A wise man once said debut album is very important in an artist’s career. Almost as important as the sophomore, and what comes after. (You guessed right, I’m the wise man.)
In this case, however, Burna Boy isn’t even a newcomer. But, a couple of months back, he was just the Burna Boy everyone just likes. Today, he’s got more credibility, home and abroad. Beyonce wouldn’t make an album featuring top African artists and not put Burna on it and BET wouldn’t give anyone else their Awards. Not a bad track record for an artist who was on the Next Rated list, just five seasons ago. Right?
“Outside” cemented his name in the Afrobeat hall of fame, and he officially crossed over with the crisp body of work that housed the super hit, “Ye”, which was 2018’s Song Of The Year. He was also awarded “Artist Of The Year”, and in the months that followed the groundbreaking album, he went on to prove his hit-making prowess to everyone. “Gbona”, “On The Low”, “Killing Dem”, “Dangote” and more.
Burna has thrilled us all. But a new album? Well, that’s quite a bold move. Especially now that the days are hard. No one is expecting more than one hit now and then. But Burna upped the game, and this is coming without so much hype you would have expected.
The “Dangote” singer never disappoints, I’ll give him that one. So, 19 tracks of new material from him, is definitely supposed to be worth the while. Not everything on the project is entirely new, anyway.
Talk of super-hits like “On The Low” and “Gbona”, which were some of last year’s biggest hits. The Zanku-themed “Killing Dem” which featured street singer Zlatan Ibile, also made the shot. There was “Dangote”, which was Burna Boy’s intro this year and then, “AnyBody” which isn’t such an old one anyway.
He started off with “African Giant” (yeah, the title track), a rather conscious vibe, which sounds like something that was done in one take. His lyrics weren’t that deep, but he did call himself “Omo Ologo” (that’s Yoruba for “glorious child”). And what’s that sample at the end, by the way?
The pre-released “AnyBody” followed, with an even more contagious vibe and some angelic trumpet sounds, to match. “Wetin Man Go Do” wasn’t rasta or anything but he got a dance hall tune, a catchy one. No back-up vocals, just pure fire ‘burn a boy’ stuff. And then the ad-libs.
“Dangote” is a bit faster, you’ll think he got the new Tesla and replaced his old car. Maybe not? Same lyric, but goes without saying, it seemed a bit different on album.
Burna Boy’s part might have been cut off Drake’s “More Life” Playlist back then, but this Jorja Smith collaboration will do just fine. Burna with the vibe, Jorja with the finesse. You could say she murdered him on “Gum Body”. No one would be angry, it’s Jorja Smith.
“Omo” is about girl-power, should be some Movie Soundtrack or something. Oh, the girl he was describing sounds like Beyonce. Afro-beat, not a catchy one you could be singing around, but it’s got a vibe, and also some bass. “Fine like Omotola.”
Jeremih’s influence, maybe, but “Secret” is a different one for Burna. Some alternative Afro thingy and Burna wasn’t doing the hook. Weird, right? I know. But it will suffice.
“Collateral Damage” isn’t perfect, anyone would like it, but it’s flawed a bit. Mad beat, but what he was doing wasn’t clear. His vocals were still as good as ever, anyway.
“Another Story” will give you instant chills, just as the skit ends. It’s the raw-est vibe on the LP. Socio-political views, Fela vibes. Why M.anifest? “Same thing, Ghana Naija,” Ghana’s rap god said it, not me.
A few days before the album officially came, “Pull Up” was online, and it instantly registered as the next big hit of 2019. Fire hook, contagious beat and why do I have to say, Burna! As it happened, “Pull Up” was on the album, even though it sounds like it wasn’t made for the album. It’s a hit single potential. But he was screaming “African Giant” on the end, so I plan on knocking myself out.
Blak Ryno‘s electric skit was connected to “Destiny”, a track with a confusing instrumental pattern with a story-line. From there, the album went deep.
Burna put on his Don Gorgon ego on “Different” shortly afterward with much-respected Reggae singer, Damian Marley putting his Rasta vibe on the dancehall-afro. Legendary female vocalist, Angelique Kidjo had some stuff on there some east African will kill for, on there.
“Show & Tell” and “This Side” are pretty much just show-off for collaborations. The former had trap star, Future and the other, popular hip-hop artist, YG. Just good ’ol afro x hip-hop tunes.
It needs with something for the parties, “Spiritual” a very electric type of vibe, with every line of it echoing Dotman, for some reason.
Bottom line, Burna wouldn’t give us an album just to fail us. But you already know that. So I’d just say, he didn’t out-perform himself, as anyone might have imagined. But these are trying times, and “African Giant” is gold!
Rating: 4.5/5 (Smoking!)