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Burna Boy Eyes Grammy With Twice As Tall

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There is no world where the name Burna Boy does not draw attention. If not for the sheer braggadocio and pride that the name has become synonymous with, it is the promotion of the Afrobeats genre or his pan-african views and subtle hint at the concept of negritude.

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With his nomination at the Grammy last year, and consequent loss to the eclectic, deserving ‘Mama of Africa’, Angelique Kidjo, music enthusiasts posited that the ‘Ye’ singer was going to drop something to affirm his greatness despite the Grammy loss and prove to all and sundry that the tag, African Giant was not for show.

His recent 15-track album, ‘Twice As Tall’ discusses Burna Boy’s political thoughts and opinions, his personal struggles and frailties, his moving onward and forward, yet unchanging in his stance, his dream for Africa and obvious disgust at the Euro-centric view of Africa. The album is many truths wrapped into one and as you uncover each track, you realize that the sweetness will not end here.

For this writer, who is very much a rap and Hip Hop addict, it is immensely pleasing to see an Afrobeats album that takes lessons on history, dissects present truth and drops vision for the future with its lyrics.

The most important song on the album is evidently ‘Monsters You Made’. Teased during the IG LIve Battle of Hitsbetween its producer, Leriq and Chopstix on April 4, 2020, it was a window into what to expect. With the current #BlackLivesMatter tearing through Europe like wildfire and the #RevolutionNow protests in Nigeria, the song could not have come at a more precise time.

A cursory look at the songs in the album will present to any listener that Burna Boy is constantly remembering his Grammy loss, and he is passionately eyeing a comeback in the 2021 event.

The thread of speaking about his view on local and global issues which started in African Giant continues in this album, and with this project, there’s more than a 90% chance that he is getting himself the famed Grammy.

On, ‘Level Up, Burna Boy features Youssou N’dour with his beautiful voice and opens up to his bout and struggle with self-doubt. He speaks about the Grammy loss and the paralysing low self-esteem that beclouded him.

In one line, he says, “I remember when me couldn’t level up, cause the Grammy had me feeling sick as fuck.” It is an interesting story to place as the opening track on a project as this. The paradox of vulnerability in this song and the tag, Twice as Tall is not lost on the audience.

However, even before the end of the song, Burna Boy notes that he is back and this time stronger. He sings, “Tell them they can’t bury us… Come back feeling Twice as tall…”

The transition from this song to Alarm Clock is sublime. There’s the saxophone and hard drums which give it an undeniable Afrobeats feel. If not for the lyrics, this is the kind of song, Fela used in the 1970s to get the women shaking their hips and waist. The song is a wake-up call. Or how best do you describe the ending lyrics, “Set your alarm clock/Aye yo, you awake yet.”

‘Way Too Big’ is a validation song about Burna Boy’s art and personality. It is a funky song where he speaks straight to his detractors, telling them he is “way too big to be f**king with you.”

‘Wonderful’ and Time Flies with Sauti Sol are good songs no doubt, but if you’ve seen a number of movies discussing slave trade and the exploitation of the black man, you’ll understand that this is the narrative the instrumental in these songs are preaching. The songs are more strategy than music, strategy to show Africa’s plight. This is well illustrated in the ‘Wonderful’ video. The reference at the end of Time Flies’ also show this narrative.

‘Naughty By Nature’, featuring the rap group with the same known is a subtle track to show that he is still the Burna Boy from yesteryears as we know him. He however, speaks about his detest and distaste for politics, a topic which is etched all over the project.

No Fit Vex’ is definitely a personal note to himself. It is an introspection into Burna Boy’s person and things he has learned as an artiste, and those he wished he had learned earlier. In the same vein, he distances himself from issues of little or no relevance. He speaks about how his focus is on finding the daily bread and the little energy he has for seemingly inconsequential tales.

Read more: Music Review: BADYOUTH’s Master Groove Is As Good As A Debut EP Can Go

In ’23’, he drops the ‘Woro si Woro’ phrase which he first used in his verse on the remix of Master KG’s Jerusalema. With his allusion to ace Michael Jordan, one can definitely say the song is a sort of homage to the ace basketballer, considering he wears the number 23 jersey.

Monsters You Made‘ with Chris Martin is one song that most of us looked forward to hearing. The Reggae-Fusion is definitely an anthem for revolution and social change. The anger Burna Boy carries about what Africa has sadly turned into is laid bare and naked in this song. Burna Boy, who has always been an avid speaker against the oppression of the continent goes all out in this song.

The opening line for ‘Wetin Dey Sup’ which is a street slang has brought criticism from the LGBTQ community. The 29-year-old sings, “I nor be one of those men who dey fear toto fuck nyash, check am na pa koro pa…”  which in a sense is homophobic, however not to sound ‘woke’, this writer doubts that the line is a shade at homosexuals.

First off, the album must have gone through a lot of checks and editing, so there is a huge chance that any homophobic statement would not have passed through. Also, in the next song, Real Life’, with Stormzy, Burna Boy sings, ‘”Ifdem wan fuck you for nyash, no lie down”, meaning that the allusion to ass is something deeper, and ass could be a symbol for life and facing your troubles, rather than going for the ‘toto’ which is an easier route to the problem.

‘Bank On It, is a spiritual bouncy bop song which is this writer’s favorite song. It starts simple and the truth and prayer for forgiveness juxtaposed with plea for protection is nothing short of beautiful. With the choir singing the hook, it is a beautiful outro you’ll want to leave on repeat.

In all honesty, Burna Boy is an artiste who learns, unlearns, relearns and never stops learning. With each song, even from his genesis in the music industry and his climb to limelight, he has always shown that there is something burning deep inside him, and music for him is a personal business, a medium to communicate on a global scale, and an art to be treasured.

With this fifth album, he fuses everything he has learnt, from his days as a street boy to his crowning as African Giant. He understands that he is closer with each step to a legend status (some might argue that he is there already. Well isn’t he?) and that his music is not only for local consumption, so all the aesthetics to be employed in his music must be at the optimum. He needs to make a big statement after an album like ‘African Giant’ and he does not disappoint.

 

Burna Boy has definitely made a Grammy worthy album. What remains is to see if he finally clinches it.\"\"

Photo Credit: Instagram

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