Afrobeats stands twice as tall with Burna Boy and Wizkid’s Grammy wins

Burna Boy, Nigeria’s biggest Afrobeats singer has won Best Global Music Album award for “Twice As Tall” at the Premiere Ceremony of the 63rd Grammy Awards. The award category was changed in 2020 from its previous name, Best World Music Album. According to the organisers, the new name is meant to be ‘more relevant, modern, and inclusive’.

The singer beat fellow nominees Antibalas, Bebel Gilberto, Anoushka Shankar and Tinariwen to the prize. He gave his acceptance speech in English and Yoruba via a video chat. Watch below:

“This is a big win for my generational Africans all over the world and this should be a lesson to all Africans out there. No matter where you are, no matter what you like to do; you can achieve it no matter where you are from,” Burna Boy said in his speech. He went on to excitedly hail his family and fans in Yoruba.

After this, he gave what many has described as a memorable performance to close out the Premiere Ceremony. Burna performed “Level Up” and “Onyeka” from his award-winning project and also gave listeners the pleasurable experience of his 2018 single, “Ye”. You can watch his Grammy Awards performance here:

Before he was announced as a Grammy award winner, the Afrobeats sensation had enjoyed a massive show of support from Nigerians and other fans from around the world that dwarfed what we saw in 2020 when he was first nominated in the same category.

After his big win, Burna Boy received congratulations from the likes of Ben Murray-Bruce, Femi Anikulapo-Kuti, several of his colleagues and even Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted his song “Ye”:

Davido, one of Burna Boy’s fiercest colleagues in the Nigerian music scene, also turned in a congratulatory message for him as well. Let us take a look at the winning project.

Twice As Tall

As the fifth studio album of the artist who has been in the music industry since the late 2000s, it contained all the years of experience he has garnered as well as the contribution of global giants from its production to promotion.

Unlike his earlier works, the album was released under international recording companies such as Atlantic and Warner Music. This was also the case of its equally successful predecessor “African Giant”.

Additionally, Sean John Combs popularly known as Diddy was the project’s executive producer along with the artist’s mother, Bose Ogulu. Alli Odunayo who is known by the stage name Telz is regarded as the primary producer.

Meanwhile, Timbaland, Matt Testa, DJDS, Matthew Baus, Mike Dean, Mario Winans, and Andre Harris are some of the foreign-based producers that worked on the project. Not to forget that LeriQ, JAE5, Rexxie, Saulti Soul, Skread, and P2J also contributed to the album’s success as well.

Burna Boy, Nigeria's biggest Afrobeats singer has won Best Global Music Album award for "Twice As Tall" at the Premiere Ceremony of the 63rd GRAMMY Awards.
Twice As Tall cover art

“Twice As Tall” contains a mixture of Afrobeats, Afrobeat, dancehall, pop and hip hop with guest appearances from Youssou N’Dour, Naughty by Nature, Sauti Sol, Chris Martin and Stormzy. The 15-track album has gotten a lot of positive reviews since its release and hit number one spot on the US World Albums chart as well as finishing 54th on US Billboard 200.

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One of the most popular and resounding praises that Burna Boy got for its huge project is that he found a way to blend his sound across genres and even geographical boundaries while still maintaining originality and not watering down his unique tongue.

This is big praise for him because the album could have some tracks bend toward the several featured artists’ pull as they also brought their own sounds from Mbalax, to hip hop and pop-rock.

Grammy 2021

Despite The Weeknd’s rant accusing the organizers of corruption after he was left out of the nomination, the 2021 Grammy awards still enjoyed much publicity. No doubt, Burna Boy remains the major talking point in Nigeria but there were also other interesting highlights from the night.

American classical record producer and pianist David Frost also won three awards and so did Megan Thee Stallion. The latter was crowned the Best New Artist beating other nominees like Chika, D Smoke, Doja Cat, Noah Cyrus and others.

Taylor Swift managed to get six nominations at the 2021 Grammy Awards but only won the Album of the Year for her project “Folklore”. Kanye West’s “Jesus Is King” project won the Best Contemporary Christian Music Album award.

Meanwhile, Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, better known professionally as H.E.R., won two awards from her three nominations — one for Best R&B Song and the other for Song of the Year.

American rapper Nas also won his first-ever Grammy awards after 13 nominations in the past. His 13th studio album King’s Disease was named the Best Rap Album at the 2021 ceremony.

Beyonce, Burna Boy win Grammy

Iconic American singer Beyoncé ended the night as the most awarded person with four gramophones. She won the Best R&B Performance for her single “Black Parade” as well as Best Music Video for “Brown Skin Girl”, an award she shares with Wizkid, Saint Jhn and Blue Ivy Carter.

The award means that Burna Boy was not the only Nigerian act that won a Grammy Award at the 63rd edition of the music award ceremony. This has been a source of contention among fans as to who is really a Grammy winner and who is a ‘partial’ winner. Here is a brief explanation.

Did Tiwa Savage, Made Kuti and Femi Kuti win Grammy awards?

Did Tiwa Savage, Made Kuti and Femi Kuti win Grammy awards?
(From top left to bottom right) Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, Made Kuti, and Femi Kuti

No, Tiwa Savage, Made Kuti and Femi Kuti did not win an award at the 63rd Grammy Awards ceremony.

The controversy about who is really a Grammy awards winner is not only about Wizkid’s win but includes other Nigerian artists like Tiwa Savage, Made Kuti and Femi Kuti.

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The three of them had featured on “Everyday Life” project by Coldplay which was nominated in the Best Record Packing and Album of the Year categories. Made Kuti and Femi Kuti were on the track “Arabesque” while Tiwa Savage was on “Eko”.

The album failed to win in the two categories losing to “Vols. 11 & 12” and “Folklore” respectively. However, the question remained if they would have been regarded as winners if the rock group had won the Album of the Year award.

According to the organisers, for projects containing at least 51% playing time of new vocal or instrumental recordings. Awards go to Artist(s) and to Featured Artist(s), Songwriter(s) of new material, Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s), Mixer(s) and Mastering Engineer(s) credited with at least 33% playing time of the album, if other than Artist.

(Featured) artists, songwriters, producers, recording engineers/mixers and mastering engineers who are credited with less than 33% of playing time do not receive a statuette, but a Winners Certificate.

Since the Nigerian artists did not contribute to creating 33% of Coldplay’s “Everyday Life”, they would not have gotten the gramophones.

Wizkid’s case is different because “Brown Skin Girl” won in the Best Music Video category and the recipients of this award usually include the performers, directors, and producers. Since Wizkid was a performer on the video, he is rightly a Grammy Award winner.

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About The Author


Obinna is a fiction writer from Lagos, Nigeria, and grew up loving comic book characters and superheroes. He watches lots of action films and writes entertainment and technology articles. He is also interested in science and how things work.

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