“Burna Boy can make good music but Burna Boy can’t be a responsible artiste. Burna Boy cannot keep everything within.” These words are a direct quote from Osagie Alonge, a digital media strategist, in 2015 after being asked ‘what do you think about Burna Boy?’ He also outlined why all of the controversy shrouding Damini Ogulu, the aforementioned artiste, would end his career. He added that he couldn’t keep it all together and was well on the path of destruction.
This is the year 2020, five years after that statement was made. I do not know your opinion on Oluwaburna as he is fondly called by his fans but we can all agree on one thing; Osagie was wrong.
Last year, Burna did not only make fantastic sales with the release of his album; African Giant. He also cinched a Grammy awards nomination and Brit awards nomination. Let’s not forget he won the BET award for Best International Act that same year. He’s currently sitting on a stack of accolades no other African artiste can boast of. In fact, even international men’s magazine GQ, couldn’t resist and featured him recently.
In a nutshell, Burna Boy has shown us that in five years you can go from being a write off to a global sensation. This definitely did not happen overnight and is not a story to be taken lightly.
Here are the lessons to take home from Burna Boy and his audacity:
1. Be like Burna Boy, Be Audacious
He has shown us the art of defending your craft with your chest. Burna, has gone from calling out The Headies to calling out a whole oyinbo franchise, Coachella, for not giving him the recognition he felt he deserved. Indeed, these were actions that could have totally backfired. But he made sure to stay one step ahead by backing up his words with a lot of work. No okoto meow yarns my g.
What are the goals you have? Do they scare you? Well fear is a good weapon, harness it and speak your goals out loud. In so doing, you are now holding yourself up to a standard you have to work towards. Ergo, you are speaking your goals into being.
2. Have a plan
It is one thing to speak goals out loud and hope they’ll come to pass. It’s another thing to have a plan, a strategy. To map out how you’ll conquer that mountain. Yes, Burna Boy has called out different music bodies. But he didn’t just huff and puff like the wolf in the story of the three little pigs. No, he made plans along the way that aligned with his vision and he kept to it.
Alaye, do you a plan?
3. Know Yourself
FYI, this is word from one of the greatest philosophers ever, Aristocrates. Knowing yourself is only about one of the most pivotal steps to living a fulfilled life. If you don’t know yourself, how else will you know what works for you?
Sadly, we don’t come from heaven with a self-care manual, so the journey of knowing oneself is a lifelong one. Luckily, it is also for a good part based on instinct.
For Burna Boy, he’d always known he was born to be a superstar and randonly performed at restaurants even as a child.
On the GQ feature, Burna Boy said “Unlike a lot of other people, I’ve had to go through never-ending steps to get here, whereas other people have taken the elevator up,” He then adds “I’ve always been too heavy for that kind of elevator, so I had to take the stairs. Now I know every floor and everything on every floor.”
What is your inner man telling you? Listen o, make you no go follow another man’s path.
4. Be True to Yourself & Believe in Yourself
On Burna Boy’s nonconformist sound, he told GQ; “I don’t really have a high regard for numbers, because numbers have no feelings, they have no soul, whereas I do. My ‘numbers’ is the people who have actually felt the feeling that the music is supposed to carry.
Schooling us further on staying true to self and self belief, he adds; “Anything you chase will run. And right now, I don’t have the strength to be chasing stuff that’s running away.”
So yes, you know yourself; what works for you and what doesn’t. In fact, you like what you like and hate what you hate. Cool, but are you just keeping this knowledge in your back pocket?
5. Keep the family close like Burna Boy:
Some years ago, Burna had to take a break from music for several reasons. Swirling controversies being one. It was when he re-emerged in 2017 he began to morph into the African Giant he is now. And it is with his family members on his team he has reached these new heights. His mother, Bose Ogulu, is his manager. His iconic style is crafted by his sister and stylist, Ronami Ogulu. He also references his grandfather a lot for telling him stories about his hero, the legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
As humans, the family is our first society. Burna’s family has obviously served to ground him and make him more cool headed. Some of us might actually never be blessed with such a supportive family but family isn’t only through blood ties. Do you have a ride or die family?
6. Controversy is a Tool
“Controversy will kill you.” These were the last of Osagie’s words on his thoughts on Burna who has made too many controversial statements to count.
Indeed, controversy can be like quick sand. But you know what works like a lifeguard? Moving faster than the clouds of controversy around you by working hard. Osagie did say also say in that talent is never enough. So, if talent is a super power, controversy is the double- edged sword and hard work, the shield.
Basically, if you must wield the sword of controversy, know when to parry and jab and when to sheath your blade make you no go do pass yourself.