Burna Misses Grammys but Still African Giant
By Dipo Omoware
The wait is finally over!
Benin Republic and African legend, Aangelique Kidjo beat Nigeria Act, Burna Boy to win the Best World Music Album Category for the 62nd Grammy Awards.
But, the measure of Burna’s rise came to the fore as Kidjo dedicated her award to the Nigerian superstar.
“Four years ago, I told you on this stage that the new generation of artistes coming from Africa will take you by storm,” Kidjo told the audience at the Grammys.
“The time has come. This is for Burna Boy,” she declared.
Burna Boy is among those young artistes coming from Africa that is changing the way our continent is received.”
If you ask anyone today “who is the African Giant?” I bet six out of five persons would say Burna Boy.
You probably wouldn't have gotten that answer a year ago. In fact, whoever you spoke to might have said “are you talking about the 'Giant of Africa'” and probably told you Nigeria.
But that is not the case today. From an infamous criticism of how his name was written on the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival poster to the title of his fourth studio album, Burna has taken the term 'African Giant' for himself ahead of any other resource that might come out of Africa and we cannot complain because he's earned it.
“Burna Boy is among those young artistes coming from Africa that is changing the way our continent is received,” Kidjo declared to the world at the 62nd Grammy stage.
She wasn’t wrong!
Born on the 2 July 1991 as Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, Burna Boy is no new comer to the Nigerian music scene.
His meteoric rise on the international scene however might take you as a surprise if you've not been paying attention to the 'Afrobeat to the World' mantra.
On the back of a very successful 2018 which saw his third album 'Outside' ranked as one of the best album of 2018 locally by critics and magazines, the 'Ye' singer started 2019 on a good note.
He was billed on January 3 to perform at the Coachella, he won ‘Best International Act’ at the 2019 BET Awards on 24 June (an award his mum had to collect for him as he stepped out to get a drink).
In July of last year, he was part of Apple Music's Up Next Artiste program and this got him a couple of notable traction including a performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, a Beats 1 interview with Julie Adenuga and a short documentary. He was a guest artist on Beyoncés ‘The Lion King: The Gift’ and was the only artist with his own track on the soundtrack album.
In November, he clinched the Best African Act at the MTV EMA Awards. This was on the same night he had a sold-out show in at SSE Arena, formerly Wembley Arena in London. He also sold out the O2 Arena. With the former, he holds the record for first Afrobeat artist to sell out the 12,500 capacity arena. It was in the same month that he was nominated in the Best World Music Album Category for the 62nd Grammy Awards
2019 was not all about laurels and accolades. Apart from the Coachella meltdown, Burna Boy was also caught in the tensions that sparked in the wake of the xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in South Africa. He and South African rapper AKA exchanged words and at a point Burna vowed to never set foot in the Southern African country again.
So it came as a surprise when he was billed to perform at the Africans Unite Concert holding in South Africa. This never happened though; concert organisers cancelled because it seemed the social media 'beef' went beyond texts and emojis. There were significant threats directed at the artistes and organisers and this had to be taken seriously.
There's no doubt in the average music lover mind that 2019 has (and indeed the past 5 years) been Burna Boy's. The African Giant has not disappointed in the least bit and he looks poised to remain on the scene for a while longer. Here's hoping more good music comes Gbona singer.
He may have lost the Grammy’s to Kidjo, but Burna is still an African Giant,
All hail Burna, the African Giant!
Additional report by Ufuoma Egbamuno
Pics via @burnaboy