Burna Boy is soaring over the crowd at Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome, yelling the Yoruba term that loosely means “move your legs.” His six-foot-one frame explodes into the air, seemingly powered by enough energy to fuel the Space Drift Tour race car he zoomed onto the stage in earlier. Wearing a blue custom Botter jumpsuit, he looks like some kind of Afro-futurist astronaut, ready to fly even higher.
“He gives his all. And when he comes off [stage], you’ll see him in the dressing room, falling flat out on the floor and shaking,” says his younger sister Ronami Ogulu, who’s also his stylist and creative director. “Then he comes up and we patch him all together and we go again the next day.”
Burna Boy will speak at the inaugural Billboard MusicCon on May 13 at AREA15 in Las Vegas. Get your tickets to the event here.
Three days later, Burna is in South London and decidedly more earthbound, slouched in an antique red leather chair. He takes long, drawn-out puffs from his Backwood, taking care that his denim Off-White ensemble doesn’t turn into a designer ashtray. He speaks in aphorisms, like “It is better to stick with the devils you know” (why he keeps family, including his sister and “momager” Bose Ogulu, on his team) and “I hope for the best and am prepared for the worst” (when he thinks about the future of the African continent). When he laughs, tiny diamond tooth gems glint at the edges of his kilowatt smile. When he’s finished answering a question, he gestures toward me with his hand and sternly commands, “Proceed.”
Read Burna Boy’s full Billboard cover story here.