„Twice As Tall“ (2020) is Burna Boy’s fifth album, and the third one to be marketed to international audiences. Whereas „Outside“ (2018) was a respectable kick-off, „African Giant“ (2019) managed to fulfill the claim of its title with a Grammy nomination, Coachella performance and large popularity among critics and fans, both within Nigeria and abroad. It is thus no surprise that „Twice As Tall“ offers plenty of continuities. Burna develops his vision of „Afro-Fusion“ sound further, once more rather hinting at common Afrobeats ingredients ubiquitous among other Nigerian pop artists. Whenever they appear, they’re contrasted with the unexpected: The percussions on „Way Too Big“ follow the typical son clave rhythm before they are taken apart by a progressive rock-ish synth solo reminiscent of different times. The shaku-shaku vibes on „Bebop“ and „Comma“ get lost in a mellow atmosphere suitable for times of a global pandemic, in which the memories of dancing in nightclubs fade steadily. However, there are true sonic surprises: “Time Flies” with the Kenyans Sauti Sol builds (as Oris Aigbokhaevbolo noted) on the strongly syncopated rhythm of Sade’s “Sweetest Taboo” and thus stands out most clearly from the otherwise straightforward album, but is closely followed by the previously released “Wonderful”. Reminiscing Isicathamiya in the vocals and more recent South African styles in the production, he musically underlines his previously expressed claims of representation beyond the borders of Nigeria.
Openly opposed to the Afrobeats tag for a while now, Burna Boy deliberately keeps distance to sonic trends that come and go by the minute. As he regular proves with social media posts, he’s been seeing himself in a whole different league for a long time anyway. Thus it’s consistent that after borrowing words from Angelique Kidjo and featuring her on its predecessor, the album opens with a feature of Youssou N’Dour, symbolizing his continued claim for a place within the hall of fame of African Musicians. And while self-aggrandizing is a substantial part of the album’s lyrics, he dares to reflect about not winning the Grammy right in the opening (ironically, he lost to Kidjo). Coldplay’s Chris Martin is no less of a heavy-weight and contributes the chorus to ‘Monsters you made’ the most obviously conscious song on the album, in which Burna schools his audience about colonial continuities like he did on other occasions before, but this time with much more emotional weight than on „Another Story“ from „African Giant“. Furthermore, the album features not one but two bedrocks of US hip-hop: New Jersey based duo Naughty by Nature joins Burna on their own self-titled tribute song. Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs on the other hand is co-credited with executive production of the whole album and decorates it with occasional ad-libs.
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