It’s interesting that Burna Boy’s new album title, ‘I Told Them,’ reminds me of a personal encounter with him from years ago. Burna Boy, whose real name is Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, is indeed a talented and outspoken artist who has made a significant impact on the music industry, not just in Nigeria but globally.
It’s not uncommon for artists to face skepticism or doubt from their own communities, especially early in their careers. Many artists, including Burna Boy, have faced challenges and criticism before achieving success. It’s inspiring to see him rise to a level where he can confidently say, ‘I told them,’ as it signifies his belief in his talent and his journey to success despite the initial doubts.
I first met Burna Boy in 2011, in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers state, when he was an up-and-coming artist. He had just returned from studying in the United Kingdom and instantly became a fan favorite with his hit track, “Abeg Abeg,” which later appeared on his debut album, L.I.F.E.
At the time, Port Harcourt’s music scene was dominated by Duncan Mighty, but Burna Boy brought a breath of fresh air with his unique style of music, which he described as Afro-Fusion. As a senior entertainment reporter with City People Magazine, I was in Port Harcourt for a show organized by my media house, which featured top artists like Ice Prince, Muma Gee and a host of others.
Ice Prince was the most popular musician in Nigeria at that time, thanks to his hit song ‘Óleku’ , but Burna Boy impressed everyone with his performance. I was immediately struck by his talent and knew that he was going to be a superstar. Over the next year, I kept visiting Port Harcourt regularly to keep up with the latest developments in the city’s music scene.
While I kept tabs on the Port Harcourt music scene, Burna Boy’s name always came up in conversations. Although not known in Lagos, he was already a big name in the oil-rich city. I decided to showcase him to Nigeria by using my platform, and he agreed to an interview.
Eventually, we arranged to have the interview at Aristokrats’s studio, located at Stadium Road, where he was to have a recording session with his then producer, Leriq. Before the interview, he played me an unreleased song called “Touch Your Toes.”
During the interview, Burna Boy told me about his plans to take over Nigeria with his music. He was confident in his ability to become a fan favorite, which he achieved with the release of his debut album L.I.F.E.
After dropping his debut album, L.I.F.E, Burna Boy established himself as a mainstream artist with his hit song “Like to Party.” He continued to push out good music, winning multiple awards, including a Grammy Award. Today, Burna Boy is Nigeria’s number one artist, and his talent knows no bounds. He can comfortably perform several genres of music, and his artistry has earned him a global following.
Burna Boy has gone beyond being just an African artist. He is now an international superstar who sells out tours across the world.
Looking back, I’m proud to have been a part of Burna Boy’s journey to superstardom. It’s been an incredible ride, and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us next.