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TWICE AS TALL, TWICE AS GOOD

Everyone already knows Burna Boy. The Nigerian master of controversy and prima donna. From sending a fan out of his show for not “turning up” enough, to his crazy comments about the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa in 2019, to declaring himself the “best since Fela” on Twitter, which he unsurprisingly received a lot of criticism and disapproval for amongst the Nigerian fans. Burna Boy has always found a way to make himself one of the hottest topics of discussion in the Nigerian music scene. Perhaps his most controversial moment yet being the 2019 Grammy nomination for Best World Album for his highly acclaimed African Giant album which he unfortunately lost to a probably more deserving Angelique Kidjo.

It can’t be denied though that Burna Boy has been one of the most talented, versatile and influential  Nigerian and African artists, over the years, with several releases and following successes of his music projects, his several international collaborations with the likes of Future, Major Lazer, Drake and even multi Grammy award winner Beyoncé, several award winnings like the Best African Act at MTV EMA awards and Best International Act at the BET awards both in 2019 and his prominent feature in the Coachella Music Festival the same year (which displeased him because of the event’s listing of his name) alongside big names like Childish Gambino, Kid Cudi and Ariana Grande. Burna Boy is undoubtedly one of the artists that popularized the Afrobeats sound internationally.

His last two albums; Outside and African Giant, which were really huge projects both for the listeners and Burna himself, have been really instrumental, to say the least, in helping with his mission of crossing over to the worldwide level. Songs like “Ye” and “Street of Africa” on the Outside album and “Anybody” and “Dangote” as well as other hits on the African Giant album were stepping stones to how tall Burna may be today, cementing his status as one of Africa’s stellar acts and also an ambassador of Afrobeats music.

Talking about Burna Boy and his music would be incomplete without the mention of his controversies and public stunts. It’s part of what makes him who he is, it’s what a lot of his music is about; the fierceness, aggressiveness and savagery. Just like his idol, the legendary Afrobeats pioneer Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Burna has never been one to back down from a fight, he comes at you with the fire. A lot of times, we see artists act out when checked about what they believe in or how important or impactful their work is but, I guess, what are geniuses without the madness. The announcement and successful release of The Lion King; The Gift album which became the Black Is King visual project, by Beyonce, saw a lot of elite African acts like Burna, Yemi Alade, Wizkid, Mr Eazi and Ghanaian superstar Shatta Wale featured on the culturally colossal project, with the message of breaching the gap between Africa and the rest of the world through music. This didn’t all go down well with the fans though as Beyonce was accused of appropriation of the African culture and music. Popular entertainment personality Charlamagne, who is known for his crazy interviews on The Breakfast Club platform asked Burna what he thought about the album, the message and the Beyonce accusations but Burna Boy shadily ignored the question while his dissatisfaction for the project was so glaring under his made-up façade of lack of interest. It was rumored that Burna Boy didn’t approve of his omission from the Black Is King visuals even though he had a song all to himself on the album.

Although, Angelique Kidjo, whom Burna Boy lost the 2019 Grammy Award for Best World Music Album to, during her acceptance speech, encouraged and dedicated the award winning to Burna who was clearly devastated, it became evident that Burna Boy desired that award so much as he believes that will be another stepping stone to the fulfillment of his Pan-African message and he would stop at nothing until he gets it. As the reality of the corona virus pandemic settled in and artists had to adjust in staying connected to their fans virtually, one of  Burna Boy’s frequent collaborator and producer, Leriq, in a beat contest with Chopstiix, another popular Nigerian producer, via Instagram Live, played some unreleased beats he made specially for Burna and fans reacted so well to the music, hoping that the Odogwu himself would continue where he left off with the African Giant project. But Burna had better plans.

Burna Boy announced the release of his 5th studio album titled Twice As Tall, slated for August 13. The album which was recorded mostly during the pandemic was executively produced by Diddy, his mother, Bosede Ogulu and Burna himself. Burna continued with working with his trusted Spaceship Collective in-house producers like Telz, Leriq also other producers like Rexxie, Jae5, Mike Dean, Timbaland, Anderson. Paak and Skread had contributions and credits. Burna’s primary motive of uniting black people across all diasporas through his music becomes evident through the specially chosen guest appearances on this project. Kenya’s sweetheart group Sauti Sol, UK grime rapper Stormzy, Senegalese superstar Youssou N’Dour, vintage rap greats Naughty By Nature and Coldplay’s Chris Martin are all featured on the album.

The Twice As Tall album was the last thing Burna’s Nigerian fans, most especially, wanted in terms of the general feeling and mood of the project. In spite of a lot of bad things happening around in the country, people here don’t really like to be deep, conscious or introspective of important issues. And that was what a lot of this album was about. The album was about speaking up and acting against police brutality, corruption, racism, miseducation and inferiority to colonialism and uniting black people all around the world.

Like Fela said; “…music cannot be for enjoyment, music has to be for revolution…”, of course, this Burna project can definitely be enjoyed but it is mainly about being socially aware and awakening and sharpening our cultural and political views. 

The Twice As Tall album which is a pure blend of afrobeats, hip hop, reggae, dancehall and electronic music, best described as Afrofusion by Burna himself, shows a lot of his ability to switch styles and flows. The album starts off with “Level Up”, an invitation to the inspiring story of hustling and bustling and eventual rise to the top. Continuing with “Alarm Clock”, a strong reminder for Burna and his enemies that he is unstoppable in his quest for glory. “Wonderful” like “Dangote” on the African Giant album serves as an encouragement to never give up and to always want more as Burna reassures himself on the journey to greatness. “No Fit Vex” addresses Burna’s haters, those who try to undermine his struggles and success simply because they don’t understand what he’s doing. Burna goes full-on rockstar on the “Monsters You Made” song with Chris Martin, protesting against social and political injustice. The project is not all radical and sober though as Burna completes the project with good vibes like “Onyeka”, “Comma” and “Time Flies” with Sauti Sol, a song about dancing, partying and living your life to the fullest.

 

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It’s not been a month yet after the release of the album but the success is already clearly evident. Burna Boy’s Twice As Tall peaked at no.6 on the Apple Music Worldwide chart, the highest for any Nigerian album. The album has also peaked at no.1 on Apple Music in 48 different countries worldwide.

With this, Burna engrains and sets his name in stone in the music legacy of Nigeria, Africa and the world at large. The question on everyone’s lips now; hopefully, finally Burna gets what he truly deserves by bringing home that Grammy award. 

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