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Great expectation As African Giant Rides To Grammy

By Chinonso Ihekire and Adedayo Okusanya 25 January 2020   |   3:30 am

Seun Kuti’s nomination for the 2019 Grammy Award in the World Music Award category sparked excitement among Nigerians. With the widespread of Afrobeat globally that year, expectations were high.

Unfortunately, Seun, the song of music legend and creator of Afrobeat narrowly lost the award to South Africa’s Soweto Gospel Choir. Seun got nominated for the first time for his album Black Times, which was released in March 2018.

So, earlier this year when Burner Boy got nominated for the 2020 Grammy Award for his album, African Giant, many are of the opinion that, maybe, the time has come for another Nigerian artist to win the Grammy. As stakeholders in the music industry gather in the United States tomorrow for the biggest music award, expectations are high in Nigeria.

The 62nd Annual Grammy Awards ceremony, arguably the biggest world music awards ceremony, holds on Sunday, at 20,000 seating Staples Center in Los Angeles. It will recognise the best recordings, compositions, and artistes of the year in view, among other achievements.

This year, Burna Boy dons a nomination for World-wide Music category, with his African Giant album, putting an interesting spotlight on Nigeria, as he becomes the 6th Nigerian-based musician to be nominated, and the first among his recent contemporaries in the country.

Burna also struggles for this spot with four other worldwide heavyweights, including the 9-time nominee and three-time winner, Angelique Kidjo, who was nominated with the album Celia. Kidjo won her first award, in 2004, for the World Music Category and was first nominated in 1994, for the Best Music Video (Short form) category. Nigerians are optimistic about Burna’s possible win come Sunday.

Interestingly, the Anybody crooner is also among the nominees on the sensational Lion King: the Gift album, by Beyonce, with his 3-min solo-track, Ja Ara E (meaning Use Wisdom, in Yoruba language). Other African acts such as Wizkid, Shatta Wale, Tekno, Mr. Eazi, Yemi Alade and Tiwa Savage are also contributors to this album.

Streaming live on American CBS network, the show would be hosted by Alicia Keys, who also hosted the 61st edition, in 2019. Among all 84 categories up for nominations, some other significant nominations include: Record of the year, which sees American singer/rapper, Lizzo, battle heavyweights Post malone (Sunflower feat. Swae lee), Lil Nas (Old Town Road feat. Billy Ray Cyrus), Ariana Grande (7 Rings), Bon Iver (Hey, Ma), Khalid (Talk) and H.E.R. (Hard Place), with her hit single ‘Truth Hurts’.

All eyes would also be on the Album of the Year Category, which sees strong acts like Bon Iver (I, I), Lana Del Ray (Norman F—ing Rockwell!), Billie Ellish (When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?), Ariana Grande (Thank U, Next), H.E.R. (I Used To Know Her), Lil Nas X (7), Vampire Weekend (Father of the Bride) and Lizzo (Cuz I Love You) who throw hats in the ring for the award.

Right from his early stage in the industry, Burna Boy showed sparks of creativity; he stepped out with a different vibe that easily endeared him to music fans. However, credit must go her mother, Bose Ogulu, who stepped into the gap to ensure he gets all needed media exposure.

On the other hand is his grandfather Benson Idonije, a renowned music critic, who was the first manager of Fela; also put in words to get Burna Boy on the limelight. But unlike some, who depended on hype, talent saw Burna Boy through, even as her mother remains the spirit behind the Burna Movement.

Though he had been playing gigs in the country, especially within Port Harcourt axis where he stayed upon his return from abroad, Burna Boy’s first major outing was on March 11, 2012, when he opened for Grammy award-winning American artist Bobby Brown, at the Polo Club, Port Harcourt. The gig, which featured other notable Nigerian artistes such as 2Baba, Banky W, Modenine and others, was an opportunity for Burna Boy to showcase himself on a big stage. With his single Wombolobo, he left nobody in doubt of his musical ability. Today, the rest is history.

In January 2018, Burna Boy dropped his long-anticipated album, Outside. The 13-track album, which is his 6th studio album, featured some of his already released singles such as Sekkle Down ft. J Hus, Koni Baje, Heaven’s Gate ft. Lily Allen, Street of Africa and Rock Your Body. Just a week into its release, the album, which was released under Atlantic Records, was already winning; it debuted on Billboard’s Reggae Albums Chart at the Number 3 spot.

The year also saw the singer clinch different awards and sold out his shows. In addition, he launched a limited edition cereal in the UK and has also released visuals for Devil In California and Ye and released new singles All My Life (in collaboration with Major Lazer) and Gbona, both of which were accompanied by videos. Burna Boy is the only featured artist on Fall Out Boy’s recently released album Mania, Rita Ora’s Your Song remix, and J Hus Good Time.

On October 22, the Ye video, quite possibly the biggest track off Burna Boy’s Outside album, was played on the big screens at Times Square, New York sponsored by YouTube Music.

YouTube ran a 3-month campaign that focuses on Burna Boy as a global artist on the Rise. The Artiste on the Rise programme was initiated to promote a diverse lineup of relevant and revolutionary new voices in music, cut across all genres, and connect them with their fans worldwide through in-product promotion and programming, out-of-home, social and fan events at YouTube Spaces.

Last year, Burna boy releases the African Giant album, featuring both local and international talents such as Future, Jorja Smith, Angelique Kidjo, Damian Marley, Zlatan, and others. African Giant, which is Burna boy’s fifth studio album, landed number 3 on the Billboard reggae album charts and eventually earned him a Grammy nomination.

Born in Lagos in 1991, Burna Boy began making music when he was just ten years old, and while at school, a fellow classmate gave him a copy of the production software FruityLoops. Armed with these means, he began to create his own beats on an old computer.

After he graduated from school, he moved to London to attend university, but dropped out after two years and moved back to Nigeria. In 2010, the 19-year-old traveled to Nigeria’s southern coast where a mutual acquaintance, producer LeriQ, had some studio space. This marked a period when he began to connect to the music of his native country, having spent most of his youth immersed in American acts like DMX.

He delved into the dancehall and reggae music his father listened to, and the Afrobeat music that his grandfather preferred. As a result of his new discoveries, he created a confluence of genres that would become his signature sound. Alongside LeriQ, they created Like to Party, which marked his rise to prominence, and created a local buzz along the way.

Year 2013 saw the release of his debut studio album, L.I.F.E., which featured guest slots from Wizkid, Timaya, 2Baba, and M.I and drew favorable reviews from the music press.

For his sophomore effort, 2015’s On a Spaceship, he parted ways with both his record company and LeriQ and delivered a record even more diverse than his first. In 2017, he teamed up with producer Juls for the single Rock Your Body. A host of singles followed throughout the year.

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