Afrobeats360 Artiste Of The Week: Burnaboy

Burna Boy is one artiste that you just can’t help but notice due to his pure unqiue talent and polemic nature.
Burnaboy’s journey to becoming one of the world’s biggest stars, is one filled with a lot of ups and downs which he has explained as the perfect way to climbing the ladder of success.
As he makes deliberate effort to take the centre stage of the happenings in the music world, there has been a change in the main topic of his music. From party tunes to more conscious messages about Africa and the world. This change in message has earned him the title “African Giant” which is also the name of his fourth studio album that birthed the change.
However, whether it’s a conscious music or party jam, Burna’s ability to fuse the different genres of music into Afrobeats which he named “afro-fusion” is a major reason why his fanbase keeps increasing.
While Burnaboy’s contemporaries are bent on taking Africa to the world with the music, Burnaboy is focused on bringing the world to Africa because according him, the world started from Africa.

Burnaboy at the 2019 BET awards. Photo sourced from Twitter

Name: Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu Rex
D.O.B: 2 July 1991 (age 29)
Years active: 2012–present
Record Labels: Aristokrat, Spaceship Bad burna Atlantic Warner Music

Projects: ‘L.I.F.E’, ‘On A Spaceship’, ‘Redemption’, ‘Outside’, ‘Steel & Copper’, ‘African Giant’, ‘Twice As Tall’

Early Life

Damini Ogulu was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.His father managed a welding company and his mother worked as a translator. His grandfather Benson Idonije once a manager to Fela Kuti whilst his mother Bose Ogulu, later worked for the music Legend.
Ogulu grew up in southern Nigeria and began making his own beats using FruityLoops. He attended Corona Secondary School in Agbara and relocated to London to further his studies. He later studied Media Technology at the University of Sussex, followed by Media Communications and Culture at Oxford Brookes University but he never graduated.

Musical Journey

Burnaboy performing

Despite Burna’s grandfather being the manager to the pioneer of Afrobeat– Fela Kuti, Burnaboy says his early influence in music remains American hip hop artiste DMX and hip-hop group Naughty by Nature. The latter is featured in his most recent project ‘Twice As Tall’. According to him, he only started to love Fela Kuti as he grew older.

Burna Boy got signed to Aristokrat records and rose to prominence in 2012 after releasing “Like to Party”, the lead single from his debut studio album L.I.F.E which was released in August 2013. The album sold 50,000 copies on the first day of its release. The album’s release was preceded by five singles: “Like to Party”, “Tonight”, “Always Love You”, “Run My Race” and “Yawa Dey”.
L.I.F.E an acronym for Leaving Impact For Eternity was produced entirely by Leriq and featured artists such as 2face Idibia, M.I, Timaya, Olamide, Reminisce and Wizkid. This album living true to its name marked the beginning of the run my race crooner’s impact in the music industry and life in general.

In 2014, Burnaboy had to part ways with Aristokrat records and in February 2015, he founded the record label Spaceship Entertainment eight months after parting ways with Aristocrat Records.
Burnaboy immediately set out to do some work in the studio and his second album ‘On a Spaceship’ a 20 tracks album was ready by November of that same year.
Almost a year after the release of his sophomore album, a 7-track extended play titled ‘Redemption’ was released and its lead single “Pree Me” debuted on Noisey.

In an effort to gain dominance in the International scene and help bring the world to Afrobeats, in 2017, the singer signed with Bad Habit/Atlantic Records in the United States and Warner Music Group internationally. And has so far released three studio albums including an extended play. These have earned him International awards including the BET and a Grammy nomination.

His third studio album ‘Outside’ was released in January 2018. ‘Outside’ is made up of Afrobeats, dancehall, reggae and road rap tunes. It features guest vocals from English musicians J Hus, Lily Allen and Mabel. It’s also a blend of hit singles like: “Rock Your Body”, “Streets of Africa”, “Koni Baje”, “Sekkle Down”, “Heaven’s Gate” and “Ye”, this album introduced Burnaboy to the International music industry. Its production was handled by various producers, including Juls, his longtime producer and friend Leriq, P2J, Jae 5, FRED and Phantom. The album widely received positive critical acclaim. “Ye” which became the monster hit on the album was listened to by music lovers in Lagos, London, Lisbon, Tokyo we can go on and on but we guess by now you understand that this song was massive and listened to by the whole world. On 7th October 2018, Burna Boy performed before a sold-out crowd at London’s O2 Academy Brixton.

The ‘like to party crooner’ released a collaborative 4 track EP with Los Angeles-based electronic duo DJDS, titled Steel & Copper.
He recorded “Ja Ara E” (Yoruba: “wise up” or “use your head”) for Beyoncé’s The Lion King: The Gift and was the only guest artist with their own track on the soundtrack album. And on 24 June 2019, efforts of his hard work was rewarded. Burnaboy won Best International Act at the 2019 BET Awards.

African Giant cover art

Burna Boy’s fourth studio album African Giant was released on 26 July 2019. It was preceded by six singles: “Gbona”, “On the Low”, Killin Dem”, “Dangote”, “Anybody” and “Pull Up”. He began recording the album in 2018 after he felt disrespected by the Organisers of Coachella music festival who put up his name in tiny fonts on their fliers. “I am an AFRICAN GIANT and will not be reduced to whatever that tiny
writing means,” he wrote on Instagram. He told Billboard magazine the album is his most personal yet. This album reveals the African activist in Burna. As it’s an album about Africa and her many struggles.

“Twice As Tall”, which is his fifth studio album and latest body of work was released on 14th August, 2020. An album following on from African Giant, Twice as Tall positions African music in the 21st century by using contemporary sounds for traditional melodies and rhythms.

Many have tipped this album as the one to finally land Burnaboy the Grammy award come 2021.

Afrobeats360 is proud of how far Burnaboy has come and we wish him the very best in his career.
Cheers to the Odogwu of African music on being our Artiste of The Week!

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