Burna Boy (born Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu on July 2, 1991) is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, and record producer. He shot to fame in 2012 with the release of “Like to Party,” the lead single off his debut studio album, L.I.F.E. (2013). Burna Boy signed with Bad Habit/Atlantic Records in the United States and Warner Music Group worldwide in 2017. Outside, his third studio album, marked his major-label debut.
Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu was born in the Nigerian city of Port Harcourt, Rivers State. His mother, Bose, was a language translator, while his father, Samuel, had a welding business. Benson Idonije, his maternal grandpa, once handled Nigerian multi-instrumentalist Fela Kuti. Bose Ogulu, his mother, would eventually become his manager. Ogulu grew up in southern Nigeria and started composing beats with FruityLoops. He went to Corona Secondary School in Agbara (Ogun State) before moving to London to complete his education.
From 2008 to 2009, he studied media technology at the University of Sussex, and from 2009 to 2010, he studied media communications and culture at Oxford Brookes University. He subsequently returned to Port Harcourt and began an internship at Rhythm 93.7 FM for a year. After returning to Lagos, he began his music career.
Burna Boy began dating British rapper Stefflon Don in 2018 but they broke up in 2022.
2012–2015: L.I.F.E and On a Spaceship
Burna Boy’s debut studio album, L.I.F.E, was released on August 12, 2013, after his second mixtape, Burn Identity (2011). On the first day of its release, the album sold 40,000 copies. Uba Pacific later purchased Aristokrat Records’ marketing rights for $10 million. Five singles preceded the album’s release: “Like to Party,” “Tonight,” “Always Love You,” “Run My Race,” and “Yawa Dey.” L.I.F.E was totally produced by Leriq and featured guest performances by 2face Idibia, M.I, Timaya, Olamide, Reminisce, and Wizkid, among others. The album was voted 10th on Nigeria Entertainment Today’s selection of the 12th Best Albums of 2013.
The music on the album was inspired by Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade, and Bob Marley. Music critics praised its production and gave it mostly high reviews. At the 2014 Nigeria Entertainment Awards, it was nominated for Best Album of the Year. L.I.F.E peaked at number seven on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart in August 2013.
Burna Boy parted ways with Aristokrat Records in 2014. Eight months after leaving Aristocrat Records, he formed the record company Spaceship Entertainment in February 2015. On a Spaceship, Burna Boy’s second studio album, was released on November 25, 2015. Redemption, his seven-track debut extended play, was released in September 2016. Its first single, “Pree Me,” was released on Noisey.
Burna Boy was featured on American rock band Fall Out Boy’s song “Sunshine Riptide,” a tune from their seventh studio album, Mania, released January 19, 2018. Outside, his third studio album, was released exactly a week later, on January 26, 2018. Outside is a mixtape that features afrobeats, dancehall, reggae, and road rap. J Hus, Lily Allen, and Mabel make cameo appearances. Outside was preceded by six singles, including “Rock Your Body,” “Streets of Africa,” “Koni Baje,” “Sekkle Down,” “Heaven’s Gate,” and “Ye.”
Leriq, Baba Stiltz, Jae 5, Juls, Chopstix, Steel Banglez, Fred Gibson, Phantom, and FTSE were in charge of its production. The album got positive critical acclaim and was named the best Nigerian album of 2018 by Pulse Nigeria and Nigerian Entertainment Today. At the 2018 Nigeria Entertainment Awards, it was named Album of the Year.
Outside debuted at number three on the Billboard Reggae Albums list in February 2018. The album’s lead hit, “Ye,” topped most Nigerian magazines’ year-end lists as the most popular song of 2018.
Burna Boy performed in front of a sold-out crowd at London’s O2 Academy Brixton on October 7, 2018. He conducted a pop-up event at Red by Little Farm the day before the performance, selling limited boxes of his Space Puffs cereal, as well as personalized notepads, lighters, and graphic tee-shirts. Burna Boy was named a Spotify New Afro Hub Takeover Artist on October 9, 2018. The announcement came three months after he was designated YouTube’s Artist on the Rise.
2019: African Giant
Burna Boy and Mr Eazi were revealed as performers for the 2019 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on January 3, 2019. At the Soundcity MVP Honors Festival, he won four awards, including African Artiste of the Year, Listener’s Choice, and Best Male MVP. Steel & Copper is a four-track joint EP released by Burna Boy and Los Angeles-based electronic duo DJDS on March 21, 2019. It combines the cheerful melodies of Burna Boy with the slinky trap sounds of DJDS. Steel & Copper fuses dancehall and reggae music with Afropop and trap.
Burna Boy won Best International Act at the 2019 BET Awards on June 24, 2019. Burna Boy was named an Apple Music Up Next artist in July 2019. His appearance was followed by a Beats 1 interview with Julie Adenuga and a short documentary. He recorded “Ja Ara E” (Yoruba meaning “smart up” or “use your head”) for Beyoncé’s The Lion King: The Gift soundtrack album and was the only guest musician with their own tune.
African Giant, Burna Boy’s fourth studio album, was released on July 26, 2019. Six singles were released in support of the album: “Gbona,” “On the Low,” “Killin Dem,” “Dangote,” “Anybody,” and “Pull Up.” He started working on the album in 2018 and told Billboard that it is his most personal endeavor to date. He first announced plans for an April 2019 release date and held a private listening session in Los Angeles. Social media users uploaded photos and videos from the listening session. African Giant was originally planned to be a 16-track album. Burna Boy headlined the African Giant Returns tour, the second leg of his African Giant tour, to promote the record.
Burna Boy recorded “My Money, My Baby,” which was included on the Queen & Slim soundtrack album. “My Money, My Baby,” described as a “Afrobeat-tinged track,” incorporates a sample of Fela Kuti’s 1972 classic “Shakara.” Burna Boy appeared alongside English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran on British rapper Stormzy’s single “Own It,” the fourth single off his second studio album, Heavy Is the Head, released November 22, 2019. He became the first Afrobeat musician to sell out the SSE Arena in November 2019. ( formerly known as the Wembley arena). To commemorate his feat, he was presented with a commemorative plaque.
2020–2021: Twice as Tall
Burna Boy will appear in the One World: Together at Home special in April 2020. Burna Boy appeared on the remix of South African producer Master KG’s popular single “Jerusalema” on June 19, 2020. Burna Boy employed his characteristic afrobeats sound on the song, and he also sings in isiZulu. Burna Boy was featured on British singer Sam Smith’s single “My Oasis,” the lead single from their third studio album, Love Goes, on July 30, 2020. Twice as Tall, his fifth studio album, will be released on August 14, 2020. Diddy and his mother, Bose Ogulu, executive produced the film. His highest-charting accomplishment, the album debuted at number one on the Billboard World Albums Chart.
Twice as Tall was nominated in the World Music Album category at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards on November 24, 2020, alongside Antibalas, Bebel Gilberto, Anoushka Shankar, and Tianariwen. Burna Boy received a nomination in the category for the second year in a row. He won an Edison Award in the World Album category for African Giant, as well as Best International Act at the MOBO Awards on December 9, beating out Drake, Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Baby, and Roddy Ricch.
He received the Grammy for Best Global Music Album at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards on March 15, 2021. The song “Destiny” by Burna Boy was featured on the playlist at Joe Biden’s inauguration. He added another accomplishment to his resume when he won Best International Act at the BET Awards 2021. With this triumph, he became the first African musician to have three nominations and wins in a row, having already won the BET Award in 2019, 2020, and 2021.
Burna Boy was featured on Canadian singer Justin Bieber’s song “Loved by You,” a tune from his sixth studio album, Justice, on March 19, 2021. On September 17, 2021, he appeared on American singer-songwriter Jon Bellion’s single “I Feel It,” their first musical collaboration, but the latter co-wrote “Loved by You” with Justin Bieber. Burna Boy performed in the Belgravia Sports Stadium in Harare, Zimbabwe, on June 4, 2022, where he was allegedly given, and twice declined, enormous sums of money to wear a ZANU-PF scarf as a support of the Mnangagwa administration.
2022: Love, Damini
Burna Boy released his sixth studio album, Love, Damini, on 8 July 2022. Two singles were released before the album: “Kilometre” on 29 April 2021, and “Last Last” on 13 May 2022.
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 a Best World Music Album at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards. He was awarded the African Artist of the year at the 2020 VGMA’s. Burna Boy released his fifth studio album, Twice as Tall, in August 2020, which was nominated for the same category at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, making him the first Nigerian artist with back-to-back nominations at the Grammys. In 2021, Twice as Tall won the Best World Music Album at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.
2013: South South Music Awards
2013: Nigeria Entertainment Awards – Best New Act of the Year
2015: Nigeria Entertainment Awards – Album of the Year – L.I.F.E
2015: MTV Africa Music Awards – Best Collaboration – “All Eyes on Me”
(feat. Burna Boy, Da L.E.S, JR)
2015: All Africa Music Awards – Best African Collaboration – “All Eyes on Me”
(feat. Burna Boy, Da L.E.S, JR)
2018: African Musik Magazine Awards (AFRIMMA) – Best African DanceHall/Reggae Act
2018: Nigeria Entertainment Awards – Album of the Year – Outside
2019: Soundcity MVP Awards Festival – Listener’s Choice – Ye
2019: Soundcity MVP Awards Festival – Song of the Year – Ye
2019: BET Awards – Best International Act
2019: The Headies – Artiste of the Year
2019: The Headies – Song of the Year – Ye
2019: The Headies – Best Collaboration – “Killin’ Dem”
2019: Future Awards Africa – Future Award Prize for Music
2019: Future Awards Africa – Future Prize for Young Person of the Year
2019: African Muzik Magazine Awards – Song of the Year
2019: African Muzik Magazine Awards – Best Collaboration – “Killin’ Dem”
2019: African Muzik Magazine Awards – Artist of the Year
2019: African Muzik Magazine Awards – Best Male West Africa
2019: All Africa Music Awards – West African Male Artiste of the Year
2019: All Africa Music Awards – Artiste of the Year in Africa
2019: Ghana Music Awards – African Artiste of the Year
2020: Soundcity MVP Awards Festival – Song of the Year – “Killin’ Dem”
2020: Soundcity MVP Awards Festival – African Artiste of The Year
2020: Soundcity MVP Awards Festival – Best Male MVP
2020: Ghana Music Awards – African Artiste of the Year
2020: African Musik Magazine Awards – Crossing Boundaries with Music
2020: African Musik Magazine Awards – Best Collaboration – “Jerusalema Remix”
(Master KG feat. Nomcebo Zikode and Burna Boy)
2020: BET Awards – Best International Act
2020: Edison Award – Best World Album – African Giant
2020: MOBO Awards – Best International Act
2021: Grammy Awards – Best Global Music Album – Twice as Tall
2021: Global Music Awards Africa – Artiste of the Year
2021: BET Awards – Best International Act
2022: NME Awards – Best Solo Act
On 8 June 2022, his armed escorts allegedly shot and wounded two people at a nightclub in Lagos. According to the wife of one of the victims, the incident began after she declined Burna Boy’s invitation to join him at the club’s VIP section. Five security guards affiliated with Burna Boy were arrested and charged with attempted murder. The woman later accused Burna Boy and his family of trying to silence her family with hush money. CCTV footage of the shooting has yet to be released by the club.