Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu popularly known as Burna Boy or Oluwaburna is a Nigerian Afrobeat and reggae-dancehall singer, songwriter, stage performer and a recording artist. He emerged one of Nigeria’s fast rising star with his fusion of dancehall, reggae, Afro-beat, and pop.
Early life and background of Burna Boy
Born 2nd July, 1991 in Ahoada, PortHarcourt to Mr and Mrs Ogulu. His father owned a welding company while his mum worked as a translator. He is the only son of his parents and eldest of three siblings (all females). His grandfather Benson Idonije was legendary King of Afrobeat, Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s manager. Burna Boy attended Montessori International School, from where he moved to Corona Secondary school, Agbara for his secondary school education.
He began making music at just ten years old when a fellow classmate at school gave him a copy of the production software FruityLoops. While at Corona school, Burna Boy founded and led a high school band called “Def Code” and headlined a performance at the national stadium as one of the highlights of the 50th anniversary of Corona schools. At the age of 15, Burna Boy got his first tattoo. He has more than 12 tattoos. One of the tattoos is that of his role model, Fela Kuti. In an interview with a media house, he stated that the tattoos are a representative of him artistically.
On completion of his secondary school education, he went ahead to study Media Technology at the University of Sussex in United Kingdom from 2008 to 2009. He later transferred to Oxford Brooke University before relocating back to Nigeria to kick-start his music career. The name Burna Boy came from the star’s superhero aspirations. The comic lover had always fancied himself to be a superhero with his own superhero name, so he settled for Burna.
Burna Boy’s Music Career
He started music professionally in 2010. His first studio record was at Leriq Treehouse Studio Port Harcourt and his first gig on stage was in December at the Calabar Carnival. The LeriQ-produced 2012 single “Like to Party” proved to be his breakout track and paved the way for his full-length debut, L.I.F.E, a year later. L.I.F.E. ( Leaving an Impact for Eternity) featured guest artists such as 2face Idibia, M.I, Timaya, Olamide, Reminisce and Wizkid. The album sold over 50 000 copies on the first day of release.
Nigeria Entertainment Today ranked the album 10th on its list of the 12th Best Albums of 2013. The album was inspired by the music of Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade and Bob Marley. In August 2013, L.I.F.E peaked at number 7 on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart. In 2015, Burna Boy created his own record label called “Spaceship Entertainment.” He released his second debut studio album under his record label “Spaceship Entertainment” on 25th November 2015. In September 2016, he released a 7-Track E.P. titled Redemption.
Dropping the Lily Allen-aided single “Heaven’s Gate” in early January 2018, Burna delivered his third album, Outside, later that month.
He returned a year later with the single “Killin Dem,” a collaboration with Zlatan. Along with additional singles like “Dangote” and “On the Low,” it was later included on his fourth album, African Giant, which was released in July 2019. It has been supported by six singles: “Gbona“, “On the Low”, Killin Dem”, “Dangote”, “Anybody” and “Pull Up“. He began recording the album in 2018. His collaboration with AKA, Da Les and JR is one of the biggest collaborations of his career.
On 3rd January 2019, Burna Boy was announced alongside with Mr Eazi to be one of the artists performing on Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. On March 21, 2019, he released a four-track collaborative EP which was done in collaboration with LA-based electronic duo DJDS, entitled Steel & Copper.
He is the face of Martell Cognac and Glo in which he is paid millions of naira.
Burna Boy’s Relationship
Burna Boy was alleged to have a baby with Uju Stella Johnson. He refuted the claims of him fathering a child. He is currently dating British rapper, Steflon Don and the relationship has been on and off. It was rumoured that Burna Boy had an affair with Gambian born, Princess Shyngle. This rumour threatened his relationship with Steflon Don.
Awards and nominations
In 2018, Burna Boy won four awards at the Soundcity Music Video Awards which includes African Artist of the Year and Song of the Year for his 2018 hit single “Ye”.
In 2013, Burna Boy won Best New Act of the Year at the Nigeria Entertainment Awards.
In 2014, Burna Boy won Best New Act at the MTV Africa Music Awards.
In 2015, Burna Boy won Best Pop Artist of the Year at the Headies Award and Nigeria Entertainment Awards.
In 2019, Burna Boy won Listener’s Choice, Best Male MVP, Song of the Year and African Artiste of the Year at the Soundcity MVP Awards.
Burna Boy’s 2014 was a fantastic one as it fetched him four enviable nominations. Similarly, his album, L.I.F.E – Leaving an Impact for Eternity, was nominated for the Album Of The Year and Hip Hop World Revelation of the Year at the 2014 Headies.
The dancer/performer/singer’s L.I.F.E album eventually won the Best Album of the Year at the Nigerian Entertainment Awards held in 2015 while Burna Boy was nominated the Best Pop Artist of the Year at the time event.
In 2019, he received a plaque from the UK’s Academy Music Group for giving a stellar performance at his sold-out show and doing it in a safe way too.
Recently, he was nominated for the Best World Music Album category in the 2020 Grammy Awards. He lost to Angelique Kidjo.
Burna Boy’s Net worth
Presently, Burna Boy is worth about $4 million. He is currently one of the richest, most influential and most widely followed artiste in Nigeria.