"TWICE AS TALL" MY EXPERIENCE/REVIEW.

"THRICE AS TALL" BURNA BOY ALBUM REVIEW

"TWICE AS TALL" MY EXPERIENCE/REVIEW.
Photo taken by Yusuf Sanni

Personally, I didn’t come across the tracklist and official announcement for the release of the musical genius fifth studio album until a few days ago, when tons of tweets rolled out and it was impossible not to be aware that the African giant was about to unleash gems upon the world.

The earliest memories I have of Burna Boy's music was “Burn Identity”. A mixtape he conjured with his musically inclined friend and producer LERIQ back in 2011 before the fame and his hit single “LIKE TO PARTY'' took the industry by surprise. Burn Identity was a mixtape that showcased the Afro-fusion singers' versatility and style of delivery that was unique in the Nigerian music industry. Before that, he had released another mixtape titled “Burn Notice” but I was only familiar with the second mixtape (Burn Identity) that gained the followership of many of his current fan base across the world. I have been a fan of Burna Boys music since I could comprehend Do, Re, Mi.

His lyrical content and ability to switch melodies comfortably with his baritone voice attracted me to his craft. I always misconstrued “Burn Identity” as the first album for the Nigerian Grammy Nominated singer not until I understood the difference between a mixtape and an album. Mixtapes are a great avenue for artists to showcase their true potentials in preparation for a studio album. I remember downloading the 15 tracks mixtape on my Nokia Symbian phone and bumping his tunes word for word. The mixtape featured a couple of professional artistes that brought a different flavor to the project but clearly couldn’t shake him off any of the tracks. Burnaboy was about to evolve from a level many Nigerian artistes didn’t even take off from. Born Damini Ogulu with the moniker Burnaboy is unbelievably talented at putting projects together which showed in all of his studio albums from that point on.

From his debut studio album, L.I.F.E; ( Leaving an impact for eternity) which had a picture of him as a baby on the art cover with a microphone in hand registered the singer as a force to reckon with in the Nigerian music scene.

Young Burna wore a bright smile, dressed in Yoruba attire with images of great musical legends in the background. Most people won’t notice, but pictures of FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI, BOB MARLEY & KING SUNNY ADE were faintly engraved in the background of the art cover of his first studio album which depicted those he looked up to and wanted to surpass. The Afro-fusion singer had a plethora of hit singles from his first project ranging from LIKE TO PARTY, TONIGHT, RUN MY RACE, YAWA DEY to ALWAYS LOVE YOU. The album featured guest appearances that were big names in the Nigerian music industry such as 2face idibia, Wizkid, Olamide, Reminisce, M.I, Timaya. He followed up with amazing projects over the years that included some of the biggest hits the Nigerian music industry witnessed.

He has proved himself as an artiste with an unwavering consistency that has stuck to his style of delivery while experimenting with a range of sounds.

Born Damini Ogulu uses his latest project to propel Nigerian music to another level like never before. His musical journey is reflected in this project in a manner that promotes the African culture in entirety. “TWICE AS TALL’’ he names it.

The masterpiece is executively produced by Sean Combs AKA Diddy, Bose Ogulu AKA Mama Burna, and the singer himself, Damini Ogulu. The project featured a sublime blend of guest appearances from both prior and present-day artistes.

From YOUSSOU N’DOUR, a Senegalese singer, songwriter, occasional actor, and politician who cemented a concrete chorus to the opening track of the project to NAUGHTY BY NATURE, an American hip hop trio from the 80s consisting of TREACH, VIN ROCK, and Dj KAY GEE. Burna Boy features the ever melodious Kenyan Pop Band SAUTI SOL to return the energy of the classic record they collaborated on in 2018 titled “Afrikan Star”. He joins forces with extraordinaire British act Chris Martin from the Rock band “COLDPLAY” who rendered an unprecedented chorus for the Awakening record in the project and finally, STORMZY; the UK rapper who delivered an unanticipated verse that was befitting for the record leading to the close of the project.

The 15 track project had the Afro-pop singer team up with eccentric producers that delivered an array of sounds ranging from Afro Pop, Afro Beat, Bashment, Afro-Fusion, Afro-Swing, Kapuka, Reggae-Fusion, and Electronic that gelled together to birth yet another one of the best albums the African Giant has given us his fans. The project went on for 52 minutes that I really hope would be more because of the amount of joy that filled my heart and ears while listening for the first time.

Photo taken by Emmyshotz from https://www.facebook.com/Emmyshotz/

I should tell you I had recently stalked Burnas YouTube page for a live stream about 20 minutes before the release of his album that featured his mother Bose Ogulu, sister Nissi Ogulu, his girlfriend Stefflon Don, stylist Romani Ogulu and a host of other members of his team that all stood behind him in what looked like a living room that was about to transform into a listening session once the album was released. Burna Boy had his hair styled in the usual cornrow fashion he would subscribe to once he was about his business and not in a relaxed state where he unpacked the locs. He had on a white T-shirt with thick diamond chains on his neck. The singer was staring into the camera when I joined the live stream so it was almost like he was saying hi while he sipped what seemed to be a jug of Star Lager beer from a short straw. The comment section was going bizzare with a huge number of fans doing a countdown minutes away from the release. Oh yes, I joined the countdown because I was that excited, I mean who wasn't?

At exactly midnight the album was available on all streaming platforms and my dilemma was which platform to download from and listen to. I hurriedly downloaded the album on my Apple Music app and streamed on my laptop for better listening with the home theatre. My experience? Here.

The first track, titled LEVEL UP took me on a journey into the mind of the Grammy-nominated singer. He inspires through his lyrics to never give up and shows his rarely seen side of doubts and hardship. For an artist who defies the code of being an entertainer who must tuck his emotions from the public for the sake of his brand and all that's associated with his career, Burna boy upholds a persona of wearing his heart on his sleeve and this is revealed on the track “LEVEL UP” as he shares his reality upon losing the Grammy. In a tweet, a dear fan asked Burna how he felt losing the Grammy and he answered “sick, Totally sick. But my musical Mother @angeliquekidjo told me everything I needed to understand about the Grammys. So now I’m “Twice as Tall” (that’s the name of the next album by the way dropping in July by the grace of the highest)”.

ALARM CLOCK, which was the next track on the project gave me flashes of ANYBODY from his previous album AFRICAN GIANT. The sumptuous sound of the Afro-beat can not be mistaken on the record as the drums created a mood that made me move my feet. A little chant here and there resonated round the record giving it an undeniable feel as if it were FELA reincarnated in the singer. He flexes his indigenous lingo and catchy lyrics to create yet another masterpiece.

What is this sound that seems to not have a peak? It just keeps climbing in my ear space. I don’t know if it’ll fit in my GYM playlist or my HYPED MOOD one. The singer gives the instrumental a befitting melody laced with his baritone voice that was sprinkled at the right spots in the song. It is undoubtedly one of my favorites on the album. The chorus is a catchy one that had the singer reaching his high pitched vocal state. I couldn’t help myself. I had to play it again even though it was against my code of diving into a project.

The next tune kicks off with Burna humming melodies that led the way for a soft “Sekere” playing in the background. The record slowly builds up to the singer dishing one of the most catchy hooks on the project. BELU oooo BELU oooo is what I kept on screaming in my subconscious the whole time the record was on. I must add that Rexxie did an outstanding job with the instrumentation because for me it was not the complete replica of the sort of familiar sound he dished out for the Zanku movement. The difference for me was the fact that he added guitar strings to bring the tempo to a much slower pace so the singer can add melodies to give a well-composed Afro-pop record.

Photo by Emmyshotz

Burna Boys high pitched voice came blaring from the speakers on the next record that was supported by what seemed to sound like a full choir backing his lead vocals up. It took a while for the instruments to come rolling in but I was familiar with the next song that came on right from the unforgettable xylophone laced all around the instrumentals. WONDER sets a mood that you couldn’t deny was evident enough to make one move their feet. I listened to the song so much that I had googled Adebayo Ogunlesi whom the singer gave many appraisals to in the lyrics of the song and found out he is a Nigerian Lawyer, investment banker, and the son of Theophilus O. Ogulesi the first Nigerian professor of medicine at the University of Ibadan. Burna boy released a video for the hit single before the project was released that had over 4 million views on YouTube. This was the only song released from the project but it still felt great to listen to it with the new release.

The next record came in oozing nothing but groove. The claps paved the way for guitars and trumpets. In my head, I was saying prayers to Burna Boy for gifting us another record that proved yet again that he is the Afro-beat king. He solemnly hums melodies that still appeared at different sections of the song. ONYEKA(baby) is a love song. He professes his love for his woman and appraises her in a rather elated manner. He uses a black queen who holds a potent part of Nigerian history in her hands to describe his woman. Onyeka Onwenu is a Nigerian singer/songwriter, actress, human rights activist, social activist, journalist, politician, and former X Factor series judge. Dubbed the "Elegant Stallion" by the Nigerian press, she is a former chairperson of the Imo State Council for Arts and Culture. The Groovy tune is caressed by Burna's witty lyrics and style of delivery that results in a melodious record that goes on for three minutes and a few seconds. Yes, it's one of my personal favorites because I have a thing for love songs. If you know me then you'll know what I'm talking about.

The next song rolled in without hesitation and made the room feel like an 80s rave. On NAUGHTY BY NATURE, the Afro-pop singer shares his previous dilemmas and how he has always and will be a rebel. His run from the police and how he used to hitch a ride back to the mainland. He doesn't leave out how life is way better for him now in the verse and how he intends to always celebrate it to the fullest but most importantly how he would never change his nature and how he is “GANG GANG’’. The second verse opens up with the singer dishing out a nostalgic melody of the common nursery rhyme “Old soldier is dead” and the replies of “ooouuuu ahhhhh”. The rap trio shares their verses comfortably as ever with the laid down instrumentals familiar to their style of delivery. Different flavors of their rap vocals kept me feeling like I was at an 80s rave.

Burna Boys high pitched voice came blaring from the speakers on the next record that was supported by what seemed to sound like a full choir backing his lead vocals up. It took a while for the instruments to come rolling in but I was familiar with the next song that came on right from the unforgettable xylophone laced all around the instrumentals. WONDER sets a mood that you couldn’t deny was evident enough to make one move their feet. I listened to the song so much that I had googled Adebayo Ogunlesi whom the singer gave many appraisals to in the lyrics of the song and found out he is a Nigerian Lawyer, investment banker, and the son of Theophilus O. Ogulesi the first Nigerian professor of medicine at the University of Ibadan. Burna boy released a video for the hit single before the project was released that had over 4 million views on YouTube. This was the only song released from the project but it still felt great to listen to it with the new release.

The next record came in oozing nothing but groove. The claps paved the way for guitars and trumpets. In my head, I was saying prayers to Burna Boy for gifting us another record that proved yet again that he is the Afro-beat king. He solemnly hums melodies that still appeared at different sections of the song. ONYEKA(baby) is a love song. He professes his love for his woman and appraises her in a rather elated manner. He uses a black queen who holds a potent part of Nigerian history in her hands to describe his woman. Onyeka Onwenu is a Nigerian singer/songwriter, actress, human rights activist, social activist, journalist, politician, and former X Factor series judge. Dubbed the "Elegant Stallion" by the Nigerian press, she is a former chairperson of the Imo State Council for Arts and Culture. The Groovy tune is caressed by Burna's witty lyrics and style of delivery that results in a melodious record that goes on for three minutes and a few seconds. Yes, it's one of my personal favorites because I have a thing for love songs. If you know me then you'll know what I'm talking about. Burna Boys' rhyme in this song is impeccable which shows his music is influenced by his knowledge of rap music.

Photo taken by Yusuf Sanni

The next song is no doubt another club banger that is produced by the new-gen producer who spearheads the Zanku Movement. The singer is called back home to deliver familiar witty lyrics that will get you on your feet. On COMMA the singer proves he’s still very much capable of freestyling on afrobeat instrumentals to bring forth the sort of record that'll get the crowd stepping.

The next record starts off from what made me check my faulty AUX cord if there was a problem but apparently was part of the creativity behind mixing and mastering of the record. NO FIT VEX is produced by his day one producer from the days of his first mixtapes so when I heard call the paramedic I fastened my seatbelt. The sound is familiar if you've followed Burna Boys journey from scratch. The singer starts off with a deeply rooted chorus that flooded my speakers. holds so much meaning. Just listening, I could depict how Burna Boy painted a picture of how humans are only trying to survive in their own way. The record gives respect to difference, and zero hard feelings towards another individual's doings. The kicks in the record registered the lyrics. In summary, the song is one that upholds genuine love for the next man and natural understanding.

I could tell the Grand piano was the sole cause of the goosebumps I got when the next track came on. 23 he titled it. This record is one of the most inspirational songs on the project. The first lines, “say music make me feel i be jordan” paved the way for a lush backup that resonated around the record whispering “woro si woro” from left to right on my home theatre.

The singer delivered a soul-stirring performance laced with Yoruba lyrics “ nkan ti mo ri olorun mi o so tan” which means he has not shared half of his realities. The 10th track showcased the depth of the singer's lyrical prowess. He moves me with his style of delivery on the verse where he kept bouncing on the beat while the beat kept blaring kicks that went straight to my heart. I highlighted a part where the kicks stopped and a bridge was created. He says “Gongo aso aye a gbo”..... His lyrics fit perfectly into the instrumentals to birth another groundbreaking record from the African Giant himself.

The KAPUKA genre is undisputed and quite familiar to me from the hit single “AFRIKAN STAR” which had the Kenyan Afro-pop band team up with Burna Boy in 2018.

TIME FLIES is a feel-good tune with a plethora of melodies resonating around the record. The song preaches having a good time because time is not on our side as humans. This message is directed to a lady that Burna tells to join this ride before it's too late to create a love story. The Kenyan Afro-pop band delivers a smooth blend of melodies from their verse on the record in both their Swahili and English.

The record has the singer reaching in for his high pitched vocal range to deliver another melodious tune on the groundbreaking project.

The next record is a politically conscious song that broke down the realities of what the government has created. The song explains the “whys” and highlights the government's corrupt practices. Chris Martin does justice to the hook with his falsetto vocals that screamed pain. He is undoubtedly the perfect guest artiste for the song. The record rounds up with a sample of Ghana’s Ama Ata Aidoo narrating the realities of the encounter with the white man.

The next track cheered me up from the gloomy mood the previous track positioned my mind. It was another party starter record as the musical genius flexed his pidgin infused lyrics in a mid-tempo Afro-pop beat. WETIN DEY SUP is a song that has the singer showing his rebellious side more than usual. He warns and reinstated that if anyone tries to disrespect him and his guys it’ll end up looking ugly. It is no news Burna Boy shows this persona in real life away from the microphone so the record had me feeling like a bad guy myself.

Sean Combs ushers in the next record that created a lush mood that had the singer confessing about his inability to be fake, not for the media, not for clout, not for anybody.

REAL LIFE had the singer expressing his innermost thoughts about life and where he is from shaping who he is and has become. The UK rapper delivers a soulful hook that was surprising for me because I was expecting some hardcore bars. He does this with the theme of living our best life and being real while doing so.

I could barely hear any instrumental apart from the hand percussion that went on after the kicks came on. The singer enters a gospel-like mood on the record bringing a nostalgic memory of his 2017 hit single Hallelujah. Burna Boy uses the intro to explain how he is human and prone to make mistakes become paranoid and even confused but wraps it up begging for guidance and protection from the Lord.

BANK ON IT ushers in a hook that expresses the singer's fear of evil and his inability to trust so easily. The selected weapon? Baritone Burna please!!!

The kicks in the instrumental intertwined perfectly with the selected weapon. The Afro-pop wizard registers his baritone voice at the back of my head with every lyric sounding crystal clear as the record plays.

The last song on the project ends with back up singers adding lush harmonies to the song to give it a true Gospel feel. The reggae fusion queen Stefflon Don steps up to give the backup that added a beautiful harmony that made me almost say "God when" in the chorus. What a way to end the project or should I say a movie because I was sure I just experienced a rise to perfection from the African giant? Give him the Grammy already.

album reviews
Adelegan Adebowale
Adelegan Adebowale
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Adelegan Adebowale

Experienced Creative Writer and aspiring Music Journalist with a demonstrated history of working in the internet industry. Strong media and communication professional with a Bachelor's degree focused in English and International studies.

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