Afrobeats has a new poster boy and that’s Burna Boy. His is a story of grit, goodwill, hard work, and the perfection of artistry. When news broke that the likes of Diddy, Timbaland, Mike Dean, and Anderson Paak were working on the album, it was clear that the album was seeking international appeal and when you consider the obvious patronizing to the foreign audience that was done on the first single (Wonderful), one would think that the album was crafted solely for the purpose of appealing to the Grammys but that’s not the case.
A music superstar has the power to dictate the sound of the moment. More than just the power, he or she has the responsibility to lead the charge on what the next music wave should be. Now here comes Burna Boy, a savant of an artist. A musician with the ability to fit into any music space he is put in. He’s fearless and extremely conscious of his abilities so he flexes it in your face. You may detest his pride but you can’t deny his talent. On listening to Twice As Tall, you can tell that Burna Boy is firmly in charge of everything.
With assistance from the likes of Diddy, his mum and the host of international and local producers such as Telz, Rexxie and Leriq, his long time friend and associate, he sets the course for an enthralling music journey that kicks off with laying his vulnerabilities bare on wax (Level Up). He makes reference to losing at the Grammys last year and how it almost made him envious of Angelique Kidjo. We always suspected that he was deeply hurt by the loss but hearing him confirm our suspicions and being brutally honest about it shows us how far he has grown as an artist and as a person. The impressive run continues from track 2 to track 8 with the standout track being Way Too Big, a song that is contending to be the next single and the next party anthem for the rest of the year.
The real brilliance of Burna’s artistry comes alive in the second half of the album. No Fit Vex embodies the concept of well-wishing and goodwill. On 23, the legacy of Michael Jordan is further extended as Burna Boy likens himself to the iconic athlete while reminding him of the hypocrites/haters/obstacles that he passed through to get to where he is. Sauti Sol and Burna Boy is a combination we never knew we needed. The soulful and almost orgasmic rendition of Time Flies is flawless. It’s a sweet song with a long aftertaste in your ears and mind. Burna Boy on a rock song? Why not? Remember versatility is one of Burna’s core strengths so with that in mind, Monsters You Made featuring Chris Martin of Coldplay is not just an important song (because of the message it seeks to share) but it also bears testament to the level that Burna Boy has gotten to. A Chris Martin feature is the stuff of dreams.
The song presents to you a message in a Ying-Yang form. While Chris Martin firmly but subtly stands his ground on the hook, Burna Boy rips into his verses with passion, anger, and purpose. Different approaches on the same song and yet brilliantly executed. Wetin Dey Sup is the Port-Harcourt side of Burna Boy coming to play and telling you that he can handle whatever situation you bring to him. Stormzy connects with Burna Boy on Real Life to remind us to pause and appreciate the beauty of life all around us. These are two music superstars who understand how easy it is to get lost in the proverbial sauce and lose focus of the things that are most important. The album comes to a close with Bank with it, a statement from Burna Boy, assuring us that we can always count on him to deliver as far as music is concerned. #BurnaBoy