One of the defining hits of this summer has been Byron Messia’s crossover, breakout smash, “Talibans”. Fusing dancehall and Afrobeats for a sound he describes as “dance-soul”, it was an undeniable blockbuster and it wasn’t long before a sequel followed with Afrobeats king Burna Boy.
Naturally, the song spawned plenty of debate and contention online. The usual battle lines between West Africa and the Caribbean were drawn as both sides tried to claim it as their own.
Calling Burna in for the sequel seemed like an obvious choice from the start. For us fans, it seemed natural for a Jamaican/St. Kitts artist making an Afro-dancehall hit to want someone to represent the Afrobeats side, but as Messia explained to our Editor-In-Chief, Joseph ‘JP’ Patterson, in the inaugural episode of Complex UK’s new series ON A LEVEL, there was another reason for him to invite the African Giant to boost “Talibans II”.
“Well, you know, when the track was on the edge of being so major, Burna Boy was one of the people that I saw was actually showing it love on the internet... Even before ‘Talibans’ dropped, me and management were like, ‘Yo! It would be dope if Burna Boy was on it.’ Believe it or not.”
“We had this show back home,” he continues, “a music festival. I performed as well. We weren’t performing on the same night but [were on] the same bill and we connected. It was just energy from there. They’ve also got a billboard at home for me, as you come [into] the airport in St. Kitts. It’s saying “Talibans” 26 million plus… I don’t if that inspired him a bit too [laughs]. But no, it was just more of a brotherly love, still. It wasn’t even an artist to artist thing, like, “Oh, that’s an artist I wanna do a song with.” It was a different energy and vibe.”
The new version proved just as successful, scoring millions of streams and plenty of acclaim, helped in no small part by its inclusion as the bonus track on Burna Boy’s latest album, I Told Them…, which is out now.
You can watch the full episode of ON A LEVEL: Byron Messia here.