Burna Boy
Burna Boy

Burna Boy: Threats, chances of Nigeria’s only Grammy Award nominee

NEWS DIGEST – Remember the Coachella controversy involving Burna Boy and the organizers on social media? That was one of the most defining moments of Burna Boy’s career. He introduced himself to the world, portraying his pride and heritage as an African Giant. The News Digest reviews chances, threats of the African Giant winning the prestigious Grammy Award 2020.

Shortly after the Coachella line-up was announced, he complained on Instagram that his name was “so small” on the festival poster, urging them to “fix this quick please”.

He said: “I really appreciate you. But I don’t appreciate the way my name is written so small on your bill.

“I am an African giant and will not be reduced to whatever that tiny writing means.”

This was a bold statement that caught the attention of everyone and Burna Boy has not failed one bit as he has always leaved up to the hype, setting up a unique platform for his music, brand and personality.

When the nominees for the 2020 Grammy Awards were announced on Wednesday, Burna Boy, Nigeria’s Afro-pop or Afro-fusion sensation as he would like to call it, got nominated for the “Best World Music Album”.

A feat music critic and Burna Boys’ music colleagues have lauded as a huge milestone for the Nigerian music industry.

The nomination makes Burna Boy the first home-grown Afro-pop star to get a nod at the Grammy’s for an original work done excluding features or affiliation.

He also became the fourth indigenous Nigerian musician (making music in Nigeria) behind King Sunny Ade, Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti to get a Grammy nomination.

Burna Boy’s rise to international stardom is no doubt one of the biggest revelation in Africa at present.

His prolific Afro-fusion sound with a dynamic mix of hip-hop and r’n’b cannot be rivalled anywhere in Africa.

So, when we thought Wizkid and Davido were the forerunners to bag a Grammy nomination for their original song or album, Burna Boy from nowhere beats the odds with a Grammy nomination.

It goes to show that the Afro-pop genre is finally gaining acceptance across borders, and it is a huge achievement for the Nigerian music industry.

However, the likes of 2face Idibia, D’banj, P-Square were instrumental to promoting the Afro-pop sound and popularizing this genre across borders.

From 2face winning the MtvBase Europe Awards, the World Music Awards, and the BET Awards and D’banj replicating the same feat, as well as getting signed up by one of America’s leading record label Good Music owned by Kanye West, the Nigerian Afro-pop sound is no doubt one of the fastest growing and influential genre in world music.

Nonetheless, many have tipped Burna Boy as favourite to win the “Best World Music Album” at the Grammys.

In this piece, we will be taking a quick look at his chances of landing the prestigious music academy award, his major threats and what might be the outcome.

The Contenders

Burna Boy will slug it out with three other international artistes which are:

Altin Gün for the album GECCE.

Bokanté & Metropole Orkest for the album WHAT HEAT,

Nathalie Joachim with Spektral Quartet for the album FANM D’AYITI, and

Angelique Kidjo for the album CELIA

Burna Boy’s Chances

The category features majorly artistes with alternative music genre different from Burna Boy’s commercial style of music.

This is relatively an advantage for the Nigerian act as he has been able to perform in concerts and having sold out venues under his belt.

This year alone, Burna Boy’s presence in the international scenes is so massive that they have earned him international nominations and awards.

Most notably, is his triumph at the 2019 BET Awards in June where he took home the Best International Act Award. His most recent recognition came in November at the MTV EMA Awards where he won African Act of the year, a feat only 2face, D’banj and Davido has matched, putting him among the pantheon of great legends.

It is also important to note that Burna Boy has sold out a lot of venues in less than a year. Most recently, Burna Boy fired up the Wembley Arena now called the SSE Arena as he became the first Afrobeat star to have a sold-out concert at the SSE Arena.

The SSE Arena, is the ninth largest in the UK with a 12,500-seat facility and London’s second largest indoor arena, after The 02 Arena where Burna Boy also has a sold out concert earlier.

His concert, Burna Boy ‘Live in London’ at the O2 Arena sold out hours before it commenced as the ‘Ye’ crooner gave an electrifying performance with over 20,000 people in attendance.

His ‘African Giant’ album was no exception from the numerous success he has attained this year. Released 27th July, 2019, the album got a wide reception from music critic home and abroad.

Guardian UK gave the album a 4 stars out of 5 rating describing Burna Boys’ pattern thus; “the singer’s boundary-hopping mixture of laid-back Caribbean swagger, Fela Kuti swing and multilingual communiques on a range of concerns”.

Similarly, August Brown of The Los Angeles Times, wrote 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.”

Also Chris Richards of The Washington Post reflected on the album saying Burna Boy uses his voice to “give his heaviest lyrics a sense of levity and optimism”.

He further went on to say: “phrasing always feels fleet, creating a sound that’s incredibly dense and impossibly dainty”.

Canadian Magazine Vice, ranked the album at number 63 on list of the 100 Best Albums of the 2010s, a feat only Burna Boy has enjoyed as an artiste out of Nigeria.

He was also a guest at the Daily Show hosted by celebrity comedian Trevor Noah. He also performed at the Jimmy Fallon show in America.

Interestingly, the African Giant album did well on various album charts. In the UK Album chart, the album debuted on number 16, number 33 in the Canadian Album chart and also making the U.S billboard 200.

Big Threat

Angelique Kidjo is obviously Burna Boy’s biggest threat as she has made the Grammy podium more times than any of the nominees in the category. Kidjo is a legendary figure in the game with a career spanning over three decades.

She has nine nominations and three Grammy Award wins under her belt with the most recent coming in 2016 where she won the award for the same category she is nominated for, alongside Burna Boy this time around.

She got her first nomination as far back as 1994 for her “Agolo” video for Best music video.

Angelique Kidjo CELIA album was released on April 19, 2019, and it’s a tribute album to Cuban singer Celia Cruz. Produced by David Donatien, the album reflects on the life and time of Celia Cruz. The songs on the album were a mix of jazz and salsa likened to the genre that Celia was known for.

The album received a massive appeal as music critics gave positive reviews of the album. The Guardian described the album “magnificent” and it also got a five stars rating from The Financial Times.

Kidjo is heavily loved all over the world for her musical prowess, humanitarian service and philanthropy.

She’s a UNICEF ambassador, and also an AU ambassador for peace. In 2015 she performed at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. In 2018 she performed in France with over 70 head of states in attendance and a television audience of millions to pay tribute to the fallen African soldiers of the World War 1. On August 4, 2019 Kidjo appeared at the Late Night Prom of the BBC in London’s Albert Hall.

She’s an enigma of music, widely respected all over the world and her presence in the same category is a big threat to Burna Boy and she has three Grammy awards to show for it with a further nine nomination.

It’s not going to be a one sided affair as Burna Boy will have Angelique Kidjo to contend with to land the top prize.