Despite the bad name Nigeria has in the international sphere, it’s greatest export, music, continues to thrive. In recent years, the three giants of Nigerian music have set, broken, and reset new standards. Burna who bulldozed his way into the conversation evidenced by his recent successes and undisputed greatness continues to chase higher. The man and his art are like two different universes, he never seems to get out of wahala. Guilty or not, he never seems free from the shackles of controversy. His art is another conversation, consistently raising the bar with his soul-filled performances and releases.
Before we Kwantinu, I get one small confession to make. Burna is my personal favorite but I promise to be as objective as possible, amen. Oh and I’d try to keep it as simple as possible. Wink wink
Love, DAMINI bears some sense of semblance to African Giant which he filled to the brim with jams and gbedu. The differences are also loud, the very little presence of socio-political consciousness screams loudest. This is more of Burna’s heartfelt outpouring for our entertainment. As burna opens himself up, he realizes the greatness of his present level, and the infusion of whiskey seems borne out of doing sake. The album gives off the aura of a letter of confession and expression. Burna reflects his emotions and hold nothing back. His vulnerability defined by fluctuating emotions is glaringly evident. He journeys through heartbreak, cynicism and unbridled vulgarity. He opens up from the jungles of Africa with Glory . It begins with deep locale sounds that arouse nostalgia with its gospel accents, something I have come to dislike over the years. The whole deep “this is African thing” plays too well into the continent’s perception. Whether this addition is positioning for another Grammy only DAMINI knows.
From here onwards it’s a flurry of emotions from track to track ranging from love to Lust as well as familiar tunes and movements. Jagele‘s obsession is enhanced by the rhythmic saxophone burst, the usual war with the unnamed evil in Cloak & Dagger, and this time he calls for re-enforcement from British rapper J Hus. Kilometer re-echoes the same sentiment but in its case places emphasis on Burna. His fury makes almost cameo appearances however It thrives underneath that self-appraisal. Loverboy returns in the Gbonaish Jagele, the easy-going tempo, trumpets, and percussion sequences are unmissable too. This is not strange considering Kel P was responsible for both tracks. Whiskey brings to the fore the sufferings of Porthartcourt natives. He highlights the environmental pollution that has dealt heavy blows to the people of the coastal areas. On to Last Last here. It’s important to note the mini arrangement that happens here. Last Last describes a process of hot international breakfast however, on Different Size, Burna switches completely to the streets admiring different sizes. Victony who seems to have had recent successes from singing about backsides helps to convince Burna whether na “God given” or surgery it’s just different sizes. The squid game tune really determines whether or not the song is enjoyable.
The pop culture influence in this album is also very evident washing down from the previous album. The presence of Ed Sheeran and Khalid as well as the mimicking of Avicii’s song seems to be very deliberate moves. Rollercoaster is an absolute Jam, whether because of the efecto Espanol or the post-chorus ad-libs or the sentimental tones used by Burna and Balvin or the southern American feel. whatever the reason, this was a beautiful delivery. “I be common person but my happiness o still be my own o” defines the soul-filled, slow Highlife common person. Deriving inspiration from the gospel sphere, the weighty song common person carries the heaviest self-reflective message. The instrumental solos that come in intermittently brought to mind the heavy presence of the saxophone throughout the track which seemed to give it life.
He rounds off by taking us back to the jungle with deep harmonies and Love DAMINI. The album obviously lacks that political punch that Burna has made his identity, but neither does it reduce in quality. It’s like a well-cooked meal just lacking something we are usually used to. The album also portrays the weakness of the “African giant”- unpredictability and excessive repetition, especially with self-appraisal. The signs of detailed musical and production arrangements are glaringly obvious but also obvious is the absence of coordination in thought and perceived meanings.
Perhaps this was deliberate or maybe it wasn’t we’d never know.
That’s it for this review. Until next time, bye!