Burna Boy is officially a Grammy-nominated singer. It was revealed this week that his album, African Giant, will be a contender in the Best World Music Album category at the 2020 Grammy Awards. The Grammy Award for Best World Music Album is given to recording artists for quality albums in the world music genre. African Giant will be competing against four other albums – Celia (Angelique Kidjo), What Heat (Bokanté & Metropole Orkest), Gece (Altin Gün) and Fanm D’ayiti (Nathalie Joachim). Social media has been buzzing with the news, and several Nigerian celebrities have sent congratulations. A Grammy nomination is the kind of recognition Burna Boy has diligently pursued since the beginning of his industrious career.
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“If anybody does not want to soji, hit him with something,” is one of the most striking lines on the African Giant album. Burna Boy sings the words in pidgin English, but if you listen closely, you can’t miss what he’s saying. The words have been blasting through speakers and floating on airwaves nonstop since Burna Boy released African Giant earlier this year. If you’ve heard the song Anybody, then you’ve probably sang the words yourself. The intro is unforgettable. After 20 seconds of intoxicating percussions and a sick, jazzy beat, Burna Boy throws down an arrogant first line: “I don charge my energy, I no get time for no enemy.” The force of Burna Boy’s persona on African Giant shows a new level to his confidence and how much growth he has gone through over the years.
Even though Anybody is a track that stands out on the African Giant album, it is not the only track worth listening to. Dangote is another hard hitter on the album. The song is blunt, relatable and insightful. Burna Boy serves us Nigerian truth on a hot plate: money may never be enough in a society like ours. Dangote presents a case for Burna’s never-ending hustle: If “Dangote still dey find money, who I be?” It’s a good question.
Four other Nigerians have been nominated in the Best World Music Album category before now, but none have brought the award home. King Sunny Ade was nominated in 1984 and 1999 for Synchro System and Odu respectively. In 1998, Babatunde Olatunji’s album Love Drum Talk was nominated, and Seun Kuti received a nomination for Black Times at the Grammy Awards this year. Femi Kuti has been nominated four times: in 2003 for Fight to Win, in 2010 for Day by Day, 2012 for Africa for Africa, and 2014 for No Place for My Dream. If Burna Boy wins in this category next year, he will be the first Nigeria to have won a Grammy in the Best World Music Album category.
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Burna’s mainstream musical career began sometime around 2010. He turned heads when he dropped Tonight and Like To Party, two singles that later appeared on his first album L.I.F.E. L.I.F.E was an unforgettable reggae/dancehall album, a celebration of life, fun and street wisdom. On his second album, On a Spaceship, he re-introduced himself and his interests, and his third album, Outside, was a reflective work of art that set Burna Boy centre stage. African Giant is Burna’s fourth studio album.
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