Burna Boy has managed to court controversy every step of his chequered music career including recurring social media outbursts, one of which was a viral Instagram picture of him brandishing guns and threatening to kill bloggers who were writing negative stories about him.
In 2017, he was accused of being the mastermind behind the attack on Mr. 2Kay in Lagos and after evading the police for a while, he showed up and turned himself in. There are other incidents, but all the time he managed like the proverbial cat with nine lives, to arrive alive.
Burna Boy’s story seems more like a legend told from medieval times, creating an unnatural villain/hero persona. The world over, managing success in the world of showbiz and entertainment has largely been an uphill task especially with people perceived to have personality issues.
Mysteriously, Burna Boy seems to have defied every law of success and downfall. Moving from being recognized as a budding talent to striving to initially achieve albeit unsuccessfully, a level of commercial success expected from a talent like his, Burna Boy; real name Damini Ogulu clawed his way to the top while shrugging of encumbrances and like a stealth hunter, annihilating every obstacle in his way.
If one checks the trajectory, it is almost frightening! Burna Boy reminds me of when Michael Jordan did the unexplainable with his skywalk thereby defying the law of gravity. A mental journey back in time will show clearly that at some point, the odds were heavily stacked against Afro-fusion artiste with some industry watchers even boldly predicting his imminent downfall (I notice they all been quiet lately).
From the melody of ‘Like to Party’, to the banging beats of the more recent ‘Anybody’, and the sultry sounds of ‘Ye’ and ‘Gbona’, Burna Boy has taken the crown, sat on the throne without asking nicely (pun if you will).
How many years from the days when critics were pretty sure Burna was never going to happen? Now he sits cockily up there with the greats; 2019 BET Best International Act award, electrifying Coachella performance, interview and live performance on ‘The Daily Show’ with Trevor Noah, performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, feature as an Apple music Up Next artiste, featured single ‘Ja Ara E’ on Beyonce-curated Lion King soundtrack ‘The Gift’, and several international collaborations.
His latest effort, ‘African Giant’ is already gathering rave reviews with wide acceptance across all divides. The Washington Post in a review of the album written by Chris Richards had this to say; “Burna Boy seemed to have everyone talking this summer. Surfing waves of hype that felt thick with context and backstory, the 28-year-old Nigerian pop phenom’s newest album, “African Giant,” has sparked smart conversations about how today’s globalized popscape is beginning to obsolesce the idea of a foreign star “crossing over” to American audiences. Before the July splashdown of “African Giant,” Burna had already performed at Coachella, won a trophy at June’s BET Awards and landed a spot on Beyoncé’s recent promotional album for “The Lion King.” There’s no crossing over when the world is already listening”.
There is too much to be said when it comes to Burna Boy but one thing is constant; he is right where he belongs and doesn’t look like he wants to leave in a hurry. No one among his peers has matched his rollercoaster ride to stardom at least in more recent memory.
Love him or not, Burna Boy is an enigma of sorts, a story of resilience, symbol of sheer African doggedness, a poster boy for those who pioneered crossing musical divides.
If you ask me; Burna Boy is not an African Giant. Burna Boy is a musical god because even giants bow before the gods!