Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, known popularly known as Burna Boy, is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, rapper, and dancer. He was born in Lagos in 1991. and began making music at the tender age of ten years old when His Classmate gave him a copy of the production software FruityLoops. Armed with these, He began making his own beats on an old computer. He graduated and moved to London to attend university, but He soon dropped out after two years and moved back to Nigeria.
In 2010, the 19-year-old Ogulu traveled to Nigeria’s southern coast, where a mutual acquaintance, producer LeriQ, had some studio space. This marked a period when he began to connect to the music of his native country, having spent most of his youth immersed in American acts like DMX. He delved into the dancehall and reggae music his father listened to, and explored the Afro-beat music preferred by his grandfather (who had also been Fela Kuti’s first manager). As a result of his new discoveries, Ogulu created a confluence of genres that would become his signature sound.
He rose to prominence in 2012 after releasing his hit single “Like to Party”, the lead single from his debut studio album L.I.F.E (2013) which was released on 12 August 2013 under the platform of Aristokrat Records received generally positive reviews from music critics. The album sold 40,000 copies on the first day of its release. The album’s release was preceded by five singles: “Like to Party”, “Tonight”, “Always Love You”, “Run My Race” and “Yawa Dey”.
In 2014, Burna Boy split from Aristokrat records and in February 2015, founded the record label Spaceship Entertainment. Burna Boy soon released his second album On a Spaceship on 25 November 2015 but did not get as many rave reviews as his first album.
In his interview with New York-based magazine in December 2015, The Fader, Nigerian dancehall exponent, Burna Boy articulated his thoughts on the music industry: “It’s political, man—To be honest, I don’t feel like I’m a part of the industry […] I don’t get awards because the powers that be don’t like me—I’m not like everyone else.”
Burna Boy’s struggles in the Music industry persisted as He failed to enjoy the acclaim He craved despite an initial period of the remarkable success, Many cited this to His loner personality as well as Him often being associated with Controversies; with Him angrily exiting the 2013 Headies Award Gala shortly after losing out to Sean Tizzle in the Next-Rated Category.
Burna Boy released his third studio album Outside on 26 January 2018 which was supported by six singles: “Rock Your Body”, “Streets of Africa”, “Koni Baje”, “Sekkle Down”, “Heaven’s Gate” and “Ye”
Although Outside debuted at number 3 on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart in February 2018, the Album did not enjoy much local recognition until later that year in June when Popular American Hit-maker Kanye West released His 8th Studio Album “Ye” and social media users revealed there were instead finding Burna Boy’s 2018 jam Ye when they tried searching for the Album on online Streaming Services. Burna himself shared a tweet days later thanking Kanye West, He wrote: Thank YE!! Numbers up 200%.
The album subsequently received positive critical acclaim and Burna Boy continued His fine form with the release of Hit jam “Gbona” in September 2018 Burna Boy was undoubtedly unstoppable in 2018 as He ended the year with another Hit Solo titled “on the Low” which was a nice mid-tempo love song with a fusion of Afrobeat and very subtle dancehall heritage.
Burna Boy’s fourth studio album African Giant was finally released on 26 July 2019. It was supported by six singles: “Gbona”, “On the Low”, Killin Dem”, “Dangote”, “Anybody” and “Pull Up”
African Giant enjoyed rave reviews with its crux being the idea of tracing all blackness back to the wellspring in line with His Mother’s BET Awards acceptance speech. Most Critics described the Album as a splendid hour of jams, strongly sociopolitical and personal; saying it was more cohesive, more robust in sound, and significantly broader than his previous music.
Burna Boy’s fifth studio album, Twice as Tall which featured international acts such as Stormzy, Youssou N’Dour, Naughty by Nature, Chris Martin of Cold Play was released, executively produced by Diddy and “Mama Burna” Bose Ogulu.
Following the fine showing and review of His debut studio album “L.I.F.E.”, Nigeria Entertainment Today ranked the album 10th on its list of the 12th Best Albums of 2013, In August 2013, it peaked at number 7 on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart and earned Him nominations for the Headies Next Rated Category with His “Like to Party” jam also getting nominated for the Best R&B Single.
It subsequently won Best Album of the Year at the 2014 Nigeria Entertainment Awards with Burna Boy also getting nominated for Best Pop Artist of the Year, MTV Africa Music Awards Best New Act Category, and another four(4) nominations in the 2014 Headies
In 2015, He hooked up with AKA on the “All Eyes on Me” single which also featured Da L.E.S, JR and this single went on to win Best Collaboration and Best African Collaboration at the MTV Africa Music Awards and the All Africa Music Awards respectively.
The next few years were relatively quiet until the release of “Outside” which despite it’s initial struggles went on to be ranked by Pulse Nigeria and Nigerian Entertainment Today as the best Nigerian album of 2018. It won Album of the Year at the 2018 Nigeria Entertainment Awards. Its biggest single “Ye” ended up atop most Nigerian publications’ year-end list as the biggest song of 2018 and On 7 October 2018, He went on to perform before a sold-out crowd at London’s O2 Academy Brixton. Two days later, He was announced as one of Spotify’s New Afro Hub Takeover Artist. The announcement coincided with him being named YouTube’s Artist on the Rise for 3 months.
On January 3, 2019, he was announced alongside Mr. Eazi as one of the artists performing at the 2019 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. However, Burna Boy’s response to the announcement on social media came with pessimism as He was in disapproval of the fonts in which his name was written and demanded more respect as an “African Giant”. He used the opportunity to furthermore throw a hint on His Africa Giant project which was slated to be released later that year. Two days later, He won four awards at the Soundcity MVP Awards Festival, including African Artiste of the Year, Listener’s Choice, Best Song of the Year (Ye), and Best Male MVP.
On 24 June 2019, Burna Boy beat Nigerian Acts Mr. Eazi and Teni Makanaki, and other African Acts to win the Best International Act at the 2019 BET Awards. Bose Ogulu, the musician’s mother and manager accepted the award on his behalf and In her acceptance speech, She said the message from the singer to every African in the diaspora is “remember you were first an African before any other thing”.
The following Month, Burna Boy was announced as an Apple Music Up Next artist and He soon recorded “Ja Ara E” (Yoruba: “wise up” or “use your head”) for Beyoncé’s The Lion King: The Gift. He was also the only guest artist with their track on the soundtrack album which was released on the 19th of July, 2019.
Sequel to the release of His fourth studio album, Burna Boy went on a spree, winning numerous Local and International Awards; including 3 at the 2019 Headies for Song of the Year (Ye), Best Collaboration (killin dem ft. Zlatan), and Artiste of the Year. He won Best African Act at the 2019 MTV Europe Music Awards, Future Award Prize for Music and Future Prize for Young Person of the Year at the Future Awards Africa, Song of the Year (“Killin’ Dem” ft. Zlatan), Best Collaboration, Artist of the Year and Best Male West Africa at the African Muzik Magazine Awards, West African Male Artiste of the Year and Artiste of the Year in Africa at the All Africa Music Awards, and African Artiste of the Year at the Ghana Music Awards.
Burna Boy’s fine form with International Awards continued when His African Giant Album was nominated for the Best World Music Album at the 62nd Grammy Award in 2020. However, Beninese Music Legend Angelique Kidjo eventually marched on to win that Her 4th Grammy Award in that category.
On April 18, 2020, Burna Boy performed two songs during the One World: Together at Home special while bringing attention to some of the measures that African citizens are taking to protect themselves and their community amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In the same month, He has announced the winner of the Best International Act at the BET 2020 awards ceremony which was held virtually due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.
The album became his highest-charting project, debuting at number 1 on the Billboard World Albums Chart.
On the 28th of October, at the 15th annual BET Hip Hop Awards, Nigerian artist Burna Boy gave a politically charged performance of “Monsters You Made,” his single with Coldplay’s Chris Martin.
On The 24th of November 2020, ‘Twice As Tall’ was Nominated under the World Music Album category in the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards alongside other entertainers like Antibalas, Bebel Gilberto, Anoushka Shankar, and Tianariwen. This was His second nomination in a row in that category.
He subsequently won an Edison award in the World Album category for African Giant, and the Best International Act at the MOBO Awards on December 9, shaking off stiff competition from Drake, Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Baby, and Roddy Ricch.
Burna Boy′s ″Destiny″ from African Giant Album was included in the playlist at the Inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States of America on the 20th of January, 2021.
On the 14th of March 2021, His Star finally burned brighter as He emerged the winner of the Best Global Music Album award at the Grammies for his album ‘Twice as Tall’, a first for a Nigerian as a solo artist. This was following His catchy performance at the closing of the Grammy Award Premiere Ceremony where He used the opportunity to showcase His rich African Heritage.
About 2weeks later, Burna Boy was hosted to a Homecoming Concert in His hometown of Port Harcourt by Rivers State Government where He was conferred the title of Distinguished Service Star of Rivers State (DSSRS) which is the State’s second-highest official award given in recognition of exceptional service or performance in any field of human.
In April 2021, in response to a Fan on Twitter, Burna Boy hinted at August 2021 for the release of His 5th Studio Album to the excitement many fans; fondly called “Outsiders”.
Whilst this project is not released yet, His Fans and Critics alike surely will be staying abreast to know what next for the African Giant, maybe beating the likes of The Weeknd, Bruce Springsteen, Childish Gambino, and Tame Impala to the ‘International Male Solo Artist category of the Brits Music Award or even another Grammy nomination come later in the year. Irrespective of the outcome, the top is where you’ll surely find the Twice as Tall African
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