Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu born on 2 July 1991, known professionally as Burna Boy, is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, rapper, and dancer. He is one of the biggest and most successful African artists.
He rose to prominence in 2012 after releasing “Like to Party”, the lead single from his debut studio album L.I.F.E (2013). In 2017, Burna Boy signed with Bad Habit/Atlantic Records in the United States and Warner Music Group internationally. His third studio album Outside marked his major-label debut. In 2019, he won Best International Act at the 2019 BET Awards, and was announced as an Apple Music Up Next artist. His fourth studio album African Giant was released in July 2019; it won Album of the Year at the 2019 All Africa Music Awards and was nominated for Best World Music Album at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards. He was awarded the African Artist of the year at the 2020 VGMA’s. In 2020, his album Twice as Tall was nominated for the same category at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, making him the first Nigerian with back-to-back nominations at the Grammys. In 2021, he won the award for Best World Music Album at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.
Damini Ogulu was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. His father managed a welding company and his mother worked as a translator. His grandfather Benson Idonije once managed Fela Kuti. His mother Bose Ogulu would later become his manager. Ogulu grew up in southern Nigeria and began making his own beats using FruityLoops. He attended Corona Secondary School in Agbara and relocated to London to further his studies. He later studied Media Technology at the University of Sussex, followed by Media Communications and Culture at Oxford Brookes University.
2012–2015: L.I.F.E and On a Spaceship
Burna Boy’s debut studio album L.I.F.E was released on 12 August 2013, serving as the follow-up to his second mixtape Burn Identity (2011). The album sold 40,000 copies on the first day of its release. Aristokrat Records later sold its marketing rights to Uba Pacific for ₦10 million. The album’s release was preceded by five singles: “Like to Party”, “Tonight”, “Always Love You”, “Run My Race” and “Yawa Dey”.
L.I.F.E was produced entirely by Leriq and features guest artists such as 2face Idibia, M.I, Timaya, Olamide, Reminisce and Wizkid. Nigeria Entertainment Today ranked the album 10th on its list of the 12th Best Albums of 2013. The album’s music draws heavily from the music of Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade and Bob Marley. It received generally positive reviews from music critics, who applauded its production. It was nominated for Best Album of the Year at the 2014 Nigeria Entertainment Awards. In August 2013, L.I.F.E peaked at number 7 on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart.
In 2014, Burna Boy split from Aristokrat records. In February 2015, he founded the record label Spaceship Entertainment eight months after parting ways with Aristocrat Records. Burna Boy released his second album On a Spaceship on 25 November 2015. His 7-track debut EP Redemption was released in September 2016; its lead single “Pree Me” debuted on Noisey.
2018: Outside and O2 Academy Brixton performance
In January 2018, Burna Boy was featured on “Sunshine Riptide”, a track from Fall Out Boy‘s seventh studio album MANIA (2018). He released his third studio album Outside on 26 January 2018. Described as a mixtape, Outside consists mostly of Afrobeats, dancehall, reggae and road rap. It features guest vocals from English musicians J Hus, Lily Allen and Mabel. Outside was supported by six singles: “Rock Your Body”, “Streets of Africa”, “Koni Baje”, “Sekkle Down”, “Heaven’s Gate” and “Ye“. Its production was handled by Leriq, Baba Stiltz, Jae 5, Juls, Chopstix, Steel Banglez, Fred Gibson, Phantom and FTSE. The album received positive critical acclaim and was ranked by Pulse Nigeria and Nigerian Entertainment Today as the best Nigerian album of 2018. It won Album of the Year at the 2018 Nigeria Entertainment Awards. In February 2018, Outside debuted at number 3 on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart. The album’s biggest single “Ye” ended up atop most Nigerian publications year-end list as the biggest song of 2018.
On 7 October 2018, Burna Boy performed before a sold-out crowd at London’s O2 Academy Brixton. A day prior to the show, he held a pop-up event at Red by Little Farm and sold limited boxes of his Space Puffs cereal, as well as custom notepads, lighters and graphic tee-shirts. On 9 October 2018, Burna Boy was announced as one of Spotify‘s New Afro Hub Takeover Artist. The announcement coincided with him being named YouTube’s Artist on the Rise for 3 months.
2019–present: Steel & Copper, African Giant and Twice as Tall
On 3 January 2019, he was announced alongside Mr Eazi as one of the artists performing at the 2019 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. He won four awards at the Soundcity MVP Awards Festival, including African Artiste of the Year, Listener’s Choice and Best Male MVP.
On 21 March 2019, Burna Boy released a 4-track collaborative EP with Los Angeles-based electronic duo DJDS, titled Steel & Copper. It blends Burna Boy’s upbeat melodies with DJDS’ slinky trap beats. Steel & Copper combines elements of dancehall and reggae music with Afropop and trap.
On 24 June 2019, Burna Boy won Best International Act at the 2019 BET Awards. In July 2019, Burna Boy was announced as an Apple Music Up Next artist. His inclusion into the program was accompanied by a Beats 1 interview with Julie Adenuga and a short documentary. He recorded “Ja Ara E” (Yoruba: “wise up” or “use your head”) for Beyoncé‘s The Lion King: The Gift and was the only guest artist with their own track on the soundtrack album.
Burna Boy’s fourth studio album African Giant was released on 26 July 2019. It has been supported by six singles: “Gbona”, “On the Low”, Killin Dem”, “Dangote”, “Anybody” and “Pull Up”. He began recording the album in 2018. He told Billboard magazine the album is his most personal yet. He first revealed plans to release the album in April 2019, and held a private listening session in Los Angeles. Photos and videos from the listening session were shared on social media. African Giant was initially announced as a 16-track album. In order to promote the album, Burna Boy headlined the African Giant Returns tour, the second leg of his African Giant tour. Burna Boy recorded “My Money, My Baby”, a track that appeared on Queen & Slim‘s soundtrack album. Described as an “Afrobeat-tinged track”, “My Money, My Baby” contains a sample of Fela Kuti‘s 1972 song “Shakara”.
In April 2020, Burna Boy performed in the One World: Together at Home special.
On 19 June 2020, following the release of multiple singles during early 2020, by himself and on featured credits, Burna Boy was featured on the remix of South African producer Master KG‘s viral song “Jerusalema“. The remix led to the song entering various charts. Burna Boy utilized his signature Afrobeats style on the song and also partly sings in the isiZulu language.
Burna Boy’s fifth studio album, Twice as Tall, was released on 14 August 2020, executive produced by Diddy and Mama Burna Bose Ogulu. The album became his highest-charting project, debuting at number 1 on the Billboard World Albums Chart.
On The 24th of November 2020, Burna Boy Album ‘Twice As Tall’ was Nominated under the World Music Album category in the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards alongside other entertainers like Antibalas, Bebel Gilberto, Anoushka Shankar and Tianariwen. This is the second year in a row that the singer is getting a nomination in this category. He won an Edison award in the World Album category for African Giant, and the Best International Act at the MOBO Awards on December 9, shaking off stiff competition from Drake, Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Baby and Roddy Ricch.
Burna Boy′s ″Destiny″ was included in the playlist at the Inauguration of Joe Biden.