Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Album Review: Burna Boy - African Giant

Burna Boy
African Giant
**** out of *****

The newest release from Nigerian singer Burna Boy (aka Damini Ogulu) is an intoxicating mix of styles, substance and sounds as all of his many influences get air time over the hour long African Giant. The Afro-Fusion artist incorporates many genres and even as things hop around from song to song the overall cohesion of the record is rewarding.

The easy flow from Burna Boy is accentuated by various focal points, the opening title track announces it's presence with an easy beat and flamenco guitar line while "Anybody" blows a saxophone with yacht rock lightness and ease, but these are not light and airy tunes. The song "Dangote" uses an odd spastic beat, trumpets and strong singing, threatening to break big, but instead stays even to describe the poverty and financial injustice. The title is the last name of the richest African Aliko Dangote who is Nigerian. The state of his country is firmly on Ogulu's mind as Nigeria history is the backbone on the soulful "Another Story" as he speaks to and for his people

The groove is central to everything here as well, tracks like on the hypnotic "Wetin Man Go Do" or the plucking/rolling ease found on "Pull Up" as these songs (and the majority of the record) were produced by Kel P while "Collateral Damage" deliver a seventies funk vibe. Damian Marley and Angelique Kidjo support on the slapping "Different" which announces the times they are a changing while there is no need to say it during the bumping "This Side" with YG.

Modern day hip-hop and R&B grooves play central roles on the get down club track "Gum Body" featuring killer lines from Jorja Smith in a frothy duet while "Omo" kicks up the dance beats and rhymes while "Killin Dem" uses minimalist warbling beats and percussion to interesting effect as Zlatan arrives rhyming with power. "Show and Tell"brings Future to help out on the Skillrex/Dre Skull produced track which pumps up the bass but both Future and Burna Boy's more aggressive style of rhyming on this effort isn't the best on the album.

Successful tracks like "Destiny", "Gbona", "On The Low" and "Spiritual" manage to infuse all of the influences into a winning mix of guitar lines, vibrant percussion, personal singing and smooth head bopping grooves never breaking loose into full on raves, more like a cool late night lounge vibes in the hippest club in the world. 

While the term "world" is a shitty way to describe "non-American" music, Burna Boy has truly incorporated many modern world sounds into a common cool thread and structure. While his previously release Outside may have announced his talent to the world African Giant is leaps ahead, living up to his boastful title with aplomb. 
Support the artist, buy the album and peep some video below:

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