Burna Boy, Wizkid’s Grammys: Beyond the excitement, eulogies 

By Ibidunni Banjoko

The excitement, felicitations and eulogies that greeted Burna Boy’s elevation to the exclusive club of Grammy Award Winners are rightly deserved and merited. And the Twice as Tall crooner should bask in the glory of this global recognition. For the very first time, the prestigious award that has eluded Nigerian artists right from the heady days of King Sunny Ade, who was the first Nigerian artiste to be nominated for the awards in 1984 to Femi Kuti, the four times Grammy award nominee in 2002, 2009, 2011, and 2013, ‘The Boy’ has stood on the shoulders of these ‘giants’ to break the jinx and bring the Grammy to ‘Naija’.

That the Nigerian entertainment industry has come of age is to state the obvious. The Nigerian music industry has witnessed exponential growth over the years and with this growth comes a rising hunger for international visibility and dominance.

According to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Nigeria’s Entertainment & Media industry is expected to rise from $4.46 billion in 2018 to $10.5 billion by the end of 2023. And the potentials continue to expand. This obvious fact found convincing expression this year when two outstanding Nigerian and internationally acclaimed Afrobeats stars, Burna Boy and Wizkid, both won awards at the 2021 Grammy. Burna Boy won the Best Global Music Album category while Wizkid won the Best Music Video for his song with Beyoncé; Brown Skin Girl. Interestingly, Burna Boy was nominated in the Best Music Video in 2019.

For the pace-setting artiste whose real name is Damini Ogulu, the journey to the Grammy started when he was nominated for his album, African Giant, in the “World Music Album” category but lost to his fellow African singer and four-time winner, Angelique Kidjo of Benin Republic.

Kidjo dedicated her Grammy to Burna Boy, saying he is among African artists changing the way the continent is perceived. Burna Boy went back to the drawing board. The result was that he was able to craft an album, Twice As Tall, which scaled the hurdles that limited African Giant, gaining the praise of the Recording Academy who described it as a ‘masterclass’. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Academy gave a glowing tribute thus, “He [Burna Boy] 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”. In his acceptance speech, Burna Boy declared that, “This is a big win for my generation of Africans all over the world. This should be a lesson to every African out there: No matter where you are, no matter what you plan to do, you can achieve it”.

For Nigeria, it was a double win at the 2021 Grammy Awards as Wizkid, who was born Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun also did Nigeria proud. The self-styled Star-Boy joined the elitist class of Grammy Award winners when he co-won the Best music Video category with Beyonce with their song, ‘Brown Skin Girl’.

Signposting the importance of the achievement, President Muhammadu Buhari in a congratulatory message wrote, “Congratulations to Burna Boy on being conferred the 2021 Grammy, the world’s most prestigious musical awards. He has made notable contributions in the field of music which have brought glory to Nigerians at home and abroad. We are proud of his path-breaking achievements.”

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, also issued a congratulatory press release on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, via Twitter, to Burna Boy and Wizkid over their wins at the just concluded Grammys. He described the awards as much-deserved and fitting rewards for the persistent hard work of the duo. He said the awards also represented a global endorsement for the Afrobeat genre of music that has propelled Nigeria’s increasing dominance of the music world.

Beyond the felicitations and encomiums, the awards should motivate the awardees and other artistes in the country to strive for excellence and global competitiveness. Now we know it is doable, the expectation is that Nigeria will have more Grammys next year. The Federal Government should also get mileage from the awards. This can be done by incorporating the winners as part of the iconic faces that are employed in marketing the country. Finally, Burna Boy and Wizkid should be appreciated for demonstrating that Nigerians youths are not lazy anyway!


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