No one deserves that title more than Burna Boy. He embodies the essence of what it is to be African. Listening to his music catapults one straight into the hearts and minds of the African sprit. His latest album titled Africa Giant feels like the fulfilment of a prophecy. Sense will just fall on you when listening to it.
Burna Boy: Origins
In the beginning was a young man name Damini Ogulu, he answered the call of his ancestors while in Port Harcourt. They had dropped words in his heart and a fire in his soul. He was their messenger. They had christened him Burna Boy. He was to be a pencil in the hand of his creator.
Like every prophet, Burna Boy wondered in the wilderness of knowledge seeking and self-discovery. When he dropped “Like to Party” in 2013, the first single off his debut studio album titled L.I.F.E., it was a fresh sound, melodious and kinda laid back. It was different from what Nigerians were used to.
He followed it up with “Tonight”. By the time “Run My Race” came out, he was on the lips of everyone. Wisdom led him to shoot the video in Fela’s shrine.
L.I.F.E hit number 7 on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart and in 2014 was nominated for Best Album of the Year. (Note to Billboard: you guys need to create an Afro Beat chat. Ho ha)
A rolling stone gathers no moss. A restless soul can’t be tied down. Burna left Aristokrat Records in 2014 to forge his own path. His record label Spaceship Entertainment was born in 2015.
That same year he dropped his second album, “On a Spaceship”. The 7-track EP Redemption followed in 2016. He signed with Atlantic Records in 2017.
Whatever spirit made him fire his mum, Bose Ogulu, was cast out as she is now back to handling his affairs. African mums are the best.
Burna Boy: Rebirth
When “Ye” came out in 2018, from Burna’s third studio album Outside, it was like the Gods were speaking to us. We saw a new Burna Boy. He had found his true sound, Afrobeat with a fusion of reggae, dancehall and road rap.
Just like Moses after spending time on mount Sinai and Jesus after his 40 days and 40 nights fast, Burna Boy came back loaded with ancestral words of wisdom. His words cut to everyone in all spheres of life and made them think.
“Ye” was the biggest song of 2018 and it proved it by cleaning out the major categories at the Soundcity MVP Awards Festival, wining Listeners Choice and Song of the Year awards. Burna Boy won Best Male MVP and African Artiste of the Year too.
“Outside” was a critically acclaimed, winning Album of the Year at the 2018 Nigerian Entertainment Awards and finished the year. It peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Reggae Album’s chart.
He gave us a spiritual tune in “Thuggin/ Darko” from Steel & Copper, a collaborative EP with DJDS.
He performed Ye in the 2019 edition of Coachella after letting them know he wasn’t happy about the font in which his name was written.
Burna Boy appeared on Sway’s Universe and talked about the need for Africans to rediscover themselves. In his words “we are only as strong as our roots are”. He realizes he is more than an artist, he is an activist. His music is his tool for reeducation.
Ja Ara E, a song about finding your path, featured on the Beyoncé curated Lion King: The Gift album. It was Burna Boy in his elements and he didn’t disappoint.
In June 24, 2019 Burna Boy won BET Awards Best International Act.
This is more than an album. It is the fulfilment of prophesy and a foretelling of what the future holds for African music.
From “Dangote” which speaks on the resilience of the African in working to achieve his/her dream of a better life to “On the Low”, love song to the woman who “dey cool him temperature” and makes him want to “be a better guy”. It’s the original Brown Skin Girl.
Burna Boy delivers on all fronts, reminding us of our roots. Taking us on a journey of self-love and discovery. He reminds us of whom we are as Africans, talks about our problems and lets us know we can do better.
Burna Boy said his ancestors speak through him when he makes music. After listening to African Giant, I completely believe him.
I dey Gate.