Burna Boy looks effortlessly stylish in feature shoot for online store SSENSE as he opens up about the music and black superheroes in a candid interview.
Burna Boy is back again, with an elevated sound and a more mature outlook on life in general. With the success of his latest album, 'Outside', Burna, whose real name is Damini Ogulu, has been given the chance re-write his story.
When he burst onto the Nigerian music scene with his very first single, 'Like to Party', Burna was the breath of fresh air the industry needed, a welcome change from the afro-pop machine churning out homogeneous music. His music was an interesting blend between dancehall, reggae and afro beats and his swagger was seductive. Everyone wanted a piece of Burna Boy.
His career, however, has been punctuated with scandal, the most recent one being the alleged incident with Mr. 2kay who accused Burna Boy of setting him up to be robbed.
With everything ironed out, Burna is keen to go back to what he does best, the music and as he sits down in this revealing interview with SSENSE, we see a Burna who refuses to be defined by his part and chooses to express himself the best way he knows how; through the music.
Burna Boy is styled to perfection in the accompanying editorial on SSENSE. SSENSE, an international fashion e-commerce platform, that specialises in selling products from a selection of independent, luxury and streetwear designers and produces its own original editorial content understands Burna Boy's offbeat style.
Below, Burna is dressed in a luxury Vetements sweater with unique sleeve detailing. He accessorises with his signature gold jewelrey.
Burna Boy holds his head in his hands wearing a Hawaiian print shirt by SSS World Corp shirt and khaki Rick Owens trousers.
Read excerpts from the interview below:
When Burna Boy arrives on set at a Los Angeles photo studio, his personality fills the space. He greets every single person in the room with daps and hugs, sending out positive vibes. In front of the camera, he’s animated, leaping and bending like a superhero on a comic book cover.
What’s most captivating about him, though, are his eyes. Behind big, white sunglasses, they widen when I say something that throws him off guard—like the fact that, when looking at him from a certain angle, sitting in the barber’s chair during a shape-up, he resembles a gangster. “I’m not a gangster,” he says, blunt in hand, smoking swirling in the air. His inflection raises: "I'm a nice guy!" My remark was meant as a compliment.
Born Damini Ogulu, he was raised in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, on the country’s southern coast. The 26-year-old comes from a musical family; his grandfather, at one point, managed Fela Kuti, and as a child Ogulu began making his own beats using FruityLoops—a familiar entry point for this generation of musicians.
After completing high school near Lagos, Ogulu moved to London to further his studies, but it was only after returning to Nigeria that his music career began to take off. He scored his first big hit with “Like To Party” in 2012, and from there began developing a style he calls afrofusion—a infectious blend of afrobeats, dancehall riddims, reggae, and American rap and R&B that’s reflective of his formative influences. He soon became a star at home, performing to crowds of thousands in Nigeria and across the continent. Now, based once more in London, he’s posed to break through globally.
His latest album, Outside, is the most seamless expression of his style to date. Released in late January, it begins with a track called “More Life,” sampled last year on the Drake album of the same title, and is full of buoyant, catchy melodies. It is the work of someone who has found himself as both an artist and as an individual. Throughout our conversation, Ogulu’s sureness in himself, whether we’re discussing his spirituality or his fashion sense, rings out.