Nigerian music star Burna Boy and Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti made Rolling Stone’s ‘Greatest Singers List’, which began in 2008.
Rollingstone, one of the world’s leading music publications platforms, released a list of 200 who they claim to be the greatest of all time.
The publishers claim that the singers were judged on originality, influence, catalogue depth, and the breadth of their musical legacy.
Published on New Year’s Day, several notable American singers, from Aretha Franklin to Kelly Clarkson and Toni Braxton, were included in the list.
They wrote, “In all cases, what mattered most to us was originality, influence, the depth of an artist’s catalogue, and the breadth of their musical legacy.”
Rolling Stones placed the Nigerian artiste at number 197 position. They described the ‘African Giant’ as an “ambassador of Afrobeats as a global movement”.
“He is the ambassador of Afrobeats as a global movement that can feel equally at home climbing the European charts and maintaining a subtle emotional connection with past African genres,” they wrote.
Commending his voice, they wrote, “Burna’s voice is sweet like caramel, but it can also soar on slickly produced tracks like his recent megahit ‘Last Last’ or the 2019 gem ‘Anybody’ excited by deep bass accents and insanely sophisticated polyrhythms.
“His vocal lines find inspiration in everything from hip-hop and R&B to hooky pop and dancehall. The world is his playground,” they added
On Fela Kuti, the publication described the late icon as an innovator noting “Fela Kuti’s iconic songs of the 1970s and 1980s are sprawling orchestral instrumentals, an innovative swirl of African highlife, American soul, and Jazz.”
He ranked 188 on the list.
Describing his political influence through his music, they wrote, “through his music, he shared an anti-colonialist, Pan-African vision and challenged Nigeria’s corrupt military government, which routinely subjected him and those around him to immense harm.”
“Yet it wasn’t just Fela’s lyrical rebellion that makes him so important- it’s the way his voice carried his vision; the way he sang, his tone commanding and direct, plain and firm,” they added
“His stern but conversational melodies made his movement more accessible. On 1986’s ‘Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense’ where he tackles whitewashed education and failed governments, he coos, ‘I say, I sing, I beg everyone to join my song’. And he performed in such a way that they could.”
The list spanned several nationalities and genres, had Aretha Franklin at the number one spot, and other new generation artists like SZA, Frank Ocean, Lana Del Rey and others appearing on it.
A slew of writers “compiled the encompassing 100 years of pop music as an ongoing global conversation,” Rolling Stone noted.