Do y’all remember Coachella? Burna Boy struck up some “drama” after he appeared four lines down the bill on the poster for this year’s Coachella festival. “I am an AFRICAN GIANT and will not be reduced to whatever that tiny writing means, Fix tings quick please”, the Nigerian artist went ahead to post on Instagram. Here we are now, with a record that emphasizes his global status. This is Burna Boy with African Giant.
The highly anticipated ‘African Giant’ is Burna Boy’s fourth studio album. This is his first full-length project since last year’s Outside, which reached No. 3 on Billboard’s US Reggae Albums chart. Is this his best work yet? Let’s see. The album has 19 songs but (hear me out) it’s just an hour long. Are artists following Chris Brown’s footsteps in releasing long albums that have to be muted cause they are too damn long? Debatable. This specific album is not one to be muted.
It goes without saying that Burna Boy’s niche is Afro-fusion; an amalgam of Afrobeat, RnB, reggae, dancehall, and hip-hop. There are major collaborations on this album which definitely boost Burna Boy’s profile both in the UK and the US. Future, YG, Jeremih, Jorja Smith, Damian Marley, and Angélique Kidjo are some of the great artists he managed to secure on this record.
‘African Giant’ comes at a time where more black artists are embracing their African roots. Burna Boy is proud of his heritage and it shows. The outro of ‘Spiritual’ by Bose Ogulu clearly states, “And, the message from Burna I believe would be that every black person should please remember that you were Africans before you became anything else.”
In ‘Another Story’, Burna Boy brings to light the story of the Nigerian colonial history and its ties to the British Empire. “…they wanna tell you another story…since 1960 them dey play us…”, Burna Boy sings in the hook. The track features Ghanaian artist M.anifest who illustrates the similar struggles between both countries.
‘Dangote’, named after the Forbes #1 Richest Man in Africa, Aliko Dangote from Nigeria, could serve as an inspiration for those in poverty. “…Dangote dey find money o/ Otedola dey find money/ Why me no go find money o/Ah ahn find money”. In conclusion, go hustle and secure that bag honey!
What is an African album without some love or romance going on? ‘Secret’ which features Jeremih and Serani channels romance with some of the lyrics being sexual or whatever. The saxophone flourishes on ‘Gbona’ and ‘Anybody’ giving us Fela Kuti vibes who has been Burna Boy’s idol for the longest time. ‘On The Low’ and the percussive ‘Killin Dem’ are tracks you’re probably familiar with because they were already pre-released.
‘Show & Tell’ featuring Future is what I like to call a basic song in 2019 where artists brag about money, power, diamonds and whatever else they own sprinkling some big brands in the verses. It’s an okay collaboration, as is ‘This Side’ featuring YG. ‘Gum Body’ is such a smooth type of vibe song and Jorja Smith’s silky vocals make it even better. Burna Boy shows off his beautiful voice in ‘Collateral Damage’ and ‘Omo’ with some rounded minor-key melodies.
With 19 songs, it’s definitely a packed album but it has proven to be worth the listen. Burna Boy may have pulled off what I think is his best work yet. My top 3 songs have to be ‘Killin Dem’, ‘Destiny’ and ‘Gum Body’. With the warm reception this project has received, it just goes to show that African Music is becoming more mainstream. I honestly loved this album so I would 8 out of 10 times recommend it to anyone. A wise man once tweeted, “Any African that has a dream or hope for his people or himself is an African Giant”. Burna Boy is the wise man. Can’t wait to see what more this African Giant has in store for us but for now, on behalf of his fans, we appreciate the effort and time he took in creating this masterpiece.
Stream the album here.