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Burna Boy Biography, Facts, Personal Life, Music Career, Album, Awards

Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu (born 2 July 1991), known professionally as Burna Boy, is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, and record producer. He rose to stardom in 2012 after releasing “Like to Party”, the lead single from his debut studio album, L.I.F.E (2013). In 2017, Burna Boy signed with Bad Habit/Atlantic Records in the United States and Warner Music Group internationally. His third studio album, Outside, marked his major-label debut.

 

Early life

Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu was born in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. His mother, Bose, worked as a language translator and his father, Samuel, managed a welding company. His maternal grandfather, Benson Idonije, once managed Nigerian multi-instrumentalist Fela Kuti. His mother Bose Ogulu would later become his manager. Ogulu grew up in southern Nigeria and began making his own beats using FruityLoops. 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 an year-long internship at Rhythm 93.7 FM. He launched his music career after returning to Lagos.

 

Personal life

Burna Boy began dating British rapper Stefflon Don in 2018 but they broke up in 2022.

 

Career

2012–2015: L.I.F.E and On a Spaceship

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.

2018: Outside

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 afrobeats, 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.

2019: African Giant

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 & Slims 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.

2020–2021: Twice as Tall

In April 2020, Burna Boy performed in the One World: Together at Home special. On 19 June 2020, Burna Boy was featured on the remix of South African producer Master KG’s viral song “Jerusalema”. Burna Boy used his signature afrobeats style on the song and also partly sings in the isiZulu language. On 30 July 2020, Burna Boy was featured on British singer Sam Smith’s single, “My Oasis”, the lead single from their third studio album, Love Goes. His fifth studio album, Twice as Tall, was released on 14 August 2020. It was executive produced by Diddy and his mother, Bose Ogulu. The album became his highest-charting project, debuting at number one on the Billboard World Albums Chart. On 24 November 2020, Twice as Tall was nominated under the World Music Album category in the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards alongside other entertainers like Antibalas, Bebel Gilberto, Anoushka Shankar and Tianariwen. It was the second consecutive year that Burna Boy receuved a nomination in the category. He won an Edison Award in the World Album category for African Giant, and the Best International Act at the MOBO Awards on 9 December, shaking off competition from Drake, Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Baby and Roddy Ricch.

At the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards held on 15 March 2021, he won the Grammy for Best Global Music album. Burna Boy’s song, “Destiny” was included in the playlist at the inauguration of Joe Biden. He added another achievement to his repertoire at the BET Awards 2021 where he won the Best International Act. With this win, he became the first African artiste to bag three nominations and wins consecutively, having won the BET Award in 2019, 2020 and now in 2021.

On 19 March 2021, Burna Boy was featured on Canadian singer Justin Bieber’s song, “Loved by You”, a track from his sixth studio album, Justice. On 17 September 2021, he was featured on American singer-songwriter Jon Bellion’s single, “I Feel It”, which marks the first musical collaboration between the two, but the latter co-wrote “Loved by You” with Justin Bieber. On 4 June 2022, Burna Boy performed at the Belgravia Sports Stadium in Harare, Zimbabwe where he was allegedly offered, and twice refused, large sums of money to don a ZANU-PF scarf as an endorsement of the Mnangagwa adminstration.

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.

 

Awards

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.

Other 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”
(featuring Zlatan)

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”
(featuring Zlatan)

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”
(featuring Zlatan)

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

 

Controversy

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.

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Written by PH

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