Burna Boy has been nominated in the Best Global Music Album category at Sunday’s awards for his 2020 album “Twice as Tall”, alongside four others including Malian band Tinariwen and US band Antibalas.
This is Burna’s second nomination following his previous nomination last in 2019 with his previous album, “African Giant” for the best world music album category. Even though he did not win last year, he is likely to have a better chance this year.
The singer had sold out London’s Wembley Arena and broken a UK music chart record with his Afropop and dancehall style.
UK-based Nigerian music critic Dami Ajayi says “This year’s nomination is very specific,”. “There was a plan (by Burna Boy) to get another Grammy nomination.”
Ajayi said it was an intentional decision to get US record executive Sean Diddy Combs as executive producer and to feature world music star Youssou N’dour.
But Burna Boy seems to have always been making deliberate choices.
“Unlike a lot of other people, I’ve had to go through never-ending steps to get here, whereas other people have taken the elevator up,” he told GQ in an interview published in March 2020.
“I’ve always been too heavy for that kind of elevator, so I had to take the stairs. Now I know every floor and everything on every floor.”
Burna Boy followed the release of LIFE with two albums; “Redemption” in 2015 and “Outside” in 2018 that included Kanye West endorsed song, “Ye”.
In the video, which has over 129 million views on YouTube, the marijuana-toking Burna Boy puffs smoke into the camera while whipping his dreadlocked hair back and forth.
“He seems to have solidified his style,” Ajayi says about the singer’s evolution. “It is so unique, so cutting, and so irresistible. You can say it is the finest fusion of contemporary African music we have at the moment.”
If songs like “Ye” opened international doors for Burna Boy, it was his 2019 “African Giant” album that proved he had arrived.
It got him his first Grammy Nomination, an MTV EMA, and an honourable mention from former US president Barack Obama as one of his favourite songs in 2019.
The album was largely centred on social commentary around governance and classism, bringing comparisons to iconic Nigerian singer Fela Kuti.
Fela Kuti, a Nigerian and West African music icon, was as well-known for his funky, jazzy Afrofusion music as his political activism and social commentary.
“The guy is obsessed with Fela,” Ajayi said. “He samples Fela very closely.”
Burna Boy’s grandfather was once Fela Kuti’s manager, and his mother Bose Ogulu, who is now his manager, left her job as a translator to work with Kuti.
Like Fela, Burna Boy has refused to be silent.