There’s no better way to set the stage for what is a definitive next-level moment in the career of Grammy-nominated artist Burna Boy, with his new Diddy-produced studio album, than the first track ‘Level Up’ which features the incomparable vocals of Youssor N’Dou.
‘And If you’re feeling like you cant level up omo make you no stop at all, Because right when you feel like you can’t level up That’s when you have to shut the devil up,’ reads but a few lines of the lyrics. The messaging is powerful, encouraging Africans to take up the mantle of fighting for their rights and not be afraid.
‘Wonderful’ features the only video so far released on the Atlantic Records album, having been revealed on 1st July 2020. Who knew this would have been an indicative piece of what was to come barely two months later. ‘Onyeka (Baby)’ doesn’t have lyrics listed yet on YouTube, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s such a happy and triumphant tune, which may probably be my favourite, and hopefully yours.
‘Naughty By Nature’ featuring Naughty By Nature is a reflection of Burna’s journey to where he is now. He talks about how it was difficult looking for spare change to make the journey back to the mainland (from Lagos). The more you think about it, this is such an introspection into the life of one of the biggest artists there is out of Africa (not a country).
’23‘ is somber and deep, with regret and lessons, and a revelation of why he makes music… because it makes him happy. Kenya’s Sauti Sol grace Burna Boy’s latest offering on ‘Time Flies’, a seductive single that sets the table well for this East African band that’s also just released their own album.
SEE ALSO: Sauti Sol’s new sounds are mesmerising
‘Monsters you Made’ appears to be the strongest political statement on the album, featuring Chris Martin, and explores the injustices on an oppressed race that’s convinced enough should be enough.
‘Way Too Big’ is a funkier take for this African giant. I’m liking the smooth jibes and the 2000s feel of the track that’s a feel-good but full of bravado expression of just not being subtle about trying to prove himself to anyone.
‘No Fit Vex‘ and ‘Bank on It’ follow with more positive twists than their predecessor in the line up. Burna Boy wishes you love, success and no ill will, in your grind and daily struggle, while in ‘Bank On It’, a spiritual, jam-a-delic thumpy yet beautiful track, he asks for forgiveness if he fumbles, and for protection from his enemies. The song culminates with a choir harmonizing the main hook, and it’s nothing short of a joy to listen to.
‘Alarm Clock’ may be short but it sticks to the spiritual, with P. Diddy voicing an inspirational message at the start, highlighting the strength of community and togetherness. Paraphrased, Burna says ‘you’re going to discover that I’m unstoppable’.
‘Comma’ has a more danceable beat to it, sure to be a club banger, while ‘Bebo’ seems safer for him, sharing a musical wavelength we’re all too familiar with from the artist, alongside ‘Wetin Dey Sup’ and ‘Real Life’ featuring Stormzy.
‘Twice as Tall’ being Burna Boy’s fifth studio album is a firm stamp on the global music industry that he’s an artist who has learnt, and continues to learn, from his influences and experiences. He is cognizant of his heritage, and unashamed to elevate the sounds he’s moulded and shared with Africans to the rest of the world. He really has levelled up, and he’s happy to bring the rest of us along with him.
This intricate yet multi-dimensional album can be streamed on the following sites:
Apple Music: https://Burna.lnk.to/Apple