By Kola Muhammed
According to streaming platform, Spotify, Burna Boy’s latest album, ‘Twice as Tall’ is the most streamed album this year with over 40 million streams as of 26th September, 2020.
The nearest challenger to it is Tiwa Savage’s fourth discography, ‘Celia’ with over 10 million streams. And that is some distance, with Adekunle Gold’s ‘Afro Pop Vol. 1,’ Fireboy’s ‘Apollo’ and Patoranking’s Three making up the top 5 with a combined 12.1 million streams.
‘Twice as Tall’ dominating charts across the globe will come as good news for Burna Boy as the singer obviously aims to have another crack at the Grammys given that he was beaten to the gong last time round.
But does he really stand a chance this time?
Right from the choice of executive producer, it is apparent that this is not just an album for the culture or music lovers, but also a statement, for the decision makers at Recording Academy. It was an intentional move to enlist three-time Grammy award winner and music veteran, Puff Daniel. By his reputation, he understands the terrain blazing Burna wants to tread.
From the list of featured artistes and music groups, there is Coldplay, the popular British band who have won no less than 7 Grammy awards from 29 nominations. The lead singer of Coldplay is Chris Martin. There is also Naughty by Nature, an American group with Grammy success.
Stormzy is the only foreign artiste without Grammy success and one could say he gives the desired foreign diversity to ‘Twice as Tall’ being a top rated British performer. Many of the opinion that Grammy is only a matter of time for him too.
The inclusion of legendary Senegalese singer, Youssou N’dour and Kenyan Afro-pop band, Sauti Sol, on the album help to underpin the Afrobeats genre that Burna champions. Afrobeats is arguably the most intriguing genre in international music right now and this explains why more African artistes are getting in the global limelight.
Notably, no Nigerian artiste featured on the album. By looking at the streaming numbers, only a handful of artistes could match the pace at which Burna is moving. Strategically, you see the symbolic four cardinal points – Nigeria/Afrobeats (Burna Boy), Africa/Afrobeats (Youssou N’Dour and Sauti Sol), Britain (Stormzy) and United States (Diddy, Coldplay and Naughty by Nature) which can be said to be the defining ingredients of ‘World Music’.
#BlackLivesMatter was the subject of global discussion in August when the album was released and Burna Boy capitalises on this in his 15-track album.
In the opening track, ‘Level up (Twice as Tall)’, Port Harcourt-born Burna relates his experience of coming short. Tracks such as ‘Monsters you made’ and ‘Time flies’ embody activism and the timeless fight by Blacks against racism and marginalisation. The voice of renowned Ghanaian writer and former education minister, Ama Ata Aidoo, can be heard at the end of ‘Monsters you made’ track as well as that of Burna’s mother, Bose Ogulu, on ‘Time flies’, for the sake of emphasis.
From the transition of the songs to the fusion of Afro-pop and the diversity of ‘Twice as tall’, the impact of Diddy’s supervision is perhaps inescapable on the album.
The Port Harcourt-born artiste impressed many with wit, depth and versatility on the album. From allusive phrases such as Onyeka Onwenu, Muri Thunder, Gongo Aso, Woro si woro and Comma, music enthusiasts lauded on social media how he found a way to bring the Nigerian society to constitute music.
With Puff Daniel lending his voice to the album coupled with the choice of featured artistes and thematic issues, every move on the album impresses as a blend of strategy and musical dexterity.
That strategy is what some critics felt the ‘African Giant’ album lacked and with that aspect seemingly sorted now, ‘Twice as tall’ might just be enough to get him over the finish line.