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Burna Boy Makes History With Dazzling Grammy Performance

Burna Boy performed at the Grammy Awards for the first time, with his representatives noting he is the first Afro-fusion artist to do so in a press release distributed prior to Grammy night. Though Burna is largely associated with the more widely known genre Afrobeats — which itself is often a fusion of genres such as highlife, hip-hop, R&B, and more — he has long attempted to differentiate himself by referring to his own music as Afro-fusion. Other artists, like Ghanaian singer Amaarae, have categorized their music as Afro-fusion as well.

Trevor Noah, the South African host of the night, joked before fellow African Burna Boy took the stage. “You know people say Afrobeats is new and personally growing up in South Africa, I would get Afrobeats all the time for my mom every time I came home past my curfew,” he chided before welcoming the “Grammy winning sensation originally from Nigeria.”

In his performance, Burna Boy brought out energetic dancers and a backing band decked all out in green, a seeming nod to the Nigerian flag. Sporting a red rhinestone-adorned quilted jacket with matching gray pants and a snapback, Burna was all smiles and swagger as he brought his culture to the Grammys stage.

Burna moved to the more modern song “City Boys” before dazzling the audience with “Sittin’ On Top of the World” and bringing out Brandi, whose 1998 hit “Top of the World” with Ma$e is sampled in the song. The singer, who hasn’t grace the stage since the Nineties, delivered smooth vocals in a black trench coat and large clear glasses, complete with stunning scarlet boots to mark that she and Burna are indeed on top of the world.

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21 Savage, who is featured in the remix of “Sittin’ On Top of the World” came out in an all red fit to rap his verse. The onstage collaboration marks 21 Savage’s Grammy performance debut.

Burna Boy is 2024 Grammys’ most nominated African artist with a total of four nods: Best Melodic Rap Performance for his single “Sittin’ on Top of the World” featuring 21 Savage, Best Global Music Album for his latest album I Told Them…, Best Global Music Performance for “Alone” from the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack, and the inaugural Best African Music Performance for “City Boys” — another popular single from  I Told Them… The Nigerian singer earned his first Grammy in 2021, winning the Best Global Music Album award for his album, Twice As Tall. That year, he had a pre-recorded performance broadcast as a part of the Grammy pre-show. It was partially filmed in front of Nigeria’s National Theatre in Lagos.

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