Having won awards at Headies, BET, MTV and getting a Grammy nomination in the past year, Damini Ogulu, aka Burna Boy, has become one of the most sought-after African artistes. While he continues to push his career forward with the back-to-back release of songs to the delight of his fans, the singer said the best is yet to come from him. Days back, he granted a question and answer session to journalists and fans alike on Twitter where he shed light on the highs and lows of his career, his attachment to Fela’s songs, his relationship with Wizkid, among other issues. KOLA MUHAMMED brings the excerpts.
There are those who doubt your originality and your claim to be an African giant due to how you have adapted Fela’s songs and his Afrobeats vibe, how do you react to this?
The people that say this nonsense don’t even really know Fela’s songs. Fela went through much more hate from people than I currently do and all he did was speak the truth even more than I do. I think they are just pained that I’m king and I’m flawless with his vibes.
How did you feel missing out on the Grammy award?
I felt sick. Totally sick. But my musical mother, Angelique Kidjo, told me everything I needed to understand about the Grammys. I have learnt and now, I’m ‘Twice as Tall’. That’s the name of my next album by the way.
Interesting that you have an album on the way. When should the release be expected?
The plan is to have it released in July by the grace of the Most High, as long as this coronavirus thing does not end our normal lives.
Eyes are on you now more than ever before, especially after your Grammy nomination. Do you see yourself sustaining the momentum?
I can only do my best and let the Most High handle the rest. Thinking about it may even slow me down.
You recently claimed that you owe nobody any gratitude for rising to the top. Given that you have worked with many artistes in the industry, don’t you think it would be a slap on their faces?
I said nothing but the truth. Anybody who feels insulted should voice out and show his or her grievance. I’m waiting.
You have not had help with writing songs either?
For the record, I have never had any help writing any song ever. It was only once that I had and that was with Peruzzi.
How do you feel when people say it to your face that you are proud?
There are many who hide behind their keyboards to say that I am proud on social media. Interestingly, none of them has ever said it to my face. I wish they would though. I really wish they have the guts to confront me.
Critics also believe that you bloat your achievements. Any reaction?
They should only have problem if every time I ‹make mouth› I don’t back it up with results. I back up my words every time without fail.
How do you feel knowing your hard work has taken you to where you are today?
I feel like working harder.
When was the first time you performed on stage?
That would be in 2010, at the Calabar carnival.
When and how did your music career start? What were the challenges when you started out?
I started making music in 2010. I was motivated by my talent, passion, family, Africa and Fela Kuti. The challenges I faced are way more numerous than I can begin to mention. Just know that challenges don’t stop when you are on top, they get worse.
You are a music superstar with a lot of influence and affluence to show for it. Why are you not motivated to start a family and have children?
I just want to be as good a parent to my children as my parents were and still are to my sisters and me. Until I’m confident that I can be stable and settle with the mother of my kids, I can’t have kids.
Even with the fame and enviable music career that you have, there are those who would still want to drag you down. How do you push through without letting the hate get to you?
I push through by staying militant. The desire of some people to see me fail spurred me to be the rebel militant that I am today. I am happy to be who I am.
Have you ever used your fame to get something for free?
My belief is that free things always come back to bite you in the ass. So, I don’t like free stuff and would not use my fame to get them.
What do you appreciate the most in your life?
My family, my girlfriend and my gang. They are irreplaceable.
How was it growing up in Port Harcourt and chasing your dreams?
It was beautiful and hell at the same time but it showed me all the lessons I needed to learn to face the world.
Was there any time you ever doubted yourself?
Yes, a few times actually. But my mindset has always been that I’d rather die than ever bend or fold.
Yes, I do. I have a connection with the Yoruba tribe on my maternal side.
If you’re to go on a hit battle with any fellow Nigerian artiste, who would that be?
I don’t really know what a hit battle is but I’m willing to go toe to toe with any worthy challenger, lyrically, musically and even physically. However they want it, I’m ready.
You hinted to your fans to expect a remix of your latest single, ‘Odogwu’. Which artistes should they be expecting on it?
For the remix, I’m planning to enlist Phyno, Zoro, illBliss and Mr Raw. More surprises should be expected.
Why did you choose your mom as your manager?
The decision was not a hard one. She is my manager because she is the only person qualified to talk to me and she is the only living human being that I truly trust one hundred per cent.
You appear to have an amazing fashion sense. Is your stylist another member of the family?
Yes, my sister, Ronami, is my stylist. She is the best stylist in the world.
What has been your most challenging collaboration so far?
My most challenging collaboration was with Angelique Kidjo because I had been desiring it since 2011 until I got to work with her in 2019.
Is there any way you are helping people during this biting coronavirus pandemic period?
I do my best for as many as I can and I urge everyone who can to do the same. But people should know that because I do it does not mean it’s my job. That is the government’s job, not mine. The little I do should be appreciated but grievances should be taken to the government.
Who is your greatest competition?
Comparisons between you and Wizkid brought a lot of spat on social media. Did it cause any tension between you and him?
Don’t get this mistaken. Wizkid is my brother forever and I love him though recently, I have learnt not to mess with his fans. I’m too seasoned to let what happened on Twitter affect our relationship. Nobody can pitch me against any of my brothers for entertainment.
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