Album Review: Why I think Burna Boy – African Giant (2019) is a work of art…

As a Nigerian myself, I have grown up listening to Afrobeats and Burna Boy in particular. I’m a fan of Burna from his earlier days and the days when Afrobeats wasn’t as mainstream as it is today. From early, Burna Boy has always had a unique sound and despite his now worldwide success, he has stuck true to it. As a Nigerian myself, I have grown up listening to Afrobeats and Burna Boy in particular. His debut album L.I.F.E released in 2013 has some of my favourites from him; “Abeg, abeg (Remix)”, “Yawa Dey”, “Tonight”, “Like to Party” and “Smooth Smailing”. Most of these songs propelled Burna into the limelight but nothing has provided him with as much as his song “Yé released from his 3rd studio album.

I was excited for the release of ‘African Giant’ because I have always enjoyed Burna’s musical projects as a whole. His talent is always displayed in big bodies of work. On first listen admittedly the album did not stick out to me as quickly as his other albums did. However, after taking it in for a few days after and now weeks, I can honestly say this is his best album. For me, for a fourth album from someone who was already great to top his previous is a big big statement. In this album, you can hear his growth as an artist but also his improvement. His last album could be considered to be a mixture of all sounds but this is 100% an African album. From the beats, instruments and sounds, I felt like I was in Nigeria listening to this.

Another point to add is that this is more than just a music album. The album contains history and facts about Nigeria and Africa.

Whilst there are some American features, never did I forget I was listening to a Burna Boy project. Every song on this album has a different vibe and different feeling associated with it. Everytime you listen, a different song will stick out to you. To be able to do that with an album of 19 songs is somewhat incredible! I will talk about some of my absolute favourites from the album…

African Giant

A great intro to the album in my opinion. Burna Boy always has stand out lyrics in his songs and this song is no different. The song is an anthem for any African that has a dream for his people. It is the perfect taster for what is to come.

Stand out Line

“Because God no go give you more than you can handle”

Wetin Man Go Do

The title of this song is Pidgin English for “What will a man do”. In the song, Burna explores the idea of a man living in an African economy and the struggles he may face. The song has a very strong African feel to it. The last verse for me is sad as its obvious the man is helpless. Burna sings “Man go fight for money, man go fight for woman, man go fight for business, man go fight for nonsense (wetin man go do)…body don dey tire”. All of the struggling the man has to do is non stop. A sad reality for some people in African countries.

Stand out Line

“God I dey serve e…no go let my blessings to pass me”

Gum Body Ft. Jorja Smith

This is one of my favourite songs on the album. Similarly to his previous album, Burna Boy uses an English feature to help him on the song. Personally I’m not usually a fan of Jorja’s voice or music but the partnership with Burna in this song is perfect. The title of the song is a term used to describe wanting to be around someone. Jorja’s voice in her verse is sensational and plays on the theme of the song where they both sing “Why did I drink this Hennessy? as her voice sounds as it would, of someone who is a bit faded. I loved Jorja’s harmonies in Burna Boy’s verses, the blending of their voices without Burna Boy having to compromise his sound shows us how talented yet again he is. I have had this song on repeat since first hearing it.

Stand out Line

“Why did I drink this Hennessy?”

Killin Dem Ft. Zlatan

This is already one of the standout songs of the album and it’s not surprising. The song is performed so well by Burna Boy everytime he does a show. Zlatan’s verse in this is very underrated. His tongue twisting lyrics spoken in Yoruba with a fast flow are a joy to listen to. The dance moves associated with this song are great too.

Stand out Line

“We making money rush rush like indomie indomieee” and all of Zlatan’s verse!

Have a listen to the song and watch the video;

Omo

This song is definitely one of my ultimate favourites from the album. I love the flow and switch up Burna has in this song. His flow changes as he sings “Girl I’ve been scheming, plotting, planning…fuck a plan A, move to plan B” and switches up again after that verse. We hear singing Burna and rapping Burna in this song and it works well.

Secret Ft. Jeremih & Serani

This is the first song on the album featuring an American artist. Jeremih however adapts his voice to Serani and Burna meaning the whole sound isn’t compromised. I like this song because of that reason. The only issue I have with it is that sometimes the song can sound a bit whiny. Burna Boy’s voice does break up the high singing but sometimes I feel Serani and Jeremih were too much together on the song. Have a listen below;

Another Story Ft. M.anifest

Burna takes us on a history lesson on the colonialism of Nigeria in the first few seconds. In the song Burna Boy explains how the politicians in Nigeria are stealing from the country since Nigeria’s independence in 29160 and not doing anything to help like they should. Ghanian artist M.anifest’s verse is also similar as he talks about the fact he travels out of his country sometimes; “Sometimes I for dey move away, maybe a month, same shit, Ghana – Naija, man tire”. He is saying that even in his country he has the same issues. Similarly to “Wetin Man Go Do”, Burna is highlighting the worrying parts and unfortunate realties faced in Nigeria and many African countries.

Stand out Line

“Same shit, Ghana – Naija, man tire”

Pull Up

I like the softness of this song, Burna slows down the pace with this one and provides the album with a romantic side. He sings in the third verse “24/7 you been sitting on my mind, Baby you wey I think about like all day” emphasising the fact she is all he is thinking about”. The song gives the impression that Burna Boy wants to keep this relationship on the down low though. Further on in the verse he sings; “Loving the vibe that’s between me and you, baby don go telling no body”. He makes the affair sound as if it is sacred when really he just doesn’t want to get caught.

Destiny

This song reminds me of J Hus’ song “Spirit” with the idea that Burna is reminiscing on his childhood and the idea that his mental strength can never be taken away. Burna reminisces; “I remember when I used to hustle in the flats and the neighbors then had no love for me” probably exploring how he has risen from struggling conditions to the star he is now. The song is very positive as he basically implies that people can do many things to bring him down, but they can never take his “destiny”. This has a similar feel in J Hus’ spirit when he sings “Even when we never had a penny, yeah we always had spirit”. In the second verse of the song you can hear Burna Boy’s British accent a bit more reminding us of where he grew up but also making us realise how personal this track is. I feel Burna has done well on this album to show us where and what he has come from but also proving that this has shaped who he is today. They can take everything I have, they can take my life, they can’t touch my destiny

Stand Out Line

“They can take everything I have, they can take my life, they can’t touch my destiny”

Show & Tell Ft. Future

This was a song I really took in more with later listens. Future is usually really good on features and he did not disappoint on this track. For me it was enjoyable to hear the back and forth between both artists.

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Dave – ‘Psychodrama’ Album Review.

Released: 8th March 2019

UK rapper Dave has finally blessed us with his debut album ‘Psychodrama‘. I was excited about the release of this album as it was a long time coming and I certainly haven’t been disappointed. With albums, I feel it’s only right you take a few days or even weeks, to sit on it and take it in. In the space of a few days, my favourites have already changed, and I was hearing things and understanding meanings to songs I never picked up on before. I feel Dave is very socially aware for his age, it’s hard to believe Dave is only 20 years old with some of the content he raps about. In his intro track “Psycho” he even states “I’m a hitmaker if you ever noticed, I could be the rapper with the message like you’re hoping”; he has the ability to relate to the youth with his experiences and possibly even language and make commercial and successful songs but also relate to a more mature audience with his subject matters and hidden messages. In his song “Purple Heart” he uses clever wordplay and metaphors to describe his love for a woman. Some of the metaphors are so clever, you probably have to listen to it more than once to catch what he is saying. Someone once told me that with lyrics, everybody’s interpretation is personal to them. I feel that with Dave’s album, regardless of who you are, your age, ethnicity, gender, you will find your own unique meaning behind Dave’s lyrics.

Psycho‘ is the first song from the album and it serves similarly to a monologue. There is no main chorus and Dave just spits his thoughts into one track. For me the most important part of this song is towards the end when we hear more answers. From 2 minutes, 20 seconds, the flow changes as does Dave’s mood. Dave raps “Brother I’m a careful, humble, reckless, arrogant, extravagant, nigga, probably battlin’ with manic depression”, he openly displays his weaknesses as well as admitting his battle with depression. I like the honesty Dave exudes with his music and I feel he does this with the sole purpose of helping other people to acknowledge and speak up too. Continuing with the theme of therapy, towards the end Dave raps; “And to my fans, the reason I could get to this, you’re my drug, the instrumental, my therapist”, Dave states that it’s through music and the support he gets from it that heal him. For most people, music is a form of therapy and for Dave it is his way of letting out all his worries and fears.

Dave has 3 songs with features on this album and it’s each featured artist offers something unique to the song . The first feature we hear is the JAE5 produced song “Location” featuring Nigerian superstar Burna Boy. When I first heard this song I was sceptical about the sound from Burna as I couldn’t work out what kind of sound he was trying to portray. After sitting on it and listening to it, I now really love this song. Of course JAE5 does no wrong with this track and especially around ‘2:11’ when the beat takes a turn before Burna Boy comes in with his verse. The song has a kind of seduction to it as Burna sings for the person in question to send him “the location”. Dave raps about his “come up” but keeps his cool throughout the track with quotable and memorable lines such as “Girl from India, sweet as naani, head so good, now I speak Gujarati”.

The second featured track features UK star J Hus as he assists him on the song “Disaster”. The two have previously collaborated on Dave’s 2017 song “Samantha”. This song for me is unique because it is not a Dave track featuring J Hus, it is a collaborative effort from both of them equally. The way Hus comes into this song and plays off Dave’s verses reminds me that J Hus is an undeniable talent in the UK scene. Hus shows his versatility by singing the chorus but by also battling Dave on the rap verses. This is by far my favourite song on the album.

Dave uses his song “Environment” to expose the truth behind some ideologies. He touches on the “culture” with lines like; ” Where I’m from, everybody wants to make it out but nobody wants to see somebody make it out”. He references the music industry with lyrics such as; ” The moment that you ain’t it, the labels are looking for replacements”. Dave mentions his upbringing and social issues in songs like “Streatham”, “Black” and “Screwface Capital”. He is very open about the struggles he faced growing up “Tell me what you know about a bag full of bills and your mom crying out, saying, son, I can’t take it” (Screwface Capital). In his single “Black”, Dave talks about the social and racial inequality he faces as well as other people his race or age group may face too. (Check out my review and video review for this single on a previous post) https://musicandlifeblog.com/2019/02/24/videos-to-watch-mostack-dave-uks-finest/ .

Lesley’ is one of the sadder, emotional songs as Dave raps the story of a woman who is abused by her boyfriend Jason. The song touches on Dave’s first meeting with her to how she suffered and the dramatic conclusion to her story. Dave’s storytelling abilities have always been evident through many of his songs but this one seemed more fitting given the current “Me Too” movement. Hopefully the song helps women in that situation to walk away from toxic and abusive situations and gives them the confidence to understand their worth. ‘Drama‘ is also another emotional and personal song from Dave. The final song on the album follows the theme of the first track being a monologue without a chorus. Dave uses the song to speak to his older brother who is currently incarcerated. The track also features a snippet of his brother.

Overall, the album for me is possibly one of the best UK rap debut albums in a long time. A debut album in my opinion is supposed to let the world know who you exactly are and what you stand for. This album did all of that and more. From this album, Dave is a unique lyricist who cares about the world and wants to make a difference to the youth while also letting the older generation understand what it’s like to be him or someone like him . Dave is not scared to tell the truth and expose the falseness of ideologies. He uses his music to be real and honest. He touches on race, poverty, suicide, abuse, love, friendship, betrayal and so much more. Be prepared for intelligent wordplay, snazzy metaphors and incredible production. Hopefully this album can go to number 1 and if that is the case, it is thoroughly deserved.

I actually have tickets for the tour and I honestly cannot wait to hear and watch these songs performed live and feel the raw emotions.

Have a listen below:

New Music Friday: Invasion of Privacy

The highly anticipated debut album from woman of the moment Cardi B is finally out!!! Her debut song ‘Bodak Yellow’ was arguably one of the hits of 2017. The song allowed the world to see Cardi B in a different light, a legitimate artist, rather than just a character on the TV show “Love and Hip Hop’. This album is one of the best debut rap albums I have heard in a while. The production on each song is incredible and you can tell some real thought and effort when into the making of this album. I will focus on specific songs in due course and I always believe albums should take time to marinate in your ears for at least a week before you can choose the real hits. However, on first listen these are my quick opinions.

  1. Get up 10 (Intro) . This is such a great introduction to the album and reminds me of the infamous introduction on Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nighmares’ album. Favourite line: “I was covered in dollars, now I’m drippin’ in jewels”, pretty much sums up Cardi as a whole.
  2. Drip Ft. Migos. Typical Migos song meaning very hyped and very catchy, Cardi’s verse was good. Only issue is that Cardi was drowned out on her own song. Migos definitely overtook it. Favourite line would have to be every adlib when “Ice” is mentioned.
  3.  Bickenhead. Pure rap. This song really demonstrates Cardi’s rap ability. The song will definitely have you bopping your head. Favourite line: I’ma flex like a ‘roid, I’m a ten, she a ‘droid”
  4. Bodak Yellow. Classic. The song that started it all and it is yet to get old. Favourite line: These expensive, these is red bottoms, these is bloody shoes”….classic!
  5. Be Careful. This song was released a few days earlier and while many were not expected this direction from Cardi, I welcome the refreshment. Only wish is that a singer such as Dej Loaf was the one singing the chorus. It is nice to see Cardi in a more vulnerable light though and it reminds us that she is human and can be be versatile. Favourite lines: “Thinkin’ I’m flawed because you inconsistent…
    It’s gon’ hurt me to hate you, but lovin’ you’s worse”.
  6. Best Life Ft. Chance the Rapper. One of my favourites on the album. I love the sentiment behind it. Chance as usual adds his own unique signature to it. Favourite line: “I made a couple M’s with my best friends, turned all my L’s into lessons”
  7.  I like it Ft. Bad Bunny & J Balvin . If you are a fan of Reggaeton or latina music, this song will definitely win your hearts. You cannot listen to this song without feeling like you want to salsa or cha-cha! Favourite line: Oh he’s so handsome, what’s his name”. Full review coming soon.
  8. Ring Ft. Kehlani. This song is enough to get anyone in their feels. Kehlani’s beautiful voice provides the song with a R&B feel. Favourite line: “You gon’ be sick to your, stomach” (more the tone change at that part but will provide a more detailed review in due course)
  9. Money Bag. Possibly my least favourite on the album because the song sounds extremely similar to ‘Bodak Yellow’ in terms of the flow. This song does have one of my favourite lines though; “I said “Bae, it’s a snack,” he said it’s a entrée”. Haha
  10. Bartier Cardi Ft. 21 Savage. This song was released as the second single on this album (after Bodak Yellow). The flow on this demonstrates her ability and I believe 21 Savage compliments the vibe of this song so well. Favourite line: I like hot sauce on my chicken”
  11. She Bad Ft. YG. I almost didn’t even recognise YG on this song! He sounds very different but I do like this song. Favourite line: I could buy designer but this Fashion Nova fit”
  12.  I Do Ft. SZA. A very fitting end to the album andI can’t think of anyone else who would do this song justice other than SZA. Favourite line:  My little 15 minutes lasted long as hell, huh”