At last Sunday’s Grammy Awards, Burna Boy picked up Best World Music Album with his fifth studio album ‘Twice as Tall’. The awarded gramophone is emblematic of his decade-long career alignment: African Giant.
At 29, Burna’s music career has accommodated tremendous applause, both locally and internationally, making him one of the biggest acts Africa holds in high esteem. Scrolling through them inhabits first-time ever record settings, international stage performances and mainstream collaborations. On the side hammers endorsement deals and an active social media presence, helping shape world conversations.
As we continue to celebrate his Grammy win, we break down below some of the marvelous credits attached to his brand.
Much of Burna Boy’s big wins were recorded within the last three years. Starting off at the 2019 Soundcity MVP Awards, one of the biggest music platforms that recognizes accomplished musicians in Africa, the ‘Anybody’ hitmaker tanked four major wins for Song of the year, Best male MVP, Listener’s choice and Artiste of the year. In that same year, he climbed the BET Awards stage picking up the Best International Act of the year trophy, while mentioned amongst Apple Music’s Up Next list of artists (a monthly program published by Apple Music to identify, showcase and elevate rising talents).
His fourth Studio Album ‘African Giant’ was awarded Album of the Year at the All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) and also stewed much credit with it at the 2020 Grammy Awards, when he landed a nomination in the Best World Music Album category. Despite the adored tracks that loaded the album, Burna walked out of the Grammys a zero winner, losing to Angelique Kidjo’s ‘Celia’.
A year on, Burna Boy released ‘Twice as Tall’ amidst the novel coronavirus, marking a defining moment in his career at the Grammys. He now counts as part of the recorded Grammy winners in the Best World Music Album category with ‘Twice as Tall’. His win cements him as the first Nigerian artist to win a Grammy with a solo project.
In Beyoncé’s ‘The Lion King: The Gift’ album, impressive African acts such as Shatta Wale, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, Busiswa, Mr. Eazi, Yemi Alade among others were featured on separate tracks alongside Beyoncé or on joint tracks. The hype and pageantry that followed Burna’s feature was rallied behind his standalone musical input ‘Ja Ara E’, translated in Yoruba as ‘wise up’ or ‘use your head’.
In the sequel production of Eddie Murphy’s ‘Coming To America 2’, Burna Boy featured alongside EGOT holder John Legend and record-producer Nile Rodgers in vocalizing the official theme song for the movie.
He also recorded ‘My Money, My Baby’, which was a track on American drama film ‘Queen & Slim’.
His other notable international features are chalked in Sam Smith’s ‘My Oasis’ and his four-track collaborative EP with DJDS, the Los Angeles based DJ duo. Within the African confinement is ‘Jerusalema’ remix, which he hopped on, thanks to South African producer Master KG.
Global Stage Performances
Burna Boy’s global stage performance journey hasn’t been without controversy. While many African acts shy away from correcting mistakes done them by international show organizers, Burna Boy fired a warning tweet at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival after his name was scripted in small fonts. The tweet received prompt attention from the organizers, causing a bolder font in his name write up.
Curated amongst world leading stars such as Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Celine Dion and Jennifer Lopez, Burna Boy entered the homes of literally everyone in the world as he performed on the virtual show ‘One World: Together at Home’ created by Global Citizen at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Recent to his plethora of stage performances is the 2021 Grammy performance, which continues to be the talk on social media. He has also performed on American talk shows such as, ‘Late Night with Seth Meyers’, ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’ and ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’.
Alongside Beyoncé’s ‘Mood 4 Eva’, Burna Boy’s ‘Anybody’ off his ‘African Giant’ album was one of former US President, Barack Obama’s favourite songs of 2019. In a year flashed with much uncertainties (2020), Obama once again was a fan of Burna’s tune, as his featured work on Jorja Smith’s ‘Be Honest’ got enlisted on the former President’s Summer Playlists.
During the inaugural ceremony of American President Joe Biden, earlier this year, Burna Boy’s ‘Destiny’ was included on the playlist.
Advocacy with Music
”My music is my essence and it is primarily for the empowerment of Nigerians and Africans. I have always and will always continue to use my voice for this cause as I deem fit not because I am forced to but because I have chosen to,” wrote Burna Boy in his statement against Nigeria’s End Sars protest.
In a simple view: He understands the positive impact of music. Reference song: 20:10:20, inspired by the Lekki massacre in Lagos, Nigeria last year, where security forces shot peaceful protesters demonstrating against police brutality.
Highlighting every page of Burna Boy’s achievements scribes a megastar equals legendary status, which most peer players are yet to receive on their scoreboard. He establishes ahead of his time.