How Fela inspired Burna Boy to stardom

Burna Boy sets record, Burna Boy’s single “Ye”, certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA),

It is quite evident that Burna Boy is the cynosure of all eyes, particularly on the African continent as he continue to prove to sceptics he is no fluke. From his Grammy nomination to his 2019 BET win amidst several other accolades, Burna Boy has proven that he is no ordinary entertainer. However, unberknown to some is the role played by the late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, in the life as well as the success story of Burna Boy.

The Grammys Awards winner was only six years old when Anikulapo-Kuti passed on in August 1997, however, the aura of the Abani Eda around him was strong enough to propel him into stardom.

The 28-year-old performer once said that the late Afrobeat legend was his hero. “Everyone’s got their hero. For me, that’s my hero”, Burna Boy said.

Fela was once managed by Burna Boy’s grandfather, while his mother, Bose Ogulu, was Fela’s dancer.The Rivers State-born singer, has always been a student of the Fela ideology. His style of music and even stage performances are inspired by the life of Fela.

Few years ago, Burna Boy was criticised when he appeared on stage at Felabration wearing only his underpants, a move that was symptomatic with the late music legend. Fela’s sound and lyrics are said to be present in Burna Boy’s music to the excitement of fans.

One of the things that has worked for Burna Boy has been the involvement of his family in his brand. From his mother who has been his on-and-off manager since the beginning of his career, to the quality advice he receives from his grandfather, Benson Idonije, who was at some point Fela’s manager, Burna Boy has always had his family around.

Burna Boy is a complete artiste. Quite unassuming but gets possessed once he steps on stage. He isn’t just a good singer but equally an amazing dancer which gets his fans – and critics – excited. And to improve on his craft, he has over the years managed to be very professional. When he started out, he was managed by his mum who is still very much involved but when he needed to up his game, the singer simply abandoned sentiments by dropping his mum and picking a professional management team to handle him. His productions have also always been superb.

Damini Ogulu was born in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. His father managed a welding company and his mother worked as a translator. His grandfather was Benson Idonije. He grew up in southern Nigeria and began making his own beats using Afro Fussion. He attended Corona Secondary School in Agbara, Ogun State. He later relocated to London for further studies. He enrolled to study Media Technology at the University of Sussex, followed by Media Communications and Culture at Oxford Brookes University .

His third studio album, Outside, marked his major-label debut. In 2019, he won Best International Act at 2019 BET Awards and was announced as an Apple Music Upcoming Artist. His fourth studio album, African Giants, was released in July 2019; it won Album of the Year at the 2019 All African Music Awards and was nominated for Best World Music Album at the 62nd Awards. He was awarded the African Artist of the year at the 2020 VGMA’s.

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In 2020, his album” Twice As Tall “was nominated for the same category at the 63rd Grammy Awards, making him the first Nigerian with back-to-back nominations at the Grammy while in 2021, he won the award for best world music awards at the 63rd Grammy.

Meanwhile, prominent musicians in the country have continued to congratulate the world class Afro- Fussion music creator. The Oyo State “Governor ” of the Performing Musicians Employees Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Taiwo Omotunde, described the achievement as victory for all African musicians and specifically to the glory of Nigeria music .

He said,”That achievement is saying a lot about us as a Third World country and despite the biasis against the black man and African musicians, we can still stand tall make in the world music stage. It is evident that we Africans have something to offer to the world and Burna Boy has proven that our music is unique, there is no way we can play white man’s music and be like them. It is our own music that we have to sell. And kudos to our past leaders in the music industry who have attempted it before, reaching the world stage and they did not fail.

“Now these guys have proven that they can take our music to the world stage. So I am happy and it is encouraging to all musicians. What we all need to do is to put our music together, drive it and someday the world will acknowledge.”

On his part, an ace Fuji musician, Taye Currency, speaking through his publicist, Temitope Eluyefa, said the award is a welcome development in not just for the hip-hop world but to the music world in Nigeria and Africa. He said, “They have broken the jinx and I must say that these two artistes are hardworking. They are brothers to me and I like them a lot. Other artistes too should work hard for a lot opportunities lies ahead for everyone.”

Similarly, an Ogun State juju music band leader, Sesan Akinpelu, while congratulating Burna Boy and Wizkid called on the Federal Government to accord them national recognition so as to inspire other young ones in the music industry and other spheres of life.

“They have made us proud in the world of music and that will further redeem our image positively to the outside world,” he said.