With the first summer of the decade falling short of all our expectations, Burna Boy might be one of the few people saving us from completely canceling Summer 2020. To say that this year has been a rollercoaster of events would be an understatement however, this has not stopped him from dropping his follow up to one of the greatest albums from the African continent – scratch that, one of the greatest albums of all time – African Giant.
The new album, Twice As Tall, was always going to be tough 2nd act to African Giant, but if Burna has shown us anything, it’s that he is built for greatness. This greatness is put on full display in every aspect of the album – from the rollout to the production, features, and even the sales. The audacity of the music is visible right from the intro sequence of Level Up, Alarm Clock & Way Too Big, showing the full intent of the album – letting you know from the start that you are not on his level. It is very evident that in the year since dropping his last album (and the disappointment that came with the Grammy loss), there has been substantial growth in how Burna approaches music.
Burna’s rise over the past few years is also largely in part due to his incredible ability to share intense energy with fans during his performances across the globe.
Burna’s sounds have evolved from Nigerian music to music representing the whole of West Africa, pushing the boundaries of what we know as ‘Afrobeats’. Now he has dropped an album many would describe as a crossover album, executive produced by Diddy and featuring a diverse host of artists and producers including Youssou N’Dour, Sauti Sol, Naughty by Nature, Stormzy, Telz, Leriq, Mike Dean, Timbaland, JAE 5 just to mention a few. The invitation of these different acts (several non-African) into his world has not led the albums’ core-feel astray. In total control of his art and sound, Burna has stayed true to his fundamental messaging and mission to elevate the continent.
Some standouts on this album: Onyeka (Baby) & Wonderful – perfect soundtracks for coming out of lockdown, and No Fit Vex & Real Life – tunes to feed your soul. My personal favorite, No Fit Vex, showcases Burna’s ability to convey the relatable aspects of the African experience. There is a reason that Burna has been embraced by African youth across the world. The things that one must do to succeed from their surroundings may differ but despite the hardships, watching one of your people make it is always inspiring. In the words of Burna “Life e no easy my brother, you dey find your own, I dey find my own…”
In a time where Afrobeats is gaining recognition as one of the hardest music genres from Africa, Burna has shown the world that ‘African Giant’ and ‘Twice as Tall’ are not simply album names, they are statements of intent. Burna goes deep into his bag to show his listeners how limitless his ability is, and just as the title suggests, he has proved he is much bigger than a region or a genre. With no compromise to the sounds of the motherland, having Diddy as an executive producer has been a machine in further pushing this music to greater heights – a masterstroke that has not been fully appreciated in this pandemic. The “surprise” drop, the bundling with the comic book, and debut positions on the charts (Number 1 on the Billboard World Albums Chart and Number 54 on Billboard 200) only prove his level of excellence.
Burna’s rise over the past few years is also largely in part due to his incredible ability to share intense energy with fans during his performances across the globe. Unfortunately, 2020 has stripped him of the opportunity to connect with his fans on such an intimate level. The impact of his performances have proved to be long-lasting and go beyond the music – his 2019 concerts were so legendary that even watching them online now still feels like you were there. It is difficult to say how Twice As Tall will be immortalized in history without the opportunity to connect through live shows but one thing is for certain – Burna Boy has doubled down on this new album and continues to lead the changes we see in the Afro-fusion musical landscape. It is no doubt that Burna is just getting started, however, there is an undeniable feeling in the air that all of those who failed to recognize his greatness will be eating their words soon and handing over all the accolades.
Papa Tumi aka number cruncher and music lover is a Ghana-born man living in Toronto who has been blessed to experience life in the diaspora. He loves all things music, culture, food, and art with an inclination for putting together playlists to suit every mood and accompany any experience.