Africa’s music is on the rise again on the global stage with Afrobeats.
The genre is driving a youthful narrative for African creatives while getting the attention of heavyweight music icons and labels world over. It remains to be seen where the goal shifting heads this year but crucial albums are expected of the genre’s headline acts and should they deliver, another win and phase inevitable.
Burna Boy, Afrobeats most prominent poster dropped his much anticipated Twice As Tall album at midnight and I gave it a listen as I couldn’t sleep. I penned a few thoughts after the first listen.
Here we go…
Great opening tracks in Level Up and Alarm Clock.
TWICE AS TALL sounding a bit more polished sonically than African Giant. More of elevating the Afrobeats sound? An extensive taste palette for sonics, TWICE AST ALL extends beyond the Afrobeats circuit. It would want engagement with new demographics as well. Poignant themes relating to the Black Struggle, Life, Politics, Motivation and more, the soundtrack is Afro-fusion at its best.
On the project’s collaborations, the featuring acts delivered as expected. Youssou N’dour blessed the album’s opening while Naughty By Nature flossed out their self titled track. However, the stellar appearances belonged to Sauti Sol & Chris Martin (Coldplay) on Time Flies and Monsters You Made.
TWICE AS TALL is a bit polished sonically to be referred to as a through and through Afrobeats album. Fans expecting another African Giant album won’t get it but the expansive sonics is the plan so it relates to more demographics – an ambitious move forewarned in recent collaborations prior to the album. Is there the noticeable sacrifice of content for production on TWICE AS TALL? Then Burna answers with his most aggressive tackle of the Black Struggle on “Monsters You Made”. Nothing on African Giant addresses this theme better.
Then again Burna drops many life jewels on TWICE AS TALL but they are spread across the album than concentrated into specific tracks.
NoFitVex, Wettin Dey Sup and RealLife are heavy in this regard. The listener wonders the need for Diddy’s commentary across the album but that’s another power move to gain a specific audience – a sacrifice is needed for certain doors that need opening. The project could have done without Diddy’s commentary of course.
By the way, Burna speaks a lot to his critics and haters on this project. He addressed Sho Majozi’s allegations on “Real Life”. Interestingly, it is the same record that features Stormzy. Stormzy provides a mellow contribution with his feature on the record. Nevertheless, the best sequencing on TWICE AST ALL is from track 10 till the album ends where you will find the project’s standout tracks: Monsters You Made, Time Flies and RealLife.
TWICE AS TALL is Burna taking his destiny in his own hands as he attempts getting the attention of the Grammy academy with an eclectic album. He is catering to a bigger audience and pushing the envelopes beyond the Afrobeats tag. He wants to be heard & noticed as doing it his way.
Written by Paul Azumah-Ayitey