This article was originally published on March 18th, 2019.
Among Damini Ogulu’s many accomplishments, it is probably this tune that would earn the loudest chorus if you began to hum it in the streets of Kigali.
The single officially called ‘On the Low’ – but affectionately known as ‘Angelina’ amongst most Rwandans – took the world by storm, garnering 19 million views in 4 months, and still counting.
His latest and third studio album, Outside, debuted at #3 on Billboard’s top reggae charts, despite not being a reggae album. His singles have been sampled by heavy-hitters like Drake, and his fashion sense featured in Vogue Magazine. And his year is just getting started.
Born on July 2nd, 1991 in the bustling city of Port Harcourt, south-east Nigeria, Burna Boy née Damini Ogulu, the eldest of three siblings and the only boy, was already stepping out to the beat of his own drum.
Artistically-inclined, he picked up the celebrated fashion sense of his hometown and the musical influence of icons before him: the revolutionary mindset of Fela Kuti, the rock-stardom of Jimi Hendrix, the rhythms of the dancehall don Super Cat.
Armed with a Fruity Loops beat machine, he began making music. He started a band called Def Code as a secondary school student; years later, he returned as the global phenom to perform at the school’s 50th anniversary.
Image courtesy of @burnaboygram (IG)
It seems he always knew he would end up in, or directing, the spotlight: he studied media in the UK, living in the the heavy Caribbean flavors of Brixton, before returning home to Nigeria where he launched his own record label, Spaceship Entertainment.
From the time of his debut album in 2013, L.I.F.E, Burna Boy has established himself as the kind of singer/songwriter who could make you “Rock Your Body” on the dance floor as well as speak to the social ills that plague his country and Continent, such as with his latest release, “Dangote”. One gets a sense that for Burna, art mimics life, and life mimics art.
And it shows: his music videos are a visual performance art. And his songs, despite being in patois, are a smooth-as-butter fusion of so many cultures no one quite knows where to place him, but everyone has heard of him – and are humming his tunes.
And I suspect, that’s just how he likes it.
Be sure not to miss Burna Boy’s first concert in Rwanda, on March 23rd at Intare Conference Arena.
You can also purchase your tickets, here