Was Burna Boy Snubbed at the Grammys?

burna boy performs onstage at afrochella music festival in ghana
(Photo by Ernest Ankomah/Getty Images)

Burna Boy, performs during the Afrochella Music Festival on December 30, 2022 in Accra, Ghana.

Love, Damini was one of the contenders for Best Global Music Album and his global-charting record “Last Last” was nominated for Best Global Music Performance, however the Nigerian singer lost both awards.

The 65th annual Grammy Awards were held last night at the Arena, Los Angeles. As expected, the event swarmed with outstanding artists and personalities with ravishing looks. Before the event commenced, onlookers and fans tipped their favourite artists to bring home the award, especially Nigerians who were hyped to see the likes of Tems and Burna Boyrepresenting the country on a global stage.

Gone are the days when being nominated for a prestigious award like the Grammy Awards as a Nigerian artist came as a shock. Nigerian music has been on a trajectory in recent years, winning over the global audience. In 2021, Burna Boy set history as the first Nigerian to win a Grammy Award as a lead artist in the Global Music Album category (previously Best World Music Album). His latest studio album Love, Damini was again one of the contenders for the Best Global Music Album category this year and his global-charting record “Last Last” was nominated for Best Global Music Performance. However, the singer lost both awards, failing to add to his list of international plaques.

Following the announcement at the award show, when Tems emerged as a Grammy Award winner in the “Best Melodic Rap Performance” category for Future’s “Wait For U” and Burna Boy wasn’t declared winner of any of the two categories he was nominated in, was a trail of reactions on social media.

“Last Last” lost Best Global Music Performance to “Bayethe,” a song by a South African artists Nomcebo Zikode, Zakes Bantwini and Wouter Kellerman while Japanese act Masa Takumi’s Sakura edged Love, Damini to clinch the Best Global Music Album award. Many Nigerians and afrobeats fans hurriedly took to social media to express their disappointment at Burna Boy’s loss—specifically for “Last Last." According to some, Burna Boy was simply robbed and cheated out of the award. For some others, Burna Boy not winning the award was music to their ears and food in their bellies.

2022 was particularly a great year for Burna Boy. Channelling his pain and heartbreak from a failed romantic relationship with Stefflon Don, the singer went ahead to release “Last Last,” one of the highest-performing records from last year. Shortly after the release of his fifth studio album Love, Damini, which was preceded by “Last Last,” Burna Boy embarked on a worldwide tour that saw him sell out venues such as The Madison Square Garden as well as several arenas and stadiums. His popularity soared across America and Europe as songs from the album, including “Last Last” and “It’s Plenty,” became global anthems. Not even celebrities were left out as the likes of Nicki Minaj, Travis Scott and Damson Idris shared videos where they gleefully vibed to “Last Last”.

Nonetheless, Burna Boy’s loss begs the question of why a song that seemingly has less impact worldwide trumped “Last Last.” “Last Last” was undoubtedly one of the summer song of the year, giving rise to memes and significantly influencing pop culture in such a way that the phrase “I need Igbo and Shayo” became a regular chant even within a demographic that barely understood its meaning and struggled to properly vocalise the lyrics. Judging by what is obvious, it is not far-fetched to assume that “Last Last” appears to be a more credible contender. But that doesn't make “Bayethe” winning the award any less valid.

Just like last night, music fans and lovers were enraged last year when Wizkid’s long-charting record “Essence” and culture-shifting album Made in Lagos were snubbed at the 64th Grammy Awards. Fans couldn’t figure out why Wizkid lost both awards despite the huge strides that the song and album made in foreign territories. “Essence” was the summer song of 2021 and was the people’s favourite for the award, but it lost to Arooj Aftab’s “Mohabbat.” Now, history has repeated itself barely a year after.

Although it is not the first time Burna Boy is experiencing such letdown at the Grammys—African Giant lost the World Music Album award to Angelique Kidjo’s Celia in 2020— it’s notable that a Nigerian artist is losing in the same category for the second year in a row in the face of the towering success and exponential growth of Nigerian music.

See some social media reactions about Burna Boy not winning a Grammy below