Behind the Fiery Stage Name: Burna Boy

Along with acts like Wizkid, Tems, and Davido, Burna Boy is without a doubt one of the most renowned Afrobeats artists in the world today. This is evident in his recent album’s successes, as his last three LPs have all been nominated for a Best Global Music Album Grammy, with Twice as Tall taking home the award in 2021.

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Behind his Name

First launching his career a decade ago with his debut album L.I.F.E, the Nigerian singer has been a staple in the dancehall and Afrobeats mainstream ever since. As his popularity grew, fans always wondered how Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu arrived at the name Burna Boy.

While visiting The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in Sept. 2022, Burna Boy finally broke it all down. When asked how he came up with his artist name (at the 1:38 mark), he explained that his love for superheroes as a kid inspired it.

“This is weird but I used to draw comic books and stuff,” he said. “I know I don’t look like it, but yeah I used to draw comic books and copy different [heroes] like Spiderman and Superman. I would just draw, and then at a point, I wanted my own. I wanted to be my own superhero where I could draw me as a superhero, you know with a cape and all that. So I was trying to come up with a name and all I could think of was Burna Boy.”

While the superhero names he mentioned here mostly end with “man,” figures like Japanese manga character Astro Boy and DC’s Beast Boy both include the same youthful suffix Burna Boy employs.

Burna Boy Lately

In the aforementioned Fallon interview, Burna Boy was just months removed from his July 2022 album, Love, Damini. The project included the hit single “Last Last,” which became one of his most beloved tracks ever. “Last Last” not only reached No. 44 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 but went Platinum in five different countries. Both the album and its lead single were nominated at the February 2023 Grammys but did not end up winning either award.

Regardless, Burna Boy’s impact on his home country of Nigeria, the continent of Africa, and the entire globe cannot be quantified by a trophy case. His rhythmic approach and rich singing voice have touched the ears and hearts of Afrobeats lovers worldwide, and songs like his lone 2023 single, thus far, “Rollercoaster” with J Balvin prove that unequivocally.

Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Roc Nation

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