Culture and Lifestyle

Burna Boy Now Twice as Tall with New Grammy Award

Winning the Grammys is the dream of every Nigerian musician. It is the pinnacle for many Nigerian acts. It has been the dream of many singers for years. Many music acts in their time have made conscious efforts towards the course.

“Twice as Tall” would however go down in history as that album that changed the afrobeat narrative. It has become the first body of works from Nigeria to achieve the prized feat of bringing home the Grammys. Nobody or music work from Nigeria has ever done it. This is a first after many years of waiting.

As Burna Boy was announced the winner of the award for the “Best Global Music Album” category, it sent tantalising tingles of joy down the spine of many Nigerians and proponents of afrobeats who were looking forward to this day. This “simple” win has elicited a truce among feuding sides, with the acknowledgement that this is indeed a win for afrobeat, Nigeria and Africa.

Nigeria’s major parties, the ruling APC and the PDP, have congratulated the self-acclaimed African Giant on his win at the Grammys. Congratulatory messages have continued to pour in and given the feat is a first of its kind, it is likely to go on for weeks and even months.

It is noteworthy that this victory has placed “Twice As Tall” as an album in a position of power. For many years to come, it will be recognised as that album that broke the chain, surpassing that of many Nigerian musicians before it. This is in view of decades that have seen many productions from various acts in the Nigerian music industry. The Grammy award has earmarked “Twice As Tall”, giving it the nomenclature of album of all times by virtue of its win in the context of the Nigerian situation. But can it wear the crown fittingly? In other words, can Burna Boy’s second grammy-nominated album hold this position without any drag? When compared to other evergreen albums such as 2face’s “Grass to Grace”, Wizkid’s “Superstar”, and Wande Coal’s “Mushin 2 Mo Hits”, can this Grammy clincher stand its ground?

There is no doubt that Burna Boy is deserving of the Grammys as he has put in a lot of work coupled with consistent efforts over the years. “Twice As Tall” however wouldn’t pass the test as a worthy match compared to his previous album, as well as when paired with many outstanding albums that have emerged from the Nigerian music space. His “African Giant” album would have been a perfect crusader. There were thus several factors that were put in place that made the album emerge champ. These include production, distribution, collaboration, and other providential factors such as the change from “Best World Album” to “Best Global Album”, amongst others.

Having lost out on the award category at the 62nd Grammies to four-time Grammy winner, Angelique Kidjo, Burna Boy, and his managerial team went back to the drawing board, devising, consulting, and scheming on how the feat can be achieved in the subsequent year. And for the first time, the managerial team of a Nigerian artiste got it right. They saw the need to follow the previous failure with another shot. This wasn’t any shot for appeal. It was a shot to make a statement which was why it involved a lot of well-plotted schemes and strategies. This saw the birth of the album, “Twice as Tall”.

If “Twice as Tall” was to make any meaningful statement on the award organisers, therefore, it had to start with the production. This explains why the Grammy clincher had producers like P Diddy as executive producer, who himself was the first rapper to win multiple Grammys in a night. This was the same person that was nominated for seven Grammys on the night of February 25th, 1988, and won two at the 40th Grammy Awards in a much-contested category. Other producers on the album include Timbaland (who received his last Grammy in 2015 following his successful work on Beyonce’s Self Titled album), P2J (a multiple-award winner who produced Wizkid’s Made in Lagos), Matt Tesla, DJDS, Matthew Baus, Mike Dean, LeriQ Rexxie, Mario Winnas, etc.

The collaborations were equally very strong factors. The album had guest appearances from international acts such as Youssou N’Dour, who Rolling Magazine describes as “perhaps the most famous singer alive” in Senegal and a large part of Africa; Chris Martin, who featured on the monster hit, “Monsters You Made” and has two Grammy Awards and multiple nominations to his credit; Stormzy, the successful British rapper, and Sauti Sol.

Both the production and collaboration, involving outstanding personalities from Africa, America, Europe, and other parts of the world, contributed to the global outlook it gave “Twice as Tall”. This is in view of other albums nominated in the same category that wasn’t altogether globally inclusive.

Besides, the distribution was a major factor. After losing out on the awards in 2019, perhaps Burna Boy and his team saw the need for having a strong and good distribution network. As a result of a strong distribution network, “Twice as Tall” was able to pull nearly a total of 200 million streams across streaming platforms such as YouTube, Spotify, and Audiomack. This is asides the fact that it debuted as number one on billboard’s world album chart, which made it the first by a Nigerian to achieve the feat.

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The change from Best World Album to Best Global Album gave the category a more international outlook. Prior to the change, critics cited the problems of the category and how it wasn’t inclusive, especially for Africans. The new name was decided after extensive conversations with artists, ethnomusicologists, and linguists from around the world, who decided it was time to rename it with “a more relevant, modern, and inclusive term.”

As earlier mentioned, Burna Boy no doubt is deserving of a Grammy win. It would have been incontestable for an album like “African Giant”, which gained complete acceptance amongst Nigerian music lovers. But for “Twice as Tall”, it has come to make its own mark.

Clearly, the victorious Grammy declaration has elevated “Twice as Tall” to the level of the album of all times in Nigeria by virtue of its win as the first Nigerian album to achieve the feat. But whether it can wear the crown fittingly when placed against other great albums that have emerged from the Nigerian music space will remain a debate for years.

Nelson Okoh

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