition, and pointed to his father, the legendary Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, who was never nominated for a Grammy.
“Music isn’t really about awards though,” Kuti said, responding to a tweet that hailed him as the most Grammy-nominated artist in Nigeria.
“Fela never won or was never nominated. I don’t think Bob Marley was too. Music is about spreading love, giving people the will to go through the hard times in life, etc and inspiration. Music must bring comfort too.”
He went on to say that his father “never cared about any awards. Never went nor participated. Never believed in them.
“Five times now. Might win one day. But my father would most likely be very disappointed if that was my objective as a musician,” he continued.
However, Kuti’s tweets were perceived as an attempt to demean the achievements of Burna Boy, whose album, ‘Twice As Tall’, was nominated for Best Global Music Album for the 2021 Grammy Awards. He became the first Nigerian artist to be nominated consecutively after his ‘African Giant’ album was nominated in the same category in the last edition.
One fan, summarising the criticisms of many, wrote: “Sorry sir if I in any way insulted you, But I see all of the efforts trying to make the Grammy looks like nothing which hasn’t been happening before in Nigeria, since Burna Boy got nominated people want to come out to preach about it not being important.”
After more attacks, Femi Kuti clarified his initial tweet, saying: “This tweet was concerning saying I have 4 nominations, and all I’m saying is that it’s not the objective. Many GREAT musicians have never been nominated doesn’t mean they are not GREAT. I wasn’t referring to anyone but myself, some have chosen to abuse, or drag others. Pity.”
He continued: “If my music gets recognition by awards, Thumbs up. I believe most of u don’t understand my tweet. Some are attributing it to Burna boy’s nomination. Maybe the tweet is too complex?
“I appreciate my music gets nominated. Just saying as someone schooled by my father and mum it’s not my objective.”
Speaking about his father, Kuti said: Think, most of the greatest artists/musicians today sample him, take from him, but [he] was never nominated. Because he didn’t believe music was about that, and didn’t believe in that process. Like he didn’t believe in making radio play music. And many more other things.”