Burna boy has been an image of tremendous success for Nigerian since his breakout in Nigerian music scene. But, at times Burna boy has both been a hero and a villain. Enjoy this interesting and inspiring ride into the life of one of Nigeria music most inspiring exports
If I dey beat my chest, no misunderstand no be pride, I be gorilla, Burna boy tweeted on 18th of April, 2021, suggesting that he is biggest musician in Nigeria and he doesn’t care if he is been misunderstood and he doesn’t care if anyone takes it personally
Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu known popularly as Burna boy was born on the 2nd of July,1991 to the family of Samuel and Bose Ogulu. Burna Boy came from a family with musical background as his grandfather Benson Idonije was once a manager for Nigerian legendary singer Fela kuti and his mum was formerly a dancer for fela kuti . He grew up in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, he did his secondary school education in Corona secondary school in Agbara,Ogun state before moving to london to study media technology at the university of Sussex
Burna Boy’s music is largely considered as Afro-fusion, But his music diversifies from Afro beats, R’n’b, Street Pop, Raggaeton and sometimes a little bit of rap. Burna boy’s music journey started in 2010 after he released his first mixtape. Burna boy first gained widespread popularity after the release of his song ‘’Like to Party’’ in 2012.Burna boy’s debut album L.I.F.E was released on 12th of August 2013.The Album which was released under Aristokrat records reportedly sold over 40,000 copies on its first day of release. The Album featured popular artists like Wizkid, Tuface, Olamide and Timaya . The Album was supported with singles such as Tonight, Like to party, Run my race, always love you and yawa dey. L.I.F.E which was critically praised peaked at number 7 at Billboard reggae albums charts. The album samples the style of Fela Kuti and Bob Marley.
Burna’s second album On a spaceship was released on the 25th of November,2015 eight months after he parted ways with Aristokrat records, The album which was released under spaceship entertainment records which was founded by him contained popular sings like soke, Oluwa Burna and The realest. He released an Ep REDEMPTION in November 2016, it featured popular songs like pree me and boshe nlo
Burna boy’s big international break came in 2018 after the release of his viral hit YE in January. The song was critically praised and was an immediate hit. The song gained international recognition after Kanye West released an album with the same name, some kanye west fans accidentally stumbled on burna boy’s YE and it made the song more popular. Burna Boy thanked Kanye West for the confusion on Twitter. The single peaked at number 31 at the US R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay charts. YE was released as a Single from his 2018 album OUTSIDE. YE is the most certified Nigerian song as of 2020. The song won multiples awards across Africa including The Headies song of the year award
Ye was recorded in a popular clubhouse in Lagos named Quilox owned by his friend Shina Peller under two hours. He acknowledged Shina Peller in the song calling Shina Peller “My bro, My Family”. Burna boy explains in an interview with rap radar in December 2019
He narrates, “It’s so funny. I had finished recording the ‘Outside’ album and I had just bought a Bentley. I was in the club every other day and then, I was in this club called Quilox, right? The owner is my friend, his name is Shina Peller. So, he just comes up to me and he knew I was gone (high) already. I was already f******, alright (scoffs).
“So he pulls up on me and was like, ‘Yo, my guy (Phantom, the producer) just made this beat. I’m telling you, this is yours. I’m like, ‘”Bro, you have started this rubbish…’ He made them put the beat on his phone… First, we go outside to the restaurant and he plays it in my ear – I got hungry.
“Everything was in the club; there’s a restaurant right there, the studio is upstairs… it was a nice setting. So anyways, eventually we go upstairs and I start recording. The producer (Phantom) is there waiting… It didn’t take me 10 minutes. I spent the rest of the time listening to it. That’s how made ‘Ye’ in the club”
The Album which included YE was named OUTSIDE. It was released in January 2018 under spaceship entertainment and it featured twelve songs and six singles which were : Rock your Body, Streets of Africa, koni baje, Sekkle down, Heaven’s gate and YE. It gave Burna Boy his Superstar status. The album was accepted well upon its release, it was given a 7.7 out of 10 rating on pitchfork. Pitchfork writer Claire Lobenfeld praised Burna Boy’s versatility and said his kaleidoscopic output on the album makes it “a fine lesson in mixing genres without making mud”. One Tribe magazine applauded Burna Boy for experimenting with different sounds, but ended the review saying the LP lacks “a common theme to piece all the songs together”.Segun Akande of Pulse Nigeria said Outside is Burna Boy’s “most personal project yet” adding it is “a deeply expository look at himself and the fears and influences that have made him such a divisive figure”. The album sampled fela’s style of music and the album was a hybrid of Dancehall, Afrobeats, Raggaeton, highlife and Afro pop.
The album debuted at number three on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart, spending nine weeks on the chart. It won the Album of the year at the 2018 Nigerian entertainment Awards
Since the release of the OUTSIDE album Burna Boy’s career has been at an upward trajectory. He has since released two bestselling albums and has won numerous awards, including a grammy award and two BETs
African Giant was released as a follow-up to Outside in 2019 and was even more successful than its predecessor. The name of the album was derived from his infamous outburst at Coachella‘s organizers regarding the placement of his name in a small font. Burna Boy told Billboard magazine the album is his most personal yet, and would touch upon themes of Nigeria’s political climate and violence in the region. The album was released in July 2019 and it contained eight singles. “Gbona” Released: September 27, 2018, “On the Low”
Released: November 16, 2018, “Killin Dem”Released: January 3, 2019”, Dangote”Released:March 1, 2019, ”Anybody”Released: June 14, 2019, “Pull Up”Released: July 22, 2019, “Omo”Released: November 6, 2019, “Secret”Released: January 24, 2020
The album mostly produced by Kel p features 19 tracks, it was received well by critics. It was given a 9.1 out of ten rating by Pulse Nigeria , an 8.3/10 on pitchfork and 80 out of 100 on metacritic.
The artwork was inspired by Nigeria’s first 10 naira note, which features Nigerian educationist Alvan Ikoku. The album’s artwork also contains other symbolic elements, including serial style numbers representing his date of birth, images of him as a baby with his father and grandfather depicting generational transition, and a stack of gold coins suggesting a single African currency backed by gold.
The album peaked at number 104 at billboard 200 chart and it charted in over 15 countries. The album received many awards including Album of the Year at the 2019 All Africa Music Awards and was nominated for Best World Music Album at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards. It was supported by the African Giant Returns tour, which commenced in Toronto in August 2019.
The African giant album was aimed at portraying the Nigerian picture, the album spoke against the misdeeds of the government in songs like Collateral damage, African giant and another story, the album also spoke about the day-to-day hustle of an average Nigerian in songs like Wetin man go do and Dangote. The Album contained themes like the African pride, hustle, diversity, Struggle and romance
Burna boy’s most recent album Twice as Tall was even more political. It was released in August 2020 under Spaceship Entertainment, Atlantic records and Warner Music.The album features guest appearances from Youssou N’Dour, Naughty by Nature, Sauti Sol, Chris Martin and Stormzy. Its lead single is “Wonderful“, released on June 26, 2020. The album was inspired after Burna boy sold out the o2 arena in wembley,London during his African giant tour,in the opening track Level up featuring Youssour N’dour he sang “ I remember selling out my tour I remember feeling legendary in Wembley Arena And you can never take the pride away from my mama You’d be proud of me too if you knew where I was coming from” . In the previous album African giant. He sang about how he feels like he is an African giant, but in Twice as Tall, he claims he feel far much bigger thus that inspired its name.
The album made history by winning best global music album at 63rd grammy awards ceremony amongst plenty other awards, it was listed the 21st best album of 2020 in the world on vice.com. The album charted in more twenty countries
Burna boy has been featured in songs with several global stars such as Ed Sheeran,Sia, Justin Bieber, Future among many others
Burna boy has been a controversial figure since he arrived in the music industry. He has been involved in bust-ups with fellow singers like South African rapper A.K.A and Nigerian music icon Davido and his music has been described as violent, indecent and inappropriate by some critics.
Apart from being one of the most popular singers in the country and continent at large he is also one of the richest. Burna boy net worth was valued at 3.5 million dollars by forbes in 2020 although he objected and claimed he was worth far more than that
Burna boy has been managed by his mum, Bose Ogulu and At the 2019 BET Awards in California, Ogulu stood in for her son to collect the award for Best International Act and gave a speech reminding African-Americans to remember “you were Africans before you became anything else” which resulted in a standing ovation. Bose Ogulu also manages Burna boy’s younger sister Nissi who is a Britain based singer.
Burna boy has severally spoken out for his love for tattoos and claims that he got his first tattoo at age 15. He is an avid Manchester United fan and he has been dating british rapper and songstress Stefflon don since 2018.
He has been accused of being arrogant severally to both fans and rivals. In 2019, during a show in Atlanta,Georgia. He ordered one of his fans to leave the show because he said the fans wasn’t singing to his song during the show and he returned the fan’s ticket money to him.
Written By Opeyemi Adeleye David