The Different Shades of Burna Boy’s Grammy


The agama lizard praises itself with a nod, whenever it falls from a tree. So, it will not be out of place to celebrate Damini Ogulu aka Burna Boy, who clinched the prestigious Grammy a few days ago. I took notice of him in 2012, when his first single, Like to Party was released. Uniqueness is an asset in any artistic journey and Burna Boy exhibited it from the onset; he sounded quite distinctive, and obviously met a good producer who polished this attribute with the afro-fusion sound, that has become the watershed of his style today. The other reason why this young man deserves all the respect is the painstaking way he has pursued his career. Although he has a great musical background, being the grandson of the famous Benson Idonijie, he did not let his talent becloud the importance of education in that mix. He has to his name great schools in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. Most of all, the controversies he has been enmeshed in as an artiste are the ones I will call ‘necessary’: calling out South African rapper, AKA for promoting xenophobia on the social media and ‘yabbing’ Nigerian youths for standing aloof, while politicians plunder the nation’s wealth, following reports that the office of the Accountant General had been engulfed in fire.

Although Burna Boy is not the first Nigerian to win a Grammy, like many younger folks have been hyping, his, seems to have dwarfed other previous winners due to the rising influence of social media. For the records, many Nigerians have won the award. Worthy of being mentioned here, beside the Sade Adus and Seals of this world, is Babatunde Olatunji, a talented Nigerian drummer, who was part of Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum projects, including the album Planet Drum. The album won the Grammy Award for Best World Music Album of 1991, and that was the first time that category was introduced.   

Nonetheless, Burna’s victory would naturally go a long way in instilling hope and artistic confidence in other Nigerian artistes. Like Davido tweeted, it is a win for the Nigerian culture sector because after all, what 9ice boasted about a few years ago, has happened to the collective music body in the country. Ideally more of such awards will definitely come, and possibly from categories that have broader competitive scope, like Album or Artiste of the Year, beyond the World Music category, our home-bred African artistes seem to have been confined to.

As we celebrate the victory for both Burna Boy and Wiz Kid, it will not be out of place to picture how the typical Nigerian politicians would be seeing this.  Anybody who knows the Nigerian political space will understand that every piece of news, good or bad, can be twisted to make a political point. In view of this, it will not be out of place for the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed to ‘assume’ that the government at the centre has achieved so much including winning two Grammy awards at this year’s event, following ‘the planned rehabilitation of the National Arts Theatre, where the Central Bank of Nigeria is leading a consortium of banks to invest billions of naira in the initiative’.

 Those who have the ears of the President nko? They would not mind placing ads to congratulate President Buhari for the Grammy haul, with some big-big grammar. You could hear that the victory came due to the ‘massive infrastructural development, especially the rail project and the Second Niger Bridge, which will enhance the movement of Nigerians, especially music artistes, who need such projects to compose Grammy-winning songs.’

For the prophets, who are specialists in ‘political predictions’, it is time for them to recall videos of their 2020 prophecy, where they mentioned that ‘God will celebrate Nigeria on the international stage’.

May be that APC-PDP rivalry could also play out with APC chieftains blaming Goodluck Jonathan’s government of misappropriating funds meant for the Nigerian arts sector, which was why the government could not win any international award like the Grammy. On the other hand, Senator Rochas Okorocha could for once wish the reins of governance in Imo State was with him at this time, so he could erect befitting statues for Burna Boy and Wiz Kid, and possibly rename the streets as Grammy Avenue or Afrobeat Crescent.

You know in Nigeria, any ‘rubbish’ is possible, when politics is tucked at the centre of the matter.