As the year 2020 kicks off with what may become a historic moment for Africans, especially Nigerians who eagerly anticipate the 62nd Grammy Awards. Arguably the biggest annual music award in the world since its establishment in 1959. Grammy Award recognises and honours outstanding achievement in the music industry, and this year’s edition is slated to hold on the 26th of January 2020.
Out of the 84 categories listed in this years edition of the Grammy awards, Burna Boy, a Nigerian Afro-fusion singer and songwriter has been nominated in the Best World Music Album of the year category. A category for albums containing at least 51% playing time of new vocal or instrumental world music recordings. The announcement was made officially on the Grammy website on the 20th of November 2019, and it left Africans all over the world celebrating the big feat achieved by the African Giant.
Getting nominated for a Grammy is indeed a historic moment archived by only a hand full of Nigerians in the history of the prestigious award. Winning the award is an achievement that would vibrate through the whole continent. Most Africans are very positive that Burna Boy will win the award but taking a critical look at the category, it is a tough one for Burna.
While some think that Burna Boy cannot go beyond the nomination to win the award, many are optimistic that the charismatic singer will bring home the Grammy.
- BURNA BOY — THE JOURNEY: Damili Ebunoluwa Ogulu popularly known as Burna Boy is one of the most prominent music Artist to come of Nigeria in the last decade. He introduced himself to the music industry in 2012 when he released his single ‘’Like to party’’. He has since then released four studio Albums which includes ‘’L.I.F.E’’ in 2013, ‘’On a spaceship’’ in 2015, ‘’Outside’’ in 2018 and ‘’African Giant’’ in 2019 which is no doubt his most successful album so far. The African Giant Album which was released on the 26th of July 2019, days after is 28th birthday earned him the Grammy nomination four months after its release. The 19 track album featured artist like Jordan Smith, Future, Angelique Kidjo, Damian Marley, Zlatan among others. The Albums has been greatly accepted in the global community. Sheldon Pearce of Pitchfork granted the record an 8.3/10 rating, August Brown of The Los Angeles Times wrote a month after its release that the album “never dilutes its sound to cater to Anglo audiences, or even to the hip-hop and R&B scenes that are dabbling in Afro-pop right now.”
2. Heavyweight Competitors: Five nominees including Burna Boy, were selected for the award. These are all exceptional musicians and understanding their music make one know-how though the category is. On the nominee list is Altin Gun for their album ‘GECE’’. Altin Gun is a Rock and Folk band group from Amsterdam. They are new in the game having their first debut album in 2019. Next on the list is Bokanke and Metropole Orkest for their album ‘’WHAT HEAT’’. Bokanke is an international music ensemble of 8 well-versed musicians from 4 continents including a two-time grammy award-winning guitarist. At the same time, Metrople Orkest is a multiple grammy-winning hybrid ensemble part Jazz big band conducted by Jules Buckley. The group won a Grammy Award for the Best Brazilian Album in 2011 and another grammy for the Best contemporary instrumental album in 2016. So orchestra is no newcomer at the Grammy and teaming up the Bokanke group of professional musicians makes them one big contender.
Another dominant heavyweight on the list is Nathalie Joachim and the Spektral Quartet for their work on the ‘’FANM D’AYITI’’ Album which explores Haitian Music Heritage. Nathalie Joachim is female Haitian-American flautist, composer and vocalist and this black beauty teams up with Spektral Quartet; a string quartet based in Chicago who was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2017.
And last but not least, Angelique Kidjo for her album ‘’CELIA’’. Angelique Kidjo is a music maverick whose talent has made an impact for over three decades in the music world. She has won 3 Grammy Awards out of 4 Grammy nominations in the same category. The first award in 2008, the second in 2015 and the most recent in 2016. This current nomination makes it her 5th nomination at the Grammys. With 3 Grammys and a strong musical presence globally, Angelique Kidjo seems to be the most definite contender to be defeated for the award.
Asides the top contenders Burna Boy has to beat to win the award. Another factor poses a significant threat which is that;
3. Very few Africans have won the Grammy.
Only 7 Africans have had the privilege of winning a Grammy in its history. These includes Angelique Kidjo, the US-based Beninese who has three Grammys; Wouter Kellerman, a South-African flautist and music composer with one Grammy; Tinariwen, a band of Tuareg musicians from the northern region of Mali with one Grammy; Youssou N’Dour, a singer, percussionist, songwriter and composer from Senegal with one Grammy; Soweto Gospel Choir, a choir of over 30 members based in Soweto South-Africa with two Grammys; Late Ali Farka Toure, a super talented singer and multi-instrumentalist from Mali with three Grammy Awards and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, a South-African male choral group with four Grammys.
The only Nigerian to have been considered as a Grammy winner of which he won the award not as an independent artist but as part of the contributors to a foreign work is Sikiru Adepoju in 2009, winning the Best contemporary world music album for his work with Mickey Hart on the Mickey Hart global Drum project.
Music Artists from Nigeria to ever come close with nominations include King Sunny Ade with two nominations; Babatunde Olatunji with one nomination; Femi Kuti with two nominations and Seun Kuti with one nomination.
Other Nigerians to have been nominated for a Grammy based on their contributions to foreign work are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for her work with Beyonce in 2015; Wizkid for his work with Drake in the same year; Kah-Lo for his work with Raton in 2017; Timaya for his work wit Mogan Heritage in 2018, and now, Burna Boy for his with Fall Out Boy in 2019.
With all these facts and statistics, we just mentioned, the big question now is, does Burna Boy have what it takes to become a Grammy award winner and break the record? Let’s dive into his weapons!
4. Originality in Music: Talk about an artist who has stayed authentic to his sound without diluting his music with western influence, Burnaboy would be topping the list. From the LIFE album in 2013 to African Giant album in 2019, Burna not only shows his originality in balancing his unique genre of music he calls Afro-fusion with contemporary sounds, but he also stays within the African context in terms of his message. He uses his music as a medium for expressing the African experience. Kyann-Sian Williams of New Musical Express praises Burna for ‘’using his profile to raise awareness for a better Africa’’. He said this on his review of the African Giant album rating the Album 4 stars out of five.
5. The Fela Kuti effect: The Nigerian music star explores the sound of the Legendary Fela Kuti and his Afrobeat, and this has knitted the background for Burna’s Afro-fusion. Kitty Empire of The Guardian commented that ‘’the singer’s boundary-hoping mixture of laid-back Caribbean swagger, Fela Kuti swing and multilingual communique on a range of concerns’’ The influence of Fela’s music and message resonates through Burnaby’s repertoire.
6. Burnaboy Authentic Jambalaya: Burnaboy also adopts dancehall, reggae, American rap and R&B perfectly mish mash and fusing them with Afrobeat. His originality earned him a spot on Beyonce’s ‘’The Gift Album’’ as the only guest artist with an independent track on the album. Burnaboy says he is proud of being an African and is willing to represent the continent as the African giant.
7. Personality & Style: Burna Boy’s originality in music also reflects in his personality and style which is aided by his strong team consisting of his mum Bose Ogulu as his manager, his sister Ronami Ogulu as his stylist, his grandfather Benson Idonije who was once a manager for the late Fela Kuti and his team at Atlantic Records. His team can be defined as a family who works together intending to showcase African contemporary to the world. This is one of few reasons we believe Burna Boy ready for the infamous Grammy Awards.
8. Award wins and Shows: 2019 would be an unforgettable year for Burna Boy not only for his Grammy nomination but for the loads of award the music star received. Out of 23 nominations in 2019, Burna Boy bagged 13. He won all the four categories he was nominated for in the 2019 Soundcity MVP Awards Festival as African Artist of the Year, Best Male MVP, Song of the Year ‘’ye’’ and Listener’s Choice for the same song; He won three Awards as Artist of the Year, Best African Act, Song of the Year ‘’Ye’’ and Album of the Year ‘’Outside’’ out of eight nominations at the 2019 edition of The Headies; He won two awards at the African Muzik Magazine Awards as Artist of the Year and Song of the Year ‘’Ye’’ out of 7 nominations. At the All African Music Awards, Burna Boy clinched both nomination awards for the West African Male Artist of the Year and Album of the year ‘’African Giant’’. Across the shore of the African Continent, Burna Boy Won the Best African Act at the 2019 MTV Europe Music Awards. In June of the same year, he won one of his biggest prizes so far as he was crowned Best International Act at the prestigious BET Awards.
9. Thrilling shows & Energetic performances around the world: Starting 2019 with receiving an announcement that he would be performing at the 2019 Coachella Valley and Arts Music Festival. He expressed his dissatisfaction on how his name appeared small on the bill of the event urging the organisers to ‘’…fix things quick’’ in a deleted Instagram post. The correction was made, and Burna Boy performed on the 15th of April 2019. That was the epic move that ushered in the ‘’African Giant’’ theme after confidently addressing himself as an African Giant. He has since then toured major cities like Toronto, New York, LA, Atlanta and other major states in the US for the African Giant tour in August and September 2019.
A major highlight of shows in 2019 for the African Giant was is a performance at the Wembley Arena in London. It was a glorious day for the artist as he became the first Afrobeat artist to sell out the 12,500 capacity Webley Anera, the same night he won the Best African Act award at the MTV EMA Awards which took place in Seville, Spain. Earlier on, Burna Boy had in the previous year sold out the 4,900 plus capacity 02 Academy Brixton on his ‘’live on the outside’’ tour in London.
: Burna Boy’s music had gone mainstream since the second half of the last decade, but the global community opened up to the Giant’s music full fledge in 2019. The Outside album in 2018 marked the explosion of Burna Boy’s music to the world. With a song like ‘’Ye’’ which was enjoyed by Top American Celebrities like Kanye West, Rihanna among others, Burna Boy had won the hearts of the American audience. Nigerian-British World Heavy Weight Champion Anthony Joshua went on to use the song as his entrance song at his iconic comeback fight with Ruiz Jr in December 2019, and the song was said to have been rated as the ‘’second-biggest entrance song of all time’’ as revealed by Julie Adenuga in her an interview with Burna Boy at Beat 1 studios, UK in July of 2019.
The Artist who was in October 2018 Spotify’s New Afro Hub Takeover Artist and YouTube’s Artist on the Rise for three months was announced in July 2019 as Apple Music’s Up, Next artist.
The Africa Giant album has enjoyed positive professional ratings hitting an aggregate mark of 80/100 according to Metacritic.com. The album was ranked at number 63 on Vice’s list of the 100 Best Albums of the 2010s beating the likes of Justin Bieber, Nicky Minaj and Cardi B.
11. Burna Boy Crush on Gramophone: Are you surprised? Over and over again, Burna Boy talked about his love for the Gramophone Award. If he is not singing it in his lyrics, he is talking about it in his interviews and shows. He even said the distinctive factors why he chooses Universal music publishing group over Sony records and Wanner records back in 2015 was because they could bring him a step closer to his long-time crush.
Of all the nice Grammy suitors from Nigeria with the likes of Wizkid, Davido, Skales, 9ice, and even young Fireboy. Burna Boy seems to be the most prepared and convincing. This probably explains why he paid a visit to her residence at the recording Academy in July 2019.