Burna Boy on Sunday night won a category of the Grammy, which eluded King Sunny Ade and Femi Anikulapo-Kuti. Wizkid also got a Grammy for his collaboration with Beyonce. Nigerians have been ecstatic since, writes Assistant Entertainment Editor GBENGA BADA
In 1991, the Recording Academy created a fresh category to cater to music genres across the world and it was named Grammy Award for Best World Music Album. Two Nigerians, Sikiru Adepoju and Babatunde Olatunji, made history after joining Mickey Hart’s team of percussionists from around the world to win the maiden award in the same year. Adepoju and Olatunji got themselves a Grammy for their collaboration with Hart on his award-winning album, Planet Drum.
Since then at least three global entertainers of Nigerian descent have also won the prestigious Grammys. From Sade Adu to Henry Olusegun Adeola Samuel (Seal), Lekan Babalola and Hakeem Seriki, the Grammy gongs have been added to the long list of music achievements by these singers of Nigerian descent.
For another 29 years, not one Nigerian was able to win the Best World Music Album category as a solo artist despite securing nominations. Juju legend, King Sunny Ade, Afrobeat maestro, Femi Kuti, and his half-brother, Seun Kuti, Burna Boy got at least one nomination in the category but none was able to convert it to a win.
Like Adepoju and Olatunji, Wizkid and Niniola got nominations for their collaborations with American music stars in 2016 and 2020. Wizkid was co-nominated for his collaboration with Drake on his 2016 project, Views while Niniola was nominated as a composer on Beyonce’s The Lion King: The Gift in 2020.
In 2019, Burna Boy got his first global recognition through a nomination in the 30-year-old Grammy awards category. His first attempt was with his fourth studio album, African Giant, and he lost to Angelique Kidjo who hails from the neighbouring country, Republic of Benin and has a grandmother with Yoruba root.
After his first attempt, Burna Boy and his team realised the world is beginning to tune in and listen to the new and trending Afrobeats. He met with Kidjo and got some lessons which became evident from the theme of the album to features and rollout. Collaborating with some of Africa’s greatest and world’s best in production and writing, Burna Boy released his fifth album, Twice As Tall, to vie for the Grammy World Music Album category again.
In its 29th year, the Grammy category, which was widely referred to as Best World Music Album was renamed Best Global Music Album. And Burna Boy emerged as the first Nigerian living in Nigeria to win the category as a solo music act.
Burna Boy won the category over records by Antibalas (FU Chronicles), Bebel Gilberto (Agora), Anoushka Shankar (Love Letters), and Tinariwen (Amadjar).
Twice As Tall, the winning album and Burna Boy’s fifth studio album, was adjudged one of the best to be recorded by the 29-year-old Nigerian-born Damini Ogulu. The album was released on August 14, 2020, by Spaceship Entertainment, Atlantic Records, and Warner Music. Recording sessions took place in 2020 with Burna Boy, American singer and songwriter Diddy, and Burna Boy’s mum, Bose Ogulu serving as the record’s executive producers. The album is a mixture of Afrobeats, Afrobeat, dancehall, pop, and hip hop.
It was produced primarily by Telz, along with production from Rexxie, Timbaland, and DJDS, among others. The album features guest appearances from Youssou N’Dour, Naughty by Nature, Sauti Sol, Chris Martin, and Stormzy. Its lead single is Wonderful, released on June 26, 2020.
Burna Boy serenades millions of viewers with a four-minute-long performance at the presentation ceremony. His performance joined a long list of performances from award-winning global stars that include Taylor Swift, Mega Thee Stallion, Cardi B, Dua Lipa, Bad Bunny, and Jhay Cortez.
For Burna Boy, it was a double win when he not only won the Grammy Award for Best Global Music Album but also got to perform to millions of viewers, who streamed the virtual ceremony across the world.
With experimental live instrumentation, Burna Boy performed a mix of three of his biggest songs. Two of the songs, ‘Level Up,’ and ‘Onyeka,’ are from his 2020 release, ‘Twice As Tall,’ while the third song, ‘Ye,’ is the hit single of his 2019 effort, ‘African Giant’.
The performance was recorded at the National Arts Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos. The televised performance had Burna Boy switching between scenes and dancers. The performance culminated with the live rendition of his hit song, ‘Ye’.
Many Nigerians had taken to their Twitter handles to erroneously inform and spread false claims that Femi Kuti, Made Kuti, and Tiwa Savage also won a Grammy for themselves.
According to the false narrative, the Kutis and Savage got nominations and were awarded Grammys for their contribution to the British rock band, Coldplay’s album, Everyday Life.
However, the claims were false even though Savage featured on the rock band’s song, ‘Eko,’ while the Kutis featured on another song, ‘Arabesque’. Both songs were featured on the band’s album, Everyday Life, which was up for two nominations – Grammy Award for Best Recording Package and Grammy Award for Album of the year. The rock band lost both awards as Doug Cunningham & Jason Noto’s Vols. 11 & 12 won the Grammy Award for Best Recording Package while Taylor Swift’s ‘Folklore’ won the Grammy Award for Album of the year.
The excitement and new path for Afrobeats were charted with the winning of Wizkid after winning a category at the 63rd edition of Grammy awards.
Burna Boy and Wizkid wins have positioned them as the poster boys of Afrobeats. As Grammy winners, Burna Boy and Wizkid will be at the frontline of the next quest, the global dominance of the genre of music that originated from Nigeria.
In a chat with Pulse, music culture expert and author Jide Taiwo said: “By 2016, it became clear that winning a Grammy for Wizkid and Burna Boy was inevitable, not an “if”- because their music had become global in its outlook.
“Where the predecessors (think 2face, Dbanj, Modenine, eLDee) had taken Nigerian music to the world, Wizzy and Burna have brought the world to Nigerian music.
“The Grammy Awards cemented that this year. It puts our music in good stead in the eyes of the world. It’s broken down doors that the forerunners wedged open before now, allowing their gift to shine a light on the plethora of (budding) stars here.”
Burna Boy, in his acceptance speech, said: “Africa is in the house, this is a big win for my generations of Africans all over the world and this should be a lesson to every African right there, no matter who you are, no matter what you plan to do you can achieve it, no matter where you are from because you are a king. Look at me now, Grammy award-winning Burna Boy.”
Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in his congratulatory message to the duo, said the wins would inspire others.
The minister described the awards as much-deserved and fitting rewards for the persistent hard work of the duo.
He said the awards also represented a global endorsement for the Afrobeats genre of music that has propelled Nigeria’s increasing dominance of the music world.
Mohammed expressed the hope that the clinching of the prestigious awards by the two music stars would not only spur them to greater heights but would also serve as a source of inspiration for others.
Music star Davido, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and Senator Ben Murray Bruce are some of the dignitaries that have reacted to the victories of Wizkid and Burna Boy at the 2021 edition of the Grammy Awards.
“Whichever way you look at it, this is a victory for Nigeria for the culture and for my people! Congrats to our winners! Tule Naija!” Davido tweeted.
Davido’s brother, Adewale Adeleke also wrote, “Congrats @wizkidayo & @burnaboy on your Grammy wins! Representing Naija to the fullest!”
In another tweet, ex-VP Atiku wrote, “Congrats @BurnaBoy! #Grammys. I am delighted and proud as a Nigerian at Wizkid’s Grammy win. Wizkid is the epitome of the talent that abounds in Nigeria. Congrats @wizkidayo.”
In the same vein, former Senate President Bukola Saraki wrote: “Congratulations @Burnaboy and @Wizkidayo! #GRAMMYs #NigeriaToTheWorld.”
Ex-Senator representing Bayelsa East, Ben Murray-Bruce wrote, “Congrats, Burna, on bringing home the #GRAMMYs. Proudly Nigerian. @burnaboy”
Former Kaduna senator, Shehu Sani tweeted: “Congratulations to @burnaboy and @wizkidayo for the #GRAMMYs; Africa has come of age #grammys2021!
“The #GRAMMYs awards for @burnaboy and @wizkidayo formally launched Nigerian Born artists on the advanced global stage. We are proud of them. #grammys2021 #BTSGrammy.”
Other music stars that have hailed Burna Boy and Wizkid’s feats include Seyi Shay, Femi Kuti, DJ Switch, and Mr. Macaroni.
Femi Kuti tweeted: “Congratulations @burnaboy.” Seyi Shay tweeted: “@burnaboy KILLIN DEM!!! Congratulations darling #GRAMMYs #bestgobalmusicalbum #TWICEASTALL.”
DJ Switch said: “Congratulations to Baba NLA @wizkidayo & the African Giant @burnaboy. Very well deserved! We are all so happy, thank you! #GRAMMYs.”
Mr. Macaroni tweeted: “I go show you wonder waa ri wonderful… You no go believe wetin won happen!! African Giant don show us Wonder!! Crown.”
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has described the Grammy award winners as inspiration to Nigerian youths.
The party, in a statement yesterday by the Secretary, Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, celebrated the music icons on their winning the awards at the 63rd 2021 Grammy in Los Angeles, United States of America (USA).
The statement reads: “The All Progressives Congress (APC) celebrates Nigeria’s Afrobeat stars Damini Ogulu (Burna Boy) and Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun (Wizkid) on winning awards at the 63rd 2021 Grammys held in Los Angeles.
“Burna Boy won the Best Global Music Album category with his Twice As Tall album while Wizkid won the Best Music Video for his song with Beyoncé; Brown Skin Girl.
“This is unarguably Nigeria’s biggest moment on the world’s music stage and an affirmation of our artistes and the vibrant afrobeat genre as an international musical force.
“This indeed crowns efforts of Nigerian superstars such as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti who were the main progenitors of afrobeat/Afropop that have become mainstream music all over the world.
“As a party, we are immensely proud that our musical stars are leading the pack of young Africans who are redefining the global music space.
“Burna Boy and Wizkid’s Grammy awards are an inspiration to Nigerian youth as they continue to make their mark in different endeavours. Our youth are our asset. Their creativity, talent, energy, innovation, and drive is positively impacting and changing the world.”
Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, a former Presidential Candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), also joined other Nigerians and Africans in celebrating Nigerian Afrobeat stars: Burna Boy and Wizkid for clinching Grammy Music Awards.
Moghalu, in a statement in Lagos, commended the artistes for their feats at the just concluded Grammy-award event on Saturday in the US.
Moghalu said: “Burna Boy and Wizkid have made Nigeria and Africa proud. This honour shows the level of talents the youth in Nigeria have. I believe others will look at this and draw motivation to strive to be the best in every area of their endeavours.”