Here is all you need to know about Burna Boy’s contenders and their nominated albums at the 2021 Grammy Awards [Pulse Review]
Earlier in 2020, Burna Boy's album, African Giant lost the category to Anqelique Kidjo's reimagination of Celia Cruz's music on the eponymous, Celia.
Earlier in 2020, Burna Boy's album, African Giant lost the category to Anqelique Kidjo's reimagination of Celia Cruz's music on the eponymous, Celia. Some of those moments inspired Burna Boy's Twice As Tall. Burna Boy sang about some of that on the opening track to 'Twice As Tall.'
In the category formerly known as 'Best World Music Album' would become 'Best Global Music Album, Burna Boy will compete against Antibalas for Fu Chronicles, Bebe Gilberto for Agora, Anousha Shankar for Love Letters and Tinariwen for Amadjar.
However, who are these people and what type of music do they make? Here is all you need to know about them
Nominated For: Fu Chronicles
Length: 6 Tracks, 48 Minutes
Previous Nomination: 0
Antibalas is an experimental Afrobeat collective from New York. They perform the raw brand of Fela-inspired Afrobeats, complete with the Jazz synchronization and the raw timber of Highlife.
‘Antibalas’ is Spanish for ‘Bulletproof.’ The 15-man collective started out in 1998, after being modeled by Fela’s Africa 70 band. With heavy Cuban and Nigerian influences, the music is delivered with Nigerian idiosyncrasies in language [Yoruba and Pidgin], style, adlibs, expletives and vocal mannerisms.
The band has released over 25 albums and the 6-track Fu Chronicles is their latest. The album documents socio-political topics of corruption, pan-Africanism, societal conflict and ultimate prices of the struggle. It is rich in instrumentation with high chord progressions for a layered sonic experience.
‘Fu Chronicles’ ratings: 8.7/10
Is ‘Fu Chronicle’ worth a listen? Absolutely
Nominated For: Agora
Length: 11 songs, 39 minutes
Genre: New-age Jazz, R&B
Previous Nomination: 3
Bebe Gilberto is the 55-year-old daughter of Bossa Nova legend, Joan Gilberto and she is Brazilian-American. Agora is her fourth Grammy nomination without a win and her first album in six years.
Speaking with Apple Music, Gilberto says, “I think about music all the time. Now that I have a puppy for example, I already thought about maybe five songs for her.”
The album was created at different points in her life before she finally decided to sit down with her long-time musical partner, Thomas Bartlett. ‘Tao Bom’ and ‘Agora’ were made almost immediately after they sat down to make music while ‘Cliche’ was made two days before her father’s death.
Delivered in her native Brazilian tongue, the album is morose and very experiential, albeit woozy. It also exemplifies the nomadic and tragic roots of the album. Parts of the album were inspired by the death of her parents while others came on a trip to Puglia, Italy. This album is an acquired taste, however.
‘Agora’ ratings: 8.0/10
Is ‘Agora’ worth a listen? Yes, but it’s not for everybody.
Nominated For: Love Letters
Length: 6 Tracks
Previous Nomination: 6
Anoushka Shankar has been nominated in this category six times without a win. This would be her seventh nomination. The daughter of Ravi Shankar and sister of Norah Jones, both Grammy winners looks like the favourite for this year. However, other music lovers strongly favour Antibalas as well.
Love Letters is Indian vocalist, Shilpa Rao, Cuban Twin sensation, Ibeyi, Alev Lenz and Ayanna.
Shankar is known for playing the Sitar. Off the back of her divorce in 2019, the EP is a bridge between impressive instrumentation, deft pop-esque musicality and introspective lyrics that document the end of a relationship while pondering coping mechanisms.
‘Love Letters’ ratings: 8.2/10
Is ‘Love Letters’ worth a listen? Absolutely
Nominated For: Amadjar
Length: 13 songs, 54 minutes
Previous Nomination: 3, 1 win
Tinariwen is a Tuareg group from Mali; they were formed in 1979. In 2011, they won in this category with their album, Tassili.
Amadjar is Tuareg for ‘The foreign or unknown traveller.’ The album was inspired by the group’s inability to return home due to sectarian violence and islamic militancy after their 2018 tour. The group’s founder, Ibrahim Al Lamida, saw his father executed in 1963 while Abdallah Al Lamida was kidnapped in 2013.
All Music reports that, “The group instead decamped in Morocco and embarked on a multi-month journey through Western Sahara and Mauritania, collaborating with local musicians at several stops along the way and writing songs while camped out in the desert.”
Pop Matters has described this group as the foremost band to put Saharan music on the map. On this album, they say true to their truth as they retain the heavy socio-political hue to their music. But this time, the music reflects the nomadic tendencies which birthed it.
‘Amadjar’ ratings: 9.0/10
Is ‘Amadjar’ worth a listen? Absolutely, but language might be a barrier.
Who is likely to win?
Nobody knows. However, Burna Boy’s chances of winning are definitely higher than last year’s, when he got a nod for the first time ever.
One thing that Burna Boy has in his favour is the weight of American capitalism, which seems focused on African music and African pop culture themes. There seems an intent to get Afrobeats through the barriers of American culture and a Grammy will go a long way to ensure that.
However, Tinariwen is also African and on their third nomination with one win. There is also Bebel Gilberto who is on her fourth nomination without a win. Anoushka Shankar is on her seventh nod without a win as well. While it’s their first nod, a lot of music pundits across the American industry seem to favour ‘Fu Chronicles’ by Antibalas.
No pundit is saying that Burna Boy doesn't deserve it - they all think 'Twice As Tall' is a fabulous album that deserves its place. However, they all seems to think that a Burna Boy win would be hugely surprising, considering the people he's up against.
After a neutral listener listens to all the albums in this category, he or she would find it hard to definitely say that Burna Boy would definitely win. But even if Burna Boy doesn’t win on Sunday, he will eventually win a Grammy. The Academy operates a familiarity model... 'Twice As Tall' will definitely not be Burna Boy's last nomination.
JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!
Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: