The ceremony held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California.
His eloquent language expert and academician mother, Bose Ogulu, also known in Nigerian pop culture as Mama Burna accepted the award on his behalf. The award comes after the release of his latest single, ‘Anybody‘ which looks set to be his third straight hit of 2019.
As things stand, Burna Boy looks set to have the impressive bragging rights of owning two years in a row – an award abstractly bestowed by Nigerian pop culture commentators. The last Nigerian act to have two years in a row was Wizkid in 2011/2012.
In totally unrelated but equally pungent manner, the man is dating beautiful UK rapper, Stefflon Don – he really is winning at this life thing.
How did Burna Boy get here?
2017 was one of those years that Burna Boy didn’t drop a project of any kind. In most years preceding 2017 and most years after 2017, Burna Boy either dropped an EP, an album or a mixtape.
All he did in 2017 was kill features like Airboy‘s ‘Ayepo (Remix,‘ Phyno‘s ‘Link Up‘ and ‘Gbefun One Time‘ by Skales. The year undeniably went to DMW boss, Davido, but Burna set himself up.
One thing stood out for 2017; it was when Burna Boy slowed down his penchant for self-destructive antics. The final straw was the infamous matter of Mr. 2kay vs. Burna Boy.
Outside and Ye
Though Burna’s talent has always been obvious, he’s always been the slightly ubiquitous and forgettable. While mentioning premier Nigerian music talent, the names Davido and Wizkid made the rounds – even Tekno, at one point.
But when the first quarter of 2018 rolled around, Burna Boy dropped his third studio album, Outside and the heatwave initialized. His map couldn’t be traced. The album became an instant fan-favourite during a period Nigerians needed quality albums from their faves.
Although the album’s true quality still polarizes opinions in hushed tunes, its impact can simply not be overstated. On the album was the Phantom-produced smash hit, ‘Ye.’ The song topped a list of top songs of 2018 by Okayplayer and made several other year-end lists for publication like Passion Weiss.
The song was so huge and psychedelic in Nigeria that a few Nigerian youngins jokingly pitched it as the new Nigerian national anthem. While it only gained traction in foreign market after a mix-up with Kanye West‘s album of the same name on streaming platforms, that traction seemed destined – on its own, the song was that good.
An oft-unspoken key part of Burna Boy‘s journey over the past 18 months was his feature on American Rock Band, Fall Out Boy‘s seventh studio album, M A N I A. The album came just seven days before of Burna’s Outside.
He was the only feature entire album and delivered a great verse on the very alternative rock song, ‘Sunshine Riptide.’
On his album, Outside, he also featured Lily Allen on the song, ‘Heaven’s Gate.’ The afro-fusion act also featured on ‘All My Life’ by dance music supergroup and created ‘Steel and Copper, an EP with DJDS.
These collaborations has aided Burna’s upward trajectory into different markets and demographics. Due to his versatility, he became possibly Nigeria’s most attractive collaboration option for foreign acts who craved a genuine presence on their songs.
He wrapped it up with a feature on ‘Location,’ a track off Psychodrama, British rapper, Dave album.
String of hits
‘Ye’ was the biggest Nigerian song of 2018. Burna followed it three more smash hits, ‘Gbona,’ ‘On The Low‘ and ‘Killin Dem’ featuring Zlatan – which is largely a 2019 song.
Although Burna got mobbed at shows by inner-city Nigerian youth through 2018, ‘Killin Dem‘ was a strategic collaboration that further endeared him to the Nigerian streets.
With an imminent album, African Giant, Burna has also added ‘Dangote‘ and ‘Anybody.’
Burna Boy performs at Coachelle wearing Kenneth Ize [Credit: Twitter/ Coachella]
While Burna’s more unsavoury side and ruinous megalomania threatened to ruin his moment on the global stage, he still managed to perform commendably on two weekends Coachella.
His unresponsive crowd during both performances might have confirmed his pointless megalomania to his face that his name is deserving of nothing more than small fonts, but his performance was still a watershed moment for contemporary African music.