The highly anticipated ‘African Giant’ is the fourth studio album from Nigerian artist Burna Boy.
Born Damini Ogulu, he has already collabed with Dave for ‘Location’, alongside stints in the studio with Lily Allen and current Clash cover star Mahalia, so it seems like the perfect time for this album to be released.
The relaxed Afrobeat vibe of ‘African Giant’ is appropriate listening, especially given this current heatwave. The 19-track album is very summer friendly. The title track is tantalising, and a good introduction to the rest of the album.
Like many of the tracks on ‘African Giant’, ‘Collateral Damage’ is upbeat and infectious. Burna Boy is proud of his heritage and speaks about Nigeria’s history and ties to British Empire in ‘Another Story’ (“they wanna tell you another story”), whereas tracks like ‘Pull Up’ feel a little forgettable and the lyrics seem superficial: “I pull up, girl I'm outside...”
‘On The Low’ is different from the other tracks on the album but it is a good one. It also sets the tone for the following tracks with Future and YG. There are some impressive collaborations on the record, with Jorja Smith, Jeremih, Damian Marley and Future making appearances.
Jorja Smith lends her silky vocals on ‘Gum Body’, while ‘Killin Dem’ (featuring Zlatan) is more up tempo. ‘Secret’ (featuring Jeremih and Serani) sounds very romantic, considering some of the sexual nature of the lyrics.
‘Different’ (featuring Damian Marley and Angelique Kidjo) is an enjoyable track but it does feel like something is missing. We were expecting more. ‘Show And Tell’ (featuring Future) is a more satisfying collaboration, as is ‘This Side’ (featuring YG).
Overall, though, ‘African Giant’ is a cohesive piece of work. The tracks have a subtle dancehall theme which threads through them. 19 tracks may have been too ambitious in this case but Burna Boy is an example of why African music is gaining popularity and becoming more mainstream.
Words: Narzra Ahmed
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