Nigerian musician, Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, professionally known as Burna Boy has been in the news ever since he won his first-ever Grammy award at the 63rd Grammy Awards held on March 14, 2021, and in this article, we’ll look at how he started doing music and his long journey to winning the prestigious Grammy award. He’s now a Grammy award-winning musician kind courtesy of his professionally produced “Twice As Tall” album.
Burna Boy was born on July 2, 1991, to Samuel Ogulu and Bose Ogulu in Port Harcourt, Rivers State in Nigeria. After Burna Boy’s secondary education in Corona Secondary School in Agbara, Ogun State, he moved to London, the United Kingdom where he studied Media Technology at the University of Sussex and later studied Media Communications and Culture at Oxford Brookes University. He’s not just a musician but also, an academician.
Now, let’s look at Burna Boy’s music career, his debut album, songs and other projects.
Burna Boy who is now the definition of success in the African music industry shot to fame after releasing his “Like to Party” single off his L.I.F.E album in 2013. That album sold out with over 40,000 copies on the first day of its release. That was a record-breaking album. Later on, the marketing rights of the album was sold to Uba Pacific for 10 million Naira equivalent to $24, 368. Prior to the release of the L.I.F.E album, five songs, ‘Always Love You’, ‘Run My Race’ ‘Tonight’ ‘Like To Party’ and ‘Yawa Dey’ were released. Burna Boy featured top musicians such as 2Baba Idibia, M.I, Timaya, Olamide, Reminisce and Wizkid on the album.
The L.I.F.E album got nominated for Best Album of the Year at Nigeria Entertainment Awards in 2014 and then in 2016, the album grabbed number 7 position on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart.
In 2015, Burna Boy went on and released his second album and then proceeded to release a 7-track EP titled ‘Redemption’ in September 2016. Again, in January 2018, he released another album ‘Outside’ which is his third album. ‘Outside’ featured musicians such as J Hus, Lily Allen and Mabel. Here are some songs on Burna Boy’s ‘Outside’ album; ‘Rock Your Body’, ‘Streets of Africa’, ‘Koni Baje’, ‘Sekkle Down’, ‘Heaven’s Gate’ and ‘Ye’. The album grabbed the Album of the Year award at the 2018 Nigeria Entertainment Awards and then debuted at number 3 on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart in February 2018. The ‘Outside’ album propelled Burna Boy’s music career to another level.
One of Burna Boy’s achievement is performing at a sold-out crowd at London’s O2 Academy Brixton. October 2018 also came with good news as Spotify announced Burna Boy as one of its New Afro Hub Takeover Artistes. Also that same year, YouTube announced him as Artist on the Rise for three months. The year 2018 was obviously a good year for Burna Boy.
Fast forward to January 2019, Burna Boy was announced as one of the artists to thrill the audience at the 2019 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Also, he bagged four awards at the Soundcity MVP Awards Festival, including African Artiste of the Year, Listener’s Choice and Best Male MVP. The year 2019 started well for Burna Boy and the above proof so. He has been winning awards since he shot to fame in 2012.
Still, in 2019, Burna Boy was crowned as winner in the category, Best International Act at the 2019 BET Awards and was also announced as Apple Music Next Up Artist. Later in 2019, he got featured on Beyoncé’s much-talked album, “The Lion King: The Gift”. He recorded ‘Ja Ara E’ which translates in Yoruba as “wise up” or “use your head” on the album. The year 2019 was one of the best years in Burna Boy’s music career judging from what he achieved in the year.
In July 2019, Burna Boy released his fourth studio album titled “African Giant” which had songs such as ‘Gbona’, ‘Killin Dem’, ‘On the Low’ ‘Dangote’ and ‘Pull Up’, ‘Anybody’ and others. “African Giant” was nominated in the category ‘Best World Music Album’ at the 2020 Grammy Awards but unfortunately, he lost to Beninese-American singer, songwriter, actress, and activist Angelique Kidjo. Burna Boy was with high hopes of winning but that never materialized.
Burna Boy never gave up on the Grammys as he bounced back and released his fifth studio album, ‘Twice As Tall’ which got nominated in the category ‘Best Global Music Album’. This was his second time getting a nomination at the Grammy awards. The ‘Twice As Tall’ album which was executively produced by Diddy and Bose Ogulu grabbed the number one spot on the Billboard World Albums Chart.
Fast forward to March 14, 2021, Burna Boy became the first Nigerian musician to win a Grammy award. His ‘Twice As Tall’ album won in the category ‘Best Global Music Album’. This is a feat that’ll go down into the history books of the Nigerian music industry. Burna Boy after he was announced as the winner, recorded a video of himself and encouraged his fellow African musicians not to give up on their talent and work hard to achieve greater things because everything is possible. According to him, he started doing music just like how any other musician started but with hard work, resilience and perseverance, he’s been able to win a Grammy award. In a tweet, he thanked all those who worked on his ‘Twice As Tall’ album and made it possible.
In another tweet, he bragged about doing it on his own and added that he knew some Nigerians wanted him to lose the Grammys for the second time and mock him on social media but thank God that never happened. To him, his children will be proud and confidently say that their father did it on his own.
Burna Boy’s tweet reads:
“My kids will confidently beat their chest and say “Daddy did it on his OWN, We can do it on our own”. The above tweet generated controversies on social media and while some dragged him for boasting, others praised him for saying the truth without fear.
According to Burna Boy, he would have won a Grammy award in 2013 if Nigeria had leadership that takes the youths seriously and think about their welfare and growth.
Here’s what Burna Boy said:
“If the environment was conducive and we had leadership who took the youth seriously and certain infrastructure in place, I probably won’t be winning a Grammy in 2021. I probably would have won in 2013 or 2014.
I’m basically the stone that the builders refused when it comes to, you know, being here (in music). I was very relieved because I deserved it. I was hoping a situation wouldn’t happen where I didn’t get what I deserved“.
Burna Boy winning the Grammys has opened the gate for other African musicians especially Ghanaian musicians to also build themselves and work hard towards achieving this feat.