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Everything We Know About Burna Boy's New Album 'Love, Damini'
From one of New York's most prominent stages, Afrobeats leading light Burna Boy announced his next offering: 'Love, Damini.' Here's everything we could find about his highly anticipated album.
Burna Boy has a knack for manifesting his dreams into world-beating achievements. He grew up watching the GRAMMYs, with a hunch one day he'd be on that stage. "Africa is in the house, man," Burna remarked, awestruck, upon winning his first golden gramophone at the 2021 GRAMMYs, for his excellent Twice as Tall.
Come 2022, he was headlining New York's prestigious Madison Square Garden — and dropped some pivotal news to the sold-out house. That QR code in little pieces of paper in fans' hands? It led to a preorder link for Burna's new album, Love, Damini. "My real name is Damini," the singer explained, adding that the name means "It's mine" in his language, and the album would be out on July 2, his 31st birthday.
"That's how I like to sign all my letters, because I didn't know the proper [signoff]," the artist born Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu said. "It's a bit personal [because] it's bringing you into my head on my birthday — when you turn 31 and ain't got no kids, everything is going good and bad at the same time. You reflect and then you get as lit as possible. Then you sleep and wake up and reflect again.
"I'm reflecting on everything," the one-time GRAMMY winner and four-time nominee continued. "What I'm doing and what's happening where I'm from. Where I'm from is a part of where I'm going." And if Burna's leap to the GRAMMYs and Madison Square Garden stages is any indication, there's no stopping him from bringing the sounds of Africa to all people.
Here's a rundown of everything GRAMMY.com could find about Love, Damini.
Love, Damini Will Be Out July 2 On Spaceship Via Atlantic & Warner
Like its predecessors — 2019's African Giant and 2020's Twice as Tall — Love, Damini will be released on the Burna-founded label Spaceship Records in conjunction with Atlantic and Warner Music. To the point of Spaceship Records, in a 2020 interview with Music Week, he described his quest for independence and individualism in the music industry.
"For me to consider myself part of an industry would mean I have to dance a certain tune or act a certain way to be able to excel," he said. "I believe I'm an individual who has a message and puts his message in his music and just lets everything else just be everything else. Being part of an industry would mean there are people I'm competing with, none of that applies to me. I'm just me, I'm here on my own. I look left and all I see is me. That's not really an industry, is it?"
Burna Boy Calls Love, Damini "A Personal Body Of Work"
In a tweet on April 29, Burna Boy painted a picture of what global music fans would be getting with the new album. "Love, Damini is a personal body of work," he stated. "It's about the ups and downs, the growth, the L's and W's. I'm excited to share this journey and roll out with you all."
The hashtags included emoji hearts with Ds in them — which would seem to be a reference to his first name, driving home that we're getting music from deep inside this unique artist.
The Cover Of Love, Damini Shows Burna Boy Signing His Name
True to his quote in Billboard, Burna Boy added a personal touch to the album cover with his signature. (Check out the way his Ls and Os loop!) And on Burna Boy's official website, you see the still image in action.
Burna Boy Is Hitting The Road In Support Of Love, Damini
In mid-May, Burna Boy announced he'd be hitting the road in the summer of 2022 behind Love, Damini. The tour begins at the Tipsy Life Beach Party in Bridgetown, Barbados, and moves stateside for gigs in the Midwest, South and East Coast. Click here for dates.
Burna Boy Has Released Two Singles From Love, Damini
We have the first two tastes from the album: the exhilarating, forward-rushing "Kilometre" and whirling "Last Last."
Lyrically, the former is braggadocious: "People think I be Johnny just come/ Like I just got rich, like my money just come, he/ Send them back to where they come from/ For talking like the product of a torn condom."
And the latter carries a certain darkness, suggestive of romantic conflict. The chorus goes "I need Igbo and shayo" — e.g. weed and alcohol — which shows his internal state in the tune.
"Last Last" was produced by Chopstix — who you may remember from African Giant — and features a sample of Toni Braxton’s 2000 hit "He Wasn’t Man Enough," which won a GRAMMY that year for Best Female R&B Performance. The video was directed by Burna himself and features his own house, car and friends.
Overall, though, there's a jubilance in the sound of both "Kilometre" and "Last Last" — the knowledge that the message of Nigeria is about to go further than anyone could imagine. So, for that: thanks, Damini.
Photo: Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
South African Singer Tyla Won The Inaugural Best African Music Performance Category At The 2024 GRAMMYs. What Does It Mean For African Music On The Global Stage?
While Afrobeats and amapiano are certainly crossing over in America, Tyla’s win reflects how Western influence is often necessary for African music to transcend the continent. Is "Water" what African music needs to blossom?
As the first recipient of the inaugural Best African Music Performance GRAMMY Award, South African songstress Tyla has officially etched her name into history. At the 2024 GRAMMYs, the 22-year-old's amapiano-infused Afro pop hit "Water" beat out several long-established names in African music.
While Tyla's success on Music's Biggest Night stresses the Recording Academy's continued efforts to showcase diverse African music, her victory is more of a one-armed hug rather than a full, legs-off-the-ground embrace of African music.
This is chiefly because "Water" was successful and marketable for its use of Western pop influences. While Afrobeats and amapiano are certainly crossing over in America, bestowing a golden gramophone upon an artist whose work reflects familiar sounds is a curious step forward for African music. Still, Tyla's win may foster a greater embrace of the African sound, and the virality and pervasiveness of "Water" propelled the Johannesburg-born singer/songwriter to unheard of heights.
"Water" hit No. 1 on the Billboard U.S. Afrobeats Songs and Hip-Hop/R&B charts, and became the first African song to enter the Billboard Hot 100 since 1968. The track peaked at No. 7, making Tyla the highest-charting African female solo musician in Billboard history. The "Water" dance challenge on TikTok further pushed the track into the global sphere, and the song has been featured in over 1.5 million videos.
The widespread appeal of "Water" is a culmination of elements, notably a fusion of Western pop with subtler amapiano influences. The song melds sleek American R&B and pop compositions with the log drums and piano trails synonymous with the South African amapiano genre.
Indeed, most musical genres (regardless of continent of origin) draw inspiration from and contribute back to each other. The resulting music transcends regional boundaries and appeals globally — and Tyla's "Water" is proof of this resonance. Yet it also reflects how a major Western influence is often necessary for African music to transcend the continent.
The Recording Academy's new Category was designed to highlight "strong elements of African cultural significance," said Shawn Thwaites, Recording Academy Awards Project Manager and author of the Category. In describing eligibility for the Best African Music Performance Category, Thwaites noted that songs must feature "a stylistic intention, song structure, lyrical content and/or musical representation found in Africa and the African diaspora."
Still, when it comes to recognizing lesser known genres — from South Africa's gqom to Tanzania’s singeli and Ghana’s asakaa — the global audience still has a long way to go.
"We need to go deeper and in more detail within different genres of music. We know there are multiple different types of music — hundreds of genres, in fact — coming from Africa and from all 54 countries on the continent," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. told GRAMMY.com after his three trips to the vibrant continent. "I'd love to see us be able to honor even more music from Africa and other areas of the world."
Thwaites hopes that celebrating the diversity of African music will also lead to greater cultural exchange. Eventually, this could lead to "more collaborations between artists of different genres and more artist relations between labels and executives in America," he said.
But for this progression to happen correctly, there has to be a cultural education about the music within the continent and it's something Ghazi Shami, CEO/Founder of Empire Records, Distribution and Publishing — who consulted with the Recording Academy on the new Category — is looking forward to watching develop.
"I think we'll see expanded categories in African music in the years to come, but this is a great start toward recognizing the merits and impact of African music," he told GRAMMY.com prior to the ceremony.
Tyla's GRAMMY win is an exceptional achievement — particularly so for a young African woman. Popular African music has often been skewed towards male artists. At the 2023 GRAMMYs, Tems became the only female solo artist currently living in Nigeria to win a GRAMMY. (Sade, who was born in Nigeria, has won four GRAMMYs but lives in the U.K.)
A similar trend is observed in South Africa, where Miriam Makeba was both Africa's first GRAMMY winner and the country's solo female vocalist to win prior to Tyla.
Tyla's win is a beacon to other young female performers in Africa — including fellow Category nominee Ayra Starr and singer/songwriter and producer Bloody Civilian — proving that female artists can and will be recognized, regardless of their country of origin. It also demonstrates how the distance between African artists and international prestige has been shortened, thus furthering the likelihood of artistic innovation.
Her win is also notable in a Category stacked with Nigerian artists. Of the five nominated works, "Water" is the only one not created by an artist of Nigerian descent or currently living in Nigeria. (Though South African producer Musa Keys is featured on Davido's nominated "UNAVAILABLE.") Although South Africa has a lengthy history at the GRAMMY Awards, Tyla is proof the world is listening to what her country has to offer.
While her fellow nominees — Starr, Burna Boy, Davido, ASAKE & Olamide — and artists such as Wizkid have also shouldered the responsibility for the globalization of popular African music, there is still a long road ahead.
Tyla’s win holds significant promise for African music as pop music. While "Water" certainly has noticeable South African elements, its Western appeal may partially lay in its use of familiar sounds. For Africa to truly win, the world has to embrace African music for what it is, and not for what it's trying to be.
Photo: Hakeem West
Dancehall Artist Teejay Unveils His Most Honest Persona Yet On 'I Am Chippy'
On his debut EP with Warner Music, dancehall artist Teejay shares the chip on his shoulder along with "the story of where I came from and where I’m trying to go."
Dancehall artist Teejay has long used alter egos in his breakout performances. Throughout his artistic journey, Teejay has developed a knack for reinventing his image.
First coming on the scene as wunderkind Timoy, Teejay later took on the moniker Buss Head General, a young adult gritty gunman persona, before evolving into joyful melodies as Uptop Boss and later embracing the sensuous realm as Teejay. On I Am Chippy, his debut EP with Warner Music, Teejay sheds his previous layers and embraces yet another cycle of renewal with the alter ego Chippy.
Released Feb. 2, the nine-track I Am Chippy is brimming with infectious melodies and impactful verses. Featuring collaborations with fellow dancehall artists Tommy Lee Sparta, and Bayka on five tracks, I Am Chippy also sees an infusion of Afrobeats with Davido. Throughout, Teejay showcases his vocal mastery against a backdrop of pulsating basslines, eerie synths, Latin guitars, gunshot sounds, and dance-worthy rhythms.
Much like Teejay himself, each track adopts a distinct persona. Lead single "Dip" promises to get everyone moving, as Chippy enthusiastically declares, "Just like how the world did Drift," his 2023 breakout single that earned him TikTok success, a record deal, and over 78 million plays, everybody is gonna dip for sure."
Despite these successes — or perhaps because of them — Teejay's latest alias, Chippy, can't conceal the chip on his shoulder regarding life's stark realities. Timoy Janeyo Jones was born into a humble family in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and his musical talent was nurtured by his Christian revivalist mother and two brothers with production skills. By age 9, Teejay was already showcasing his musical prowess within the community, on television, and on the radio. While Teejay seemed destined to become an entertainer, reality took a different turn after he left school in the seventh grade.
"Some of us weren't meant to be brought up well, go to good schools, learn, and have a proper education. Some of us grew up in the streets and never had fathers," Teejay reflects. "The EP tells the story of where I'm coming from. Since I was a kid, I wanted to be a star. So that's the most important thing about it…people can actually listen to it and understand the story of where I came from and where I’m trying to go.
Teejay spoke with GRAMMY.com about his new musical chapter, the nuances of dancehall culture, and his efforts to elevate his dancehall peers into the mainstream.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
This album and era took a bit of a turn for you. I think some people were used to your songs for the ladies, like "Unfaithful Games," however, this EP is a bit darker with "gunman chunes." It's like you've been holding your tongue for so long that now you are showing everyone just how bad you really are.
Reggae music was about peace and love and then came dancehall — it's been happening since the 1990s with Shabaa Ranks, Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, and Mad Cobra. I was born in '94, I grew up listening to all these artists so by 2000, that’s all I knew.
The clashing in music, STING [a notorious Jamaican concert where artists lyrically clash], and everything is just culture. Artists go on stage and deejay against each other. This is how we build a fanbase in Jamaica. This is how people know that an artist is lyrically inclined, and to not be played with.
We are not gonna see each other and fight, or anything like that. We're going to perform together and make some money. It’s all about the bread. It's just entertainment.
You recently engaged in a clash with another dancehall artist, Valiant. Clashing is a part of dancehall culture; why was doing a clash important to you?
I mean it's a publicity stunt, right? Both good publicity and bad publicity work sometimes and it has engaged a lot of fans.
I just know how to promote myself. I always wanna be in the front of the class because I wanna learn something so I always practice and know what’s my next move. It's like playing chess.
Can you share the story behind the transition from your early days in the gritty dancehall scene to today, when you're blending more diverse styles?
Before "Drift" and "Unfaithful Games," when Teejay was coming up in Montego Bay, in 2013, it was only grimy dancehall hardcore music. My name was Buss Head General in the beginning and then I decided after some things happened in the past, to grow.
Since I have six kids, I decided to do some good music they can grow up listening to. But I also realized that even the kids love hardcore dancehall songs. I just have to balance the scale.
What's something signature that every song on the EP has?
Every song on the EP has that new sound. It's like a new wave. Artists from Kingston and Jamaica always compete for the new sound. Everybody is saying that the Montegonians have the new sound right now, so I'm just trying to get that particular sound out.
Everything has a vibe to it. The 808 is totally different. The melody and the dynamic of everything changed. We took out words from the songs so you can actually feel the melody more with the beat. That's the craft of it. It’s simple and easy to remember.
Didn’t your mentor Shaggy tell you something about making the words simpler and focusing on amplifying the beat?
Yeah, we went back to the drawing board and changed everything. One of the songs with my son is called "Star." That's my favorite song. Everybody is going to sing that song. It's so understanding! You can hear it clearly and you can understand everything that you sing. It has a melody. It has meaning to it.
You have a lot of features from dancehall artists on the EP; it feels like you're lighting the way for them.
Yeah, because no man is an island. No man can stand alone. Each one helps the other. So if I can use my platform to enlighten other dancehall artists, at least people will remember that Teejay had his shine and he also brought somebody on the latter with him.
United we stand divided we fall. And I can't do it alone. I swear I need help. I need other artists in the genre to understand that this is bigger than us. This is a big picture, and if we can just fill in somewhere on the bottom, the top, or in the middle, it would be good for the culture of dancehall and not just for Teejay.
You got signed to Warner Music in 2023. Was getting signed to a U.S. label one of your dreams?
It was always one of my dreams because I'm a lover of music and I realized that people in Jamaica don't buy EPs — or albums, much less. It’s like time is evolving and people in Jamaica are not evolving with it. They will sit and wait for the YouTube link or something to stream it.
We don't have proper A&R, we don't have proper lawyers, but now I have the opportunity to work with these wonderful people, these lovely people, so let’s just do it. Don't just sit and think about getting the No. 1 trending spot on YouTube in Jamaica. It's bigger than that. It's bigger than me. It's bigger than all of us.
How did the Latin-infused "Twerk" on I Am Chippy come about?
Well, "Twerk" is for the ladies; it was inspired by Busta Rhymes' "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See." It has the same feeling along with [[Santana"Maria, Maria, you remind me of a Westside story."
That song was produced by DJ Frass Records. Some producers have the experience and the wisdom to know what people want to hear. We were at the Airbnb chilling and he said, "Yo, I have a new rhythm I think you would like." I said "Run the rhythm, turn it up!" As soon as I heard it, I was like, "Yo this bad, this sick, this crazy! Load it up in the studio!"
I don't write, I just smoke and drink sometimes and then I just get the inspiration [for a song] based on maybe seeing what a friend or family member is going through. I sing about it so it can feel real.
You dropped out of school in seventh grade to pursue music. That is really young. What do you wish you knew then that you know now?
Honestly, I always wanna learn. Back then, music was the only thing for me. That's why, now, I make sure that all my kids go to good schools. I tell them that they need their education.
Whenever I'm in a conversation, I try not to say much. I listen to what people say so I can learn or add up things. I read a lot. Most of the time if I'm not doing anything, I try to read a book just to learn something.
I think that I’m far better off than most people who have subjects and degrees. I'm not saying this for kids to feel like, oh, you can do what Chippy did. No, not everybody has the same luck. I never had a father to even help my mom send me to school, so it was pressure for her to see Teejay leave school. But the fact that I didn't end up in prison or in violence or anything, and I did music and became a big star in the community is good. So I took the negative and turned it into a positive.
You decided to collaborate with Davido on "Drift," which was a great move. How do you feel about Afrobeats getting some of the mainstream attention that dancehall once had?
I mean, everybody has their time. The reason that dancehall music has taken a backseat, I think, has to do with the people, because music is evolving. [[To be recognized as a supporter of music] you have to have a credit card, a bank account, you have to file taxes, have Zelle, Amazon music, and everything. Nobody in Jamaica subscribes to that, so these are the things that are affecting dancehall music [on the charts]. I think that's why I am here as an artist promoting dancehall music, telling the people things, and talking to the government about [putting programs in place to support Caribbean music].
For us to say that we feel a way that Afrobeats music has reached where it is, I don't think is fair. Africa has been putting in the work over the years. I mean, it's 200 million people in Nigeria alone; like we can't even compete. [But Afrobeats] was inspired by dancehall music. All these artists from Africa can tell you that they grew up listening to dancehall music: Burna Boy said on a show that he used to listen to Movado, Vybz Kartel, and all these great artists.
And based on the success of your 2023 what was your biggest lesson of the year?
"Drift" taught me a lesson about time. No matter what you do, you have to wait for your time. I swear you cannot beat time. That's nature.
There was a time when as you mentioned I thought I was a flop. There was a time when I felt nobody was paying Teejay attention. I was giving other people attention and all my time and nobody stopped and even asked me if I was good. So I would just say that's the most valuable lesson: Believe in yourself, and love yourself before you can love others.
Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Burna Boy, Tyla And Africa's Moment At The 2024 GRAMMYs
African artists shone bright at Music's Biggest Night, highlighting the ever-growing influence of Afrobeats, amapiano and African pop music.
Late into the festivities at the 66th GRAMMY Awards, an African giant took the stage.
Burna Boy — the king of Afrobeats, a massive star of the continent’s pop music industry, and a national hero of his home nation of Nigeria — brought down the house at Crypto.com Arena with a formidable show that bridged the cultures of Africa and America.
With backgrounds inspired by the streets of Lagos, the GRAMMY winner began the set surrounded by drummers and dancers in colorful traditional clothes, jamming to his Afrobeats hit "On Form."
Then, he switched things up, transitioning to two ‘90s hip-hop-influenced cuts from his recent album I Told Them… As the background shifted to Brooklyn brownstones, the Timbaland-inspired bump of "City Boys" gave way to "Sittin’ On Top of the World," during which featured rapper 21 Savage and sampled artist Brandy, appearing live for the first time in years, came out to perform alongside Burna.
That Afrobeats finally reached the GRAMMYs stage made Burna Boy’s performance a milestone for African pop music. And while Burna prefers to label his own work "Afro-Fusion," any Afro pop representation is considered a major coup.
The performance marked a triumphant culmination for African artists at the GRAMMYs, and for the African music industry as a whole. Its explosive global growth in recent years is something that even GRAMMYs host (and two-time GRAMMY nominee) Trevor Noah remarked upon before Burna Boy’s set. Noah, comedian and former host of "The Daily Show," was probably the biggest African presence at the GRAMMYs — himself being a South African who has discussed his own mixed-race heritage in standup and his memoir.
Noah shouted out his country’s amapiano scene, joking, "You know people say Afrobeats is new and personally growing up in South Africa, I would get Afrobeats all the time for my mom every time I came home past my curfew."
But the proceedings had an even more significant backdrop. Earlier in the day, the GRAMMYs handed out the first-ever Best African Music Performance award. The category, one of three new prizes added for the 2024 GRAMMYs, was conceived of and designed as a way to honor the massive, burgeoning African music industry as it continues to expand globally. Ultimately, it was rookie pop singer Tyla that took the heavily contested golden gramophone for her song "Water."
The South African starlet faced stiff competition: Burna Boy ("City Boys") and fellow Afrobeats legend and first-time GRAMMY nominee Davido ("Unavailable" feat. Musa Keys) were nominated in the category, along with rising Nigerian stars ASAKE ("Amapiano" feat. Olamide) and Ayra Starr ("Rush"). Burna Boy and Davido both received multiple nominations this year — four and three, respectively — and Burna had already triumphed at the 63rd GRAMMY Awards, winning Best Global Music Album for Twice as Tall.
But none could compete with the behemoth hit that is "Water." The sultry, Amapiano-influenced vocal pop song entered the Billboard Hot 100 in October of last year, in the process making 22-year-old Tyla the first South African on the chart since Hugh Masekela in 1968, as well as the youngest South African to ever reach the chart. It also topped Billboard’s US Afrobeats Songs chart, reached No. 5 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and finally peaked at number seven on the Hot 100.
As Tyla accepted the award during the GRAMMYs Premiere Ceremony, even she was surprised at her victory, saying "I never thought I’d say I won a GRAMMY at 22 years old….I know my mother’s crying somewhere in here."
As the South African made her way to the stage, legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti’s classic Afrobeat tune "Water No Get Enemy" soundtracked her moment — Tyla’s "Water" and Fela’s "Water" linking the two major musical nations. Coincidentally, the two countries’ soccer teams play each other this week in the Africa Cup of Nations tournament, and fans are already preparing for a rematch between the two rival nations.
As the BBC noted from one commenter after Tyla’s victory, "South Africa won today but Nigeria will win on Wednesday where it matters most." It’s a moment that wouldn’t have been possible only a year ago, but thanks to the GRAMMYs, it is now.
Photo: VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images
2024 GRAMMYs: Burna Boy's Fantastic Afro-Fusion Lights Up The Stage
Burna Boy brought Afro-fusion — and some special guests — to Music's Biggest Night, performing several of his GRAMMY-nominated songs from 'I Told Them….'
At Music's Biggest Night, GRAMMY-winning Afrobeats artist Burna Boy brought a piece of his homeland to Crypto.com Arena.
Decked out in bejeweled threads, the Nigerian superstar danced among throngs of performers and colorful buildings. The joyous performance featured several of his nominated works, including "On Form," "City Boys" and "Sitting On Top Of The World" — the latter featured a special appearance by Brandy and 21 Savage.
His single "City Boys" had a brief moment in the spotlight before Brandy stunned with her divine vocals, showing why her 1998 single "Top of the World" was prime for sampling on Burna Boy’s "Sittin’ on Top of the World." Along with a guest verse from 21 Savage, the trio delivered the updated version in style — as Burna Boy sings: "I pull up in my high fashion, every light flashing."
Burna Boy came into the 2024 GRAMMYs with four nominations, including Best Global Music Album (I Told Them...), Best Global Music Performance ("Alone"), and Best Melodic Rap Performance ("Sittin' on Top of the World"). The powerhouse was also nominated in the inaugural Best African Music Performance Category ("City Boys"), one of three new Categories introduced this year. Burna Boy is a previous Best Global Music Album recipient with his 2020 LP Twice as Tall, making him the first male Nigerian artist to win for an original work.
As one of Afro-fusion’s key contemporaries, Burna Boy is as much a student of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti as he is American hip-hop and R&B. On I Told Them…, he further leaned into the latter’s sounds, bringing in J. Cole, the Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA and RZA, and 21 Savage as collaborators. The LP debuted at the top of the UK Albums chart, marking his first No. 1 album and the first time an international Afrobeats artist has achieved the feat. I Told Them… also topped the UK R&B Albums chart.
Those were only some of the firsts that Burna Boy collected in 2023. In June, he was the first Nigerian artist to headline a US stadium show when he hit New York City’s Citi Field. In July, he was the first African artist to headline a UK stadium show when he sold out London Stadium.
Before he heads back out on tour next month, Burna Boy is slated to appear on Usher’s upcoming album, Coming Home.