365 Days. Five Moments. One African Giant.


July 2, 2019

After years of seemingly waddling on the edges of his breakthrough, Burna Boy’s celebrating his 28th birthday as one of, if not the biggest artist out of Nigeria in 2019.

The Port Harcourt-born singer/rapper had a stellar 2018 as we outlined here, and he’s maintained that energy in 2019.

This year, he’s strung together a run of hits and wins that seems endless. With his fourth studio album, “African Giant” scheduled to drop in the second half of this year, there’s no sign he’s letting up anytime soon.

As Burna turns 28, we celebrate his five biggest moments since his last birthday.

  • His Coachella Debut

Rocking a custom design by Kenneth Ize, Burna Boy made his Coachella debut in 2019. The announcement was almost overshadowed by his show of ‘big font energy’ – his way of asking for greater recognition among peers from around the world.

Burna’s set was also polarizing as we reviewed here . In retrospect, it was a welcome sign that stakeholders in the right rooms and audiences had become aware of this rebel’s talent.

  • Winning Artist of The Year at the SoundCity MVP Awards

Once upon a time, the Headies (or the HipHop World Awards as they were once known) were the biggest stamps of a Nigerian artist’s success over the year in review. After many reiterations, the Soundcity MVP awards have emerged as another worthy seal. The 2018 edition was particularly remarkable in that it cosigned an important change of the guard.

After years of Wizkid and Davido dominating best artist awards, Burna Boy was named the artist of the year at a ceremony that felt like an oft-postponed coronation than anything else. The award was an early call that Burna had won 2018.

His mother’s warning to “expect more madness” as she received the award on his behalf was even more poignant. It was a perfect way to let us know that Burna wasn’t planning on relinquishing his new throne anytime soon.

  • “Killin’ Dem” w/ Zlatan Ibile

As 2018 drew to an end, it seemed pretty certain that “Ye” would be the song of the holidays. Despite taking its time to warm its way into our hearts and playlists, the song has reached anthemic proportions by the end of the year.

Then, out of the blue, Burna tapped Zlatan Ibile and the Zanku sound he’d made popular to create “Killin Dem”. The song ensured that Burna had the three biggest songs, “Ye”, “On The Low” and “Killin Dem”, as we entered the December concert season, and set a marker for his 2019. 6 months later and the songs still bangs like a fresh release.

  • Burna Live

Controversy typically follows the biggest artists like moths drawn to a flame. In Burna’s case, however, it has shown up at the most unfortunate moments. One of the sadder instances happened in 2017; after a fairly good year, Burna was scheduled to headline his own showcase, “The Burna Boy Concert”.

However, the show was suffocated by allegations that Burna had sent thugs to harass fellow PH singer, Mr 2kay. The police soon intervened and Burna appeared in court. After days of uncertainty, the show was cancelled. In retrospect, it would go on to mean next to nothing.

Burna Boy pulled off an even better year next time around. As 2018 drew to a close, Burna announced “Burna Live”. This time, fate dealt him a better hand. He might have been four hours late to his own show but when the man climbed on stage, his people claimed him, in screams of “Burna”, “Rankin” and all the other nicknames he has come to be known by. An ascension five years in the making was complete.

  • Winning Best International Act at the 2019 BET Awards

Award shows have become notorious over time for going off-script. Popular examples include Kanye West’s outburst at the VMAs and Burna’s walk-out after being denied the award for the Next Rated Category at the 2012 Headies. Burna’s nomination for the 2019 BET Awards was expected. The events that followed his announcement as the winner of the “Best International Artiste” award were anything but.

Noticing that her son was missing from the hall, Burna’s momager. Bose Ogulu took the stage to receive the award on her son’s behalf. The final words of her brief speech – “Every black person should please remember that You were Africans before you were anything else” – have become a watchword on Malcolm X’s Internet.

It’s Burna’s day; but Mama Burna deserves all the roses too.

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