Burna Boy Talks 'African Giant,' Damian Marley & Angelique Kidjo Collab, Responsibility As A Global Artist

Burna Boy

Photo: Recording Academy


Burna Boy Talks 'African Giant,' Damian Marley & Angelique Kidjo Collab, Responsibility As A Global Artist

The Recording Academy sat down with the Nigerian superstar Afro-fusion artist to learn more about his new album, his biggest goal as a global artist and more

GRAMMYs/Aug 9, 2019 - 02:36 am

Nigerian Afro-fusion singer/songwriter Burna Boy is steadily ascending as a globally-loved superstar, with his smooth, rich vocals and infectious beats that blend traditional Afrobeat (his grandfather was Fela Kuti's—the forefather of Afrobeat—first manager), dancehall, hip-hop, trap and more. He was among a handful of big-name international artists to play Coachella 2019, made his "Jimmy Kimmel Live" debut last month and, on July 25, released his highly anticipated album, African Giant.

Across its 19 tracks, African Giant brings plenty of powerful, positive vibes and some epic collabs, including U.K. R&B singer and 2019 Best New Artist Nominee Jorja Smith, GRAMMY-nominated R&B crooner Jeremih, Nigerian rapper Zlatan, Jamaican dancehall artist Serani, Ghanaian singer/songwriter/rapper M.anifest, GRAMMY-winning trap hero Future and West Coast rap champ YG. On "Different," Burna brings on Jamaican reggae legend Damian Marley and Beninese-American singer/songwriter Angélique Kidjo, both multi-GRAMMY winners, for a moving track he—and his fans—is understandably very proud of.

Burna recently stopped by the Recording Academy headquarters just before the album dropped for an in-depth conversation and our latest episode of Up Close & Personal, which you can watch above and check out on our YouTube page for a longer version of the video, as well as the other recent episodes. Read on to learn more about the masterpiece album, working with his hero Kidjo, his goal as global artist and more.

So your album, African Giant drops soon and a lot of people are excited about it. What are you most excited about for sharing the album?

I'm excited about a lot of things. I'm excited that it's finally coming out. I'm excited that it's turned out the way I wanted it to. I'm excited that the purpose of the album is already basically achieved before it drops, you know? So it's very exciting to me. And then obviously for my people as well, for everyone coming from where I'm coming from. It's a big motivation and a statement or whatever you want to call it. It's just, yeah, man. This is basically my way of showing you who I am and in the process helping you to listen and know who you are.

I like that. You worked with a bunch of amazing collaborators from around the globe on this project. How did you choose who to work with?

It just all basically happened very organically. I just knew the vision I had and you know? It just all fell into place.

Can you speak a little bit more to that vision and how it guided all the different elements of the album?

My vision is just to, I don't know how to explain this in a way that makes sense to you, but to shine a light on a place and on people and a situation and everything that there hasn't been a light on for a long time.

The most recent music video you released from one of the singles on the album is for "Anybody." It just feels really joyful and is such a beautiful video. Can you talk a little bit specifically about that video and track?

Video was shot by [Nigerian director] Clarence Peters. "Anybody" is almost wake up music, you know? That's really what it is.

When you shared the track list, everyone was already buzzing about "Different," featuring Damian Marley and Angélique Kidjo. Could you talk about that song and working with them?

That's a song that's very sentimental to me because Angélique Kidjo is someone that I've looked up to since forever. Now this is almost like a vision come true, a longtime vision. This is just one song that I really hold dear to my heart. And then there's Damian Marley who is, you know what? There's nothing that I need to say about that, that you don't already know. You know? That's a song that's very dear to me.

Who are your biggest musical influences? What did you grow up listening to and who kind of like stays in your heart as you make music now?

Man, everyone. Every African legend I was introduced to as a youngin and all the—just everything, my experiences, it's just a lot, [it] all kind of makes this.

Who would you say are like, maybe your top three favorite artists or heroes?

Fela [Kuti]. Obviously, Fela, Angélique Kidjo. I don't know, third one. There's a lot, man.

Earlier this year you performed at Coachella and now you'll be embarking on your headline tour soon. What is your favorite part about performing live and bringing your music to people in those spaces?

Well that's my playground. That's my happy place. That's basically the reason I do this. Because if it wasn't for that then it wouldn't be as interesting to me.

What does it mean to you to be part of the growing, global Afro-fusion sound?

I mean, it feels great. It's an honor. I know it's a responsibility. There's just some [music] that's going to be respected and has to be carried along, you know, forever if possible.

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On a related note, what do you feel like is your biggest duty and goal now, as a global artist?

Now [the goal] is to keep on making music and making the fans happy, and everyone around me happy, until I leave the earth. And then hopefully when I leave, I leave such a great impact that something changes.

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam

Photo: Kevin Mazur/


Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it

GRAMMYs/Feb 13, 2019 - 04:05 am

Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.

McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award

The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.

"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."

With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.

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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Glenn Danzig

Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images


Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Dark punk legends to play first show with Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only since last year's Riot Fest reunion

GRAMMYs/Aug 22, 2017 - 05:28 am

There's big news today for punk-rock fans aware that the Misfits made much more than just T-shirts.

The massively influential punk band announced a special show touted as the "only 2017 performance in this world… or any world" and billed as "The Original Misfits" in Los Angeles at the Forum on Dec. 30.

This will be the first Misfits show featuring original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only with long-time guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein since the band reunited for a pair of Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver in 2016. Last year's Riot Fest gigs, which featured drummer Dave Lombardo, marked the first time in 33 years the original Misfits members played together.

"OK Los Angeles, you've waited almost 35 years for this, here's your chance to see the "Original Misfits" in this Exclusive L.A. only performance." said Glenn Danzig. "No Tour, No BS, just one night of dark metal-punk hardcore brutality that will go down in the history books. See you there."

Tickets for this "one night only" show go on sale Friday, August 25.

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Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

Lady Gaga

Photo: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images


Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

GRAMMY winner pledges support for those impacted by hurricanes this year through Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program

GRAMMYs/Oct 12, 2017 - 11:03 pm

On Oct. 10 Lady Gaga announced she is devoting her $1 million donation in support of those impacted by the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and the earthquakes in Mexico, to a specific cause — the mental and emotional well being of children and youth.

Gaga announced on her Born This Way Foundation website she will support Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program, which uses a variety of tools to help young people deal with trauma in the wake of natural disasters.

"Through a curriculum that includes cooperative play, discussion, art, meditation, and mindfulness practices, young people learn to recognize and understand their emotions and develop healthy coping skills," Gaga wrote. "Tens of thousands of youth have benefited from the program since it’s development in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Save the Children is working to bring it to hundreds of thousands more in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico."

The announcement came on World Mental Health Day, and the Fame Monster has invited all of us to step up and consider making a contribution to the Journey of Hope program to support to mental and emotional needs of children.

"Mental health is just as vital to our wellbeing as physical health. That’s true for each of us, everyday, but it’s especially important for those coping with disaster and recovering from trauma," wrote Lady Gaga. "We must do everything within our power to support the full, vibrant recovery of these communities, from meeting their immediate needs to helping them to rebuild sustainably."

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards


Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2019 - 06:28 pm

The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.

Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville                                                                        

This star-studded compilation album from 11-time GRAMMY nominee J. Cole and his Dreamville Records imprint features appearances from some of the leading and fastest-rising artists in hip-hop today, including label artists EARTHGANG, J.I.D, and Ari Lennox, plus rappers T.I, DaBaby, and Young Nudy, among many others. Recorded in Atlanta across a 10-day recording session, Revenge of the Dreamers III is an ambitious project that saw more than 300 artists and producers contribute to the album, resulting in 142 recorded tracks. Of those recordings, 18 songs made the final album, which ultimately featured contributions from 34 artists and 27 producers.

Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.

Championships – Meek Mill

In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

i am > i was – 21 Savage

Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.

IGOR – Tyler, The Creator

The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.

The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae

Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.