Driving down Lagos traffic is one heck of a job, especially if your commute is from the Island to the Mainland in the evening time. Just as the sun with her beam starts to nestle beyond the deep ends of the lagoon, the mass of cars lines up Lagos streets like Christmas lights. As an Editor of a Lifestyle magazine, my commute takes me from my Magodo, Mainland Lagos home to most parts of the Island sourcing hot lifestyle stories. During those long traffic drives, the radio was always a companion, flipping through sports with Brilla FM, Beat FM, Rhythm FM, Cool FM and more. It keeps me abreast of what’s happening in the country and more importantly the music helps me keep my sanity in the midst of insanity that is Lagos traffic. On one of such faithful evenings around 2012, while flipping through the stations, a song comes on ‘You see my dark shades on like I can’t see you, but you know say me fancy you’. The sound was different, the vibe was not the regular, most importantly this was a jam and a half. Who owns the coarse and crisp voice behind this different music? My mind was running wild, I was blown away by the magic of that song “Like to Party” by Burnaboy.
That was my introduction to the music of the enigmatic Damini Ogulu who goes by the stage moniker Burnaboy. In an era where the Nigerian pop scene was littered with copycats and impostors, the Ahoade, Rivers State indigene was a breath of fresh air. Before you could say Burnaboy, the song ‘Like to Party’ was on every playlist, took over the clubs, the radio and a star was born. His brand of pop music was different and his artistic delivery was unequaled. He followed up on the monster hit ‘Like to Party’, with another masterpiece titled ‘Tonight’ and the Burnaboy wave went on the overdrive. He immediately carved a niche for himself with his art and craft and the stirring sound of his music. With every genius comes some bits of eccentricity and Burnaboy was no different, his rise in the industry also came with loads of controversies. But he responded with more good music, say what you may about Burnaboy but you cannot criticize the quality of music he puts out. The grandson of Benson Idonije, the Late Fela Anikulapo’s manager was out there in a different music sphere. A string of hits followed the earlier two songs like ‘Run my race’, ‘Check and Balance’ and ‘Yawa Dey’, the song he told me changed his life.
His smooth patois influenced delivery with his unique voice instantly leaves an impression on you. As he continued to wow the music industry in Nigeria and beyond there was a general consensus that Burnaboy was grossly underrated. His unconventional ways were seen as not cool as the media sucked up to the usual favourites. Awards passed him by like no man’s business as artists without a quarter of his talents were rewarded. However, Damini Ogulu does him and that is what makes him Burnaboy. Finally met this charismatic character in July 2016 when we (Big A Entertainment) brought him to Dallas for a show. Having heard so many stories about him, I was a bit apprehensive of his real character but we kicked it off straight when I picked him up at the airport and we exchanged stories like old friends. Witty, calm and calculative as well as super intelligent, he was as cool as ice. We shared many industry secrets that day and I remember asking him the question “How are you able to stay in your own lane and not follow the trends?”. He smiled, looked up at me and hit a drag of his cannabis sativa and said “Bro, I just like to do me, I don’t care what anybody else is doing, people might not like it but that’s just me”. That hit me deep and I gave him a knowing smile.
Few hours later, he hit the stage to deliver probably one of the most vibrant and energetic performances I have ever seen. This is coming after years of doing tours with different A-list artists. Burnaboy put on a performance I have never seen before. Full of passion, drive and entertainment, he took a packed Dallas crowd through his retinue of hit songs and they yelled for more. We spent 48 hours together that weekend and I saw the talented dude in a different light. He got happy with me and we partied, he got mad at me and he told me his mind and we settled. Burnaboy would say his mind no matter whose ox is gored, he loves his women (with big behind) and weed, he loves his fans but above all he loves music. The passion is always etched on his face whenever he grabs the mic. I have not really heard of a bad Burnaboy performance. I saw the full range of his talent when at about 4:35am after the show, he went on an amazing freestyle in the car on the way back to the hotel. This was pure talent, his ear for music is different and his vibe is totally unique and that is what makes Burnaboy stand out. In 2018, the whole of Nigeria is finally seeing what has always been – Burnaboy is a standout talent. His 2018 Boxing Day concert in Lagos has been rated by many as one of the best in recent times and he is finally winning the love of the people.
With many hit anthems back to back, sold out shows around the world and streaming numbers in the hundreds of millions, Burnaboy is finally being regarded where he belongs. You only need to watch him perform the monster hit “Ye” and see how the fans go wild. His core fans would do anything for him. When he dropped the “Outside” album and embarked on the Outside Tour just a few weeks after, fans were singing along word for word to the new album. Not many artists can do that and as a matter of fact not many artists can do what Burnaboy does artistically and musically. For so long underrated but absolutely loved by those who fete real and ingenious music, he has finally earned his pride of place in the top echelon of Nigerian music. Setting and breaking records, the year 2018 has seen the evolution of the Burnaboy brand. A versatile entertainer who fuses dancehall, Afrobeat, R&B and Hip Hop into one smooth package. His style is just as different and as distinct as you can find. Massive shout out to all the hardworking music stars out there, creating hits after hits. However, the year 2018 is the year of the Bruna. On July 2nd, 1991 a star was born into the family of Mr. and Mrs. Ogulu and the world is seeing the stardom manifest now. Burnaboy can only be set for superstardom as the year 2019 creeps in us.
Editor -African Muzik Magazine
Manager – Big A Entertainment