Nigeria Afrobeats stars Burna Boy and Wizkid have both won awards at the 2021 Grammys. Burna Boy won the Best Global Music Album category while Wizkid won the Best Music Video for his song with Beyoncé; Brown Skin Girl, from Lion King: The Gift album.
Beyoncé’s daughter Blue Ivy was also a winner on the song. Burna Boy, real name Damini Ogulu, a nominee for a second consecutive year, won with his Twice As Tall album. The 29-year-old beat four others including the Malian band, Tinariwen. The Grammys described Twice As Tall as “a masterclass in the vibe and hustle that have made Burna Boy an international musical force”. “[He] continues to torch limitations, seamlessly blending styles and genres and fearlessly fuelling the fire heating the melting pot of pop, Afrobeat, dancehall, reggae and more,” it said.
The album features a wide range of international artists such as Stormzy, Youssou Ndour, Naughty By Nature, and Chris Martin of Coldplay, and had Sean Combs as executive producer. Second time lucky Burna Boy was nominated in the same category in 2019 – then known as Best World Music Album – but lost out to Angelique Kidjo at the awards ceremony in 2020. However, Kidjo dedicated her win to him, saying: “Burna Boy is among those young artists that come from Africa that is changing the way our continent is perceived and the way that African music is the bedrock of all music.”
Born in Nigeria’s Port Harcourt, Burna Boy released his first album, LIFE, an acronym for Leaving an Impact For Eternity, in 2013. That album was followed by the release of Redemption in 2015 and Outside in 2018 that included the international hit track, Ye. But it was with his 2019 African Giant album that Burna Boy really hit the international scene and earned his first Grammys nomination. Often compared to Nigerian superstar Fela Ransome-Kuti, whose songs Burna has sampled generously, he has become increasingly vocal about social causes in Africa. At the height of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa in 2019, he threatened to never set foot in the country again unless the government took action, although he has since performed in the country. He was also closely involved in the #EndSARS anti-police brutality protests in Nigeria last year, setting up a fund for victims and releasing a song in memory of those killed on 20 October 2020 at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos. He also recently tweeted his support for protesters in Senegal who took to the streets after the arrest of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko.
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