In the final months of 2019, Pulse published a polarizing story. In it, Burna Boy was named as the new poster boy of Afrobeats.
A few weeks later, he was announced as a Grammy nominee. His critically-acclaimed album, African Giant was nominated for the Best World Music Album alongside Altin Gün for Gece, Bokanté & Metropole Orkest Conducted By Jules Buckley for What Heat, Nathalie Joachim With Spektral Quartet for Fanm D'Ayiti, and Angelique Kidjo for Celia.
Fast forward January, Burna Boy lost the category to Angelique Kidjo. While the entire African continent rode hard for the African Giant to bring it home for contemporary African pop, another African - a legend - won it. Ecstatic souls were dampened and dust got kicked in the face of Benin Republic - the preferred African didn't win.
On the other side, members of Wizkid FC who never wanted anybody to win asides their President displayed hate disguised as subtle jokes. Even more ridiculous, ignorantly conjured theories started flying around Twitter NG from very dumb know-nothing disguised as postulators of faux legal theories about why Burna Boy lost.
They argued that Burna Boy lost because he had an excessive amount of samples on his album - try not to laugh at such takes. But I know, they're dumb. Before we get to that, we need to address Burna Boy and the issue of winning a Grammy.
Burna Boy will eventually win a Grammy
Call this a hot take. Call it a prediction. Call it the false pretence from a would-be commentator... Whatever. But the truth is, Burna Boy will eventually win a Grammy for the following reasons;
- His talent is built on an expansive sonic pallete. That means he has not even explored 50% of his immense talent. He got here because his music is expansive and his artistry is built on a vareity. Going forward and as he starts getting mainstream American features, great things will happen for his music.
- Afrobeats will continue to make strides. American music capitalists have taken a punt on it. While the genre definitely has a very weak paid listenership base in Africa, American music capitalists are hoping the novelty of its sound as a potential dominant of mainstream American pop will eventually come off. Asides that, American kind of needs Afrobeats to work for the next three years - its pop scene needs something to feed off. Afrobeats might still not be as successful as dancehall and latin pop, but Burna Boy will succeed.
- He has been subtly marketed and positioned as the face of Afrobeats. That means every recognition coming to that genre is likely to be Burna Boy first and then, the rest of them. It will be similar to how the Recording Academy picked Kendrick Lamar to win awards and Kanye West before him. When the Academy endorses you like they have Burna Boy, you will start winning eventually.
- Call this writer a liar, but it looks like the Recording Academy anointed a new range of artists at the 62nd Grammy Awards. Some of them are Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Finneas and our very own Burna Boy. As time passes, Burna Boy will get other nominations and eventually he will inevitably win. But of course, Billboard Hot 100 or Billboard 200 success for his next album could very well see him win. He didn't win for one major reason at the last Grammy; he was relatively 'new' to the Academy.
In aforementioned article, Pulse wrote that, "2019 started in incredible fashion for Burna Boy and his Ls even became wins. ‘Killin Dem’ which features Zlatan ran Nigeria in the opening months of the year. Then, he released another relative hit in ‘Dangote.’
"Around the close of first quarter 2019, old habits reared ugly heads. First, after he was named alongside Mr. Eazi as one of two Nigerian acts to perform at Coachella 2019, he went on a rant to combat the spelling of his name in small caps. He felt he deserved more - for whatever misguided reason.
"Second, he laughed at Nigerians who were celebrating record deals with foreign record labels. Third, he mocked Nigerian artists for celebrating their streaming milestones. The third led to Burna losing control of his social media pages - now managed by his team.
"While the scanty reception he got his Coachella performances made him realize why his name was spelt in small caps, the infamous “I’m an African Giant” birthed a successful tour and a critically-acclaimed, Grammy-nominated album. What ensued was aggressive marketing for Burna Boy who also worked harder. Even Joe Budden talked about Burna Boy on his viral podcast.
"He made appearances on every major radio and internet show in American media. When his album was released, he even got a Burna Bank to commemorate the currency art for his album, African Giant. The push was as insane as Burna Boy’s quality music. This also led to some heavyweight features - mostly in the UK.
"Even lately, Wretch 32 rapped Burna Boy’s name on a song titled, ‘10/10’ featuring Giggs. This level of push, brilliance and impact have culminated a Grammy nomination for Best World Music Album and he might just win it. If he does, he will mark an era that truly signifies American capitalist dedication to afrobeats.
"The major features are no longer going to Wizkid. Most of the major label placements now go to Burna Boy - especially in the UK. Recently, he also had the privilege of an NPR Tiny Desk appearance. Davido gets some high class features, but the Burna Boy push is immense. No afrobeats act has ever seen this level of push.
"In 2019, he has also won BET Awards and MTV European Music Awards."
The truth is; Burna Boy is just getting started.
On claims of excessive songwriting and sampling by Burna Boy
After Burna Boy lost the Grammy to Angeliqie Kidjo, some self-appointed music professors who actually know nothing about music dropped hot takes. As noted earlier, they argued that Burna Boy didn't win because his album, African Giant contained an excessive amount of sampling. Thus, it lacked originality.
Wait for it... Angelique Kidjo's album that won is 100% Celia Cruz's work that Angelique Kidjo reworked and tweaked. Kanye West has won over 20 Grammys. All of his major Grammy-winning albums are dipped in samples. In fact, you will seldom find a quality album without some form of interpolation or sample.
Thus, those takes are dumb like its originators.