‘African Giant’ Is Burna Boy’s Gamble to Complete His Global Crossover

Burna Boy (along with Wizkid) has been at the forefront of the afrobeats movement for years now. On his fourth studio album, Burna Boy completes his world domination with a globe-trotting soundscape that features his most commercial and expansive music yet. On African Giant, Burna stands tall over an album that covers everything from R&B and rap to afrobeats and reggae.

Album artwork for African Giant via Apple Music.

African Giant is tailor-made for the final hazy weeks of summer. Burna’s silky voice is the star of nearly every track. His rich and colorful vocal performance anchors the album in the face of all the different genre influences and featured artists. Burna slows things down on the relentlessly sexy “Secret,” a collaboration with Jeremih and Serani where Burna croons that he’ll “smack your booty and choke ya.” That R&B joint is complemented by a muted love song with Jorja Smith by the name of “Gum Body.” Burna’s trip to the Caribbean for a quick reggae track with Damian Marley pays off; the song is a banger and it doesn’t feel exploitative. On the other hand, Burna’s experimentation with rap fares a bit differently. He easily outshines Future on the wholly forgettable “Show & Tell,” and YG’s verse on “This Side” is easily one of the worst rap verses of the year so far. While Burna adapts well to the 808s and trap music influences, the rappers that he chose add nothing to the songs. On his solo tracks, unsurprisingly, Burna shines. In particular, “Gbona” and “Pull Up” are standouts and “Wetin Man Go” is absolutely excellent. Burna’s nuanced use of Fela Kuti-inspired horns and jazz in contrast with his careful implementation of Auto-Tune results in a worthy listening experience.

Finally, Burna knows the power of his voice. He sings about the unjust power of fear over people’s lives on “Collateral Damage” with overwhelming emotional. The overarching message of African Giant is the sprawling influence of Africa across the world and across music. Burna functions as a sort of global ambassador on this album, and everything works. This is one of the best of the year.

P.S. African Giant is great but “JA ARA E” is perfect.

Key Tracks: “Omo”; “Secret”; “Anybody”; “Wetin Man Go”

Score: 80


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