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28 year old Damini Ogulu popularly called Burna Boy is at the moment, probably one of the biggest artistes to have come out of Nigeria.
With a style of music that incorporates Dancehall, Afrobeats and Rap, Burna Boy dubbed The African Giant has taken not just Nigeria and Africa, but the world by storm. Born in Port Harcourt, his family showed a huge appreciation for good music, with his grandfather Benson Idonije, a well respected journalist who managed the career of the legendary Nigerian singer Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
In 2002, his breakout track “Like To Party” became a nationwide hit and a party anthem played in clubs all over the country. Ever since then, Burna Boy has been on a steady rise although not without some controversy. Starting out with Aristokrat Records and an album produced by the very talented Leriq, Burna Boy stayed true to his style and didn’t try to move into the more commercially acceptable sounds other Nigerian artistes were part of.
He’s had a lot of negative rumours trail him which have for the most part remained rumours. In fact there was a particularly heinous one which claimed he was banned from entering into the UK, because he was implicated in a stabbing in London.
Burna never publicly acknowledged the rumours and in 2018, he collaborated with Brit pop singer Lily Allen on a track called Heaven’s Gate, also featuring a video which reportedly was shot in England. That was the only response needed to lay the rumours to rest. In the same year, he gave an outstanding performance at London’s 02, selling out the venue to a crowd which basically did all the work as they sang all through Burna’s set.
In 2019, Burna Boy was scheduled to perform at Cochella, one of the biggest music festivals in North America. The o my other Nigerian performer invited to perform was Mr Eazi. The controversy started when Burna’s name was written in very small fonts, and he took to Instagram to ask them to increase the size of his name as he is The African Giant. He was mocked by Nigerian and African social media users who thought he was getting too big for his boots. The irony is Janet Jackson did the exact same thing and recreated her own flyer for an event just last year when her name was put in a very small font.
Burna Boy had his performance at Coachella, but it was his mother and Manager Bose Ogulu’s speech at the BET Awards in 2019, that got the whole world buzzing.
Burna for some inexplicable reason was not on stage to accept his award for Best International Act, and Momager Bose gave a rousing speech about African Unity. Everyone was curious about her, but even more curious about the son who won the award and was at the venue, yet didn’t come on stage to accept it. His music became more searched for on the internet and celebrities like Rihanna could not get enough of The African Giant.
Talk show host’s in the US from breakfast hosts like Sway, to late Night hosts like Jimmy Kimmel wanted a feel of the energy of The African Giant. The wave was sweeping all across the world and all of a sudden, the artiste who was mocked by his countrymen for calling himself African Giant were singing his praises after realising the world was in love with Burna Boy. Burna Boy in top form, also went on to win the MTV Europe Best African Act award in November last year. He is currently nominated for a Brit Award for International Male Solo Artiste.
Late last year, it was announced that Burna Boy has been nominated for a Grammy in the category of World Music Album. He joins the league of Elite Nigerian artistes who’ve been nominated in this category like King Sunny’s Ade, Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti, who was nominated just last year.
The Burna fever intensified and Burna Boy was on a high. In January 2020, Burna Boy took another step up the Ramos as he was sitting at No 1 on the UK singles chart with British acts Stormzy and Ed Sheeran. The song “Own It” is the UK’s first No 1 of the year.
Burna Boy has a very strong chance of clinching this award, although he has to face an obvious obstacle in the form of 3 time Grammy winning singer and humanitarian Angelique Kidjo.
Burna Boy has put in the work, he’s been very consistent from 2012 till date and has made a huge brand for himself, regardless of the rumours which had affected his career at different stages.
His music is well recognised and accepted by different demographics, and at 28 he is just getting started.
Yes, Burna Boy absolutely deserves this Grammy win, and more to come.
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