The African Musical Giant

Burna Boy became the first Nigerian act to sell out the 20 thousand-capacity Madison Square Garden in New York, & the first African act to headline a show there. The show had musical legends Busta Rhymes introducing him to the stage & Yousou N’Dour opening for him.

BACKGROUND

Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu MFR known professionally as Burna Boy, is a #Nigerian singer, songwriter and record producer. He was born on the  2nd of July, 1991in Port Harcourt, Rivers State in Nigeria. 

His mother, Bose Ogulu, worked as a language translator and his father, Samuel, was a manager for a welding company. His maternal grandfather, Benson Idonije, once managed Nigerian multi-instrumentalist Fela Kuti. Burna grew up in southern Nigeria and began making his own beats using FL Studio. 

He rose to fame in 2012 after the release of his single “Like to Party”, the lead song from his debut studio album, L.I.F.E (2013). In 2019, he won Best International Act at the 2019 BET Awards, and was announced as an Apple Music Up Next artist. 

His fourth studio album, African Giant, was released in July 2019 and won 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.  In 2021, his album Twice as Tall won the Best World Music Album at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.

He attended Corona Secondary School in Agbara (Ogun State) and relocated to London to further his studies.  

He later studied media technology at the University of Sussex from 2008 to 2009, then studied media communications and culture at Oxford Brookes University from 2009 to 2010.

He then returned to Port Harcourt and took up a year-long internship at Rhythm 93.7 FM.  Career Burna Boy’s debut studio album, L.I.F.E, was released on 12 August 2013, serving as the follow-up to his second mixtape Burn Identity (2011). 

The album sold 40,000 copies on the first day of its release. Aristokrat Records later sold its marketing rights to Uba Pacific for ₦10 million. 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 was produced entirely by Leriq and features guest appearances from 2face Idibia, M.I, Timaya, Olamide, Reminisce, and Wizkid, alongside others. Nigeria Entertainment Today ranked the album 10th on its list of the 12th Best Albums of 2013. The album’s music was inspired by Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade, and Bob Marley. It received generally positive reviews from music critics, who applauded its production. 

It was nominated for Best Album of the Year at the 2014 Nigeria Entertainment Awards. In August 2013, L.I.F.E peaked at number seven on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart. In 2014, Burna Boy split from Aristokrat Records. In February 2015, he founded the record label Spaceship Entertainment eight months after parting ways with Aristocrat Records. Burna Boy released his second studio album, On a Spaceship, on 25 November 2015. 

His seven-track debut extended play, Redemption, was released in September 2016. Its lead single, “Pree Me”, debuted on Noisey. On 19 January 2018, Burna Boy was featured on American rock band Fall Out Boy’s song, “Sunshine Riptide”, a track from their seventh studio album, Mania. He released his third studio album, Outside, exactly a week later, on 26 January 2018. 

Described as a mixtape, Outside consists mostly of afrobeat, dancehall, reggae, and road rap. It features guest appearances from J Hus, Lily Allen, and Mabel. Outside was supported by six singles: “Rock Your Body”, “Streets of Africa”, “Koni Baje”, “Sekkle Down”, “Heaven’s Gate” and “Ye”. Its production was handled by Leriq, Baba Stiltz, Jae 5, Juls, Chopstix, Steel Banglez, Fred Gibson, Phantom, and FTSE. 

The album received positive critical acclaim and was ranked by Pulse Nigeria and Nigerian Entertainment Today as the best Nigerian album of 2018. It won Album of the Year at the 2018 Nigeria Entertainment Awards. 

In February 2018, Outside debuted at number three on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart. A single from the album, “Ye”, ended up atop most Nigerian publications’ year-end list as the biggest song of 2018. On 7 October 2018, Burna Boy performed before a sold-out crowd at London’s O2 Academy Brixton. 

A day prior to the show, he held a pop-up event at Red by Little Farm and sold limited boxes of his Space Puffs cereal, as well as custom notepads, lighters and graphic tee-shirts. On 9 October 2018, Burna Boy was announced as one of Spotify’s New Afro Hub Takeover Artist. The announcement coincided with him being named YouTube’s Artist on the Rise for 3 months. 

On 3 January 2019, Burna Boy was announced alongside Mr Eazi as one of the artists performing at the 2019 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. He won four awards at the Soundcity MVP Awards Festival, including African Artiste of the Year, Listener’s Choice and Best Male MVP. On 21 March 2019, Burna Boy released a 4-track collaborative EP with Los Angeles-based electronic duo DJDS, titled Steel & Copper. It blends Burna Boy’s upbeat melodies with DJDS’ slinky trap beats. Steel & Copper combines elements of dancehall and reggae music with Afropop and trap. On 24 June 2019, Burna Boy won Best International Act at the 2019 BET Awards. In July 2019, 

Burna Boy was announced as an Apple Music Up Next artist. His inclusion into the program was accompanied by a Beats 1 interview with Julie Adenuga and a short documentary. 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. 

Burna Boy’s fourth studio album, African Giant, was released on 26 July 2019. It was supported by six singles: “Gbona”, “On the Low”, Killin Dem”, “Dangote”, “Anybody” and “Pull Up”. He began recording the album in 2018 and told Billboard that it is his most personal project yet. 

He first revealed plans to release it in April 2019 and held a private listening session in Los Angeles. Photos and videos from the listening session were shared on social media. African Giant was initially announced as a 16-track album. 

To promote the album, Burna Boy headlined the African Giant Returns tour, the second leg of his African Giant tour. Burna Boy recorded “My Money, My Baby”, a track that appeared on Queen & Slim‘s soundtrack album. Described as an “Afrobeat-tinged track”, “My Money, My Baby” contains a sample of Fela Kuti’s 1972 song “Shakara”. 

On 22 November 2019, Burna Boy was featured alongside English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran on British rapper Stormzy’s single, “Own It”, the fourth single from his second studio album, Heavy Is the Head. In November 2019, he became the first Afrobeat artist to sell out the SSE Arena( formerly known as the Wembley Arena). He was given a special plaque to mark his achievement.


At Nigerian Books of Record, we keep track of record breakers, impact makers, and change agents. We aim to document, celebrate, and honor the remarkable achievements and excellent records of people.

By honoring new generations of game-changers and sharing their authentic stories, we aim to break boundaries, entertain, inspire, and inform the world.

Books of Record will always strive to encourage, find, and share the uniqueness in every achiever who has distinguished themselves through hard work in every professional calling of life.

Always visit this platform for the latest updates on any of our inductions. Send us an email for suggestions on how we can serve you better or suggestions on the next NBR Hall of Famer.

Advertise with us here.

Please, follow Nigerian Books of Record on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*