In a groundbreaking moment at the 2024 Grammy Awards, Burna Boy, the 32-year-old Nigerian Afrobeats sensation, etched his name in Recording Academy history as the first-ever Afrobeats performer to grace the live Grammy stage. The momentous occasion featured a medley performance, bringing together the talents of Burna Boy, iconic R&B singer Brandy, and rapper 21 Savage.
The trio kicked off their collaborative act with a rendition of Burna Boy’s 2023 hit, “Sittin’ on Top of the World,” which notably sampled Brandy’s 1998 smash, “Top of the World,” featuring Mase. Dressed in traditional Nigerian attire, Burna Boy passionately performed his song “On Form” before dazzling the audience with a vibrant dance performance of his chart-topping track “City Boys.”
Following Burna Boy’s dynamic solo, Brandy, clad in all black and striking red knee-high boots, emerged from atop a staircase, belting out her classic “Top of the World.” Joined by 21 Savage in an all-red leather ensemble, the trio created a historic fusion on stage, captivating the Grammy audience with a seamless blend of Afrobeats, R&B, and rap.
The performance had been anticipated since Grammys executive producer Raj Kapoor’s announcement, as reported by Rolling Stone Music Now earlier in the week. The significance extended beyond Burna Boy’s historic moment, as 21 Savage delivered his first-ever Grammy stage rap performance, and it marked Brandy’s return to the Grammy stage after several years.
Interestingly, Brandy’s last major Grammy performance was in 1997, showcasing her enduring presence in the music industry. The night, however, did not end with a win for Burna Boy and 21 Savage, as Lil Durk and J. Cole’s “All My Life” secured the Best Melodic Rap Performance award.
Despite the loss, the performance was a monumental achievement for Burna Boy, who entered the stage as a Grammy winner for his collaboration with Monica on “The Boy Is Mine,” earning the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals in 1999.
Burna Boy’s team, in a press statement before the Grammy night, emphasized his distinction as the first Afro-fusion performer at the Grammy Awards, underlining his commitment to a unique musical identity. The Grammy stage featured a vibrant showcase of Burna Boy’s Afro-fusion style, celebrating his Nigerian heritage with upbeat dancers and a backing band adorned in green.
Transitioning from the traditional to the contemporary, Burna Boy seamlessly integrated “City Boys” into the performance, leading to Brandy’s sultry rendition of “Sittin’ On Top of the World.” The presence of 21 Savage in the remix marked his inaugural Grammy appearance.
With four nominations in various categories, Burna Boy stood out as the most nominated African artist for the 2024 Grammy Awards. Despite not securing additional wins on this occasion, his influence on the global music stage remains undeniable. Having claimed his first Grammy in 2021 for “Twice As Tall,” Burna Boy’s continued impact is a testament to the diversity and richness of the Afrobeats genre.