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African Giant is the fourth studio album by Nigerian singer Burna Boy. It was released on July 26, 2019, by Spaceship Entertainment, Bad Habit, Atlantic Records and Warner Music.[1] The album was primarily produced by Kel P, along with production from P2J, Benjamin Zill, Mr Kleb, DJDS, GMK, Chopstix, TMXO, Dre Skull, Skrillex, Levi Lennox and IO. It features guest appearances from Zlatan Ibile, Jorja Smith, Jeremih, Serani, M.anifest, Damian Marley, Angelique Kidjo, Future and YG.[2] African Giant was supported by six singles: "Gbona", "On the Low", Killin Dem", "Dangote", "Anybody" and "Pull Up".

African Giant
Burna Boy - African Giant.png
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 26, 2019 (2019-07-26)
Recorded2018–2019
GenreAfro-fusion
Length60:00
Label
Producer
Burna Boy chronology
Steel & Copper
(2019)
African Giant
(2019)
Singles from African Giant
  1. "Gbona"
    Released: September 27, 2018
  2. "On the Low"
    Released: November 16, 2018
  3. "Killin Dem"
    Released: January 3, 2019
  4. "Dangote"
    Released: March 1, 2019
  5. "Anybody"
    Released: June 14, 2019
  6. "Pull Up"
    Released: July 22, 2019

Background and promotionEdit

Burna Boy began recording African Giant in 2018. He told Billboard magazine that the album is his most personal yet and would touch upon themes of Nigeria's political climate and violence in the region.[1] The album was primarily produced by Kel P, along with production from P2J, Benjamin Zill, Mr Kleb, DJDS, GMK, Chopstix, TMXO, Dre Skull, Skrillex, Levi Lennox and IO. It features guest appearances from Zlatan Ibile, Jorja Smith, Jeremih, Serani, M.anifest, Damian Marley, Angelique Kidjo, Future and YG.[2]

African Giant was mixed in Los Angeles and London by Jesse Ray Ernster, a mixing engineer known for his collaboration with Kanye West. Ernster was introduced to Burna Boy in 2018, during a trip to Uganda where Ernster was engineering with Kanye West. Ernster returned to America and signed with a new manager, coincidentally the same team managed Burna Boy as well. Mixing began in LA, before Ernster flew out to London to finish the mixing process with Burna Boy. Over the course of a few days the pair worked on engineering the album.[3]

The album's title was derived from Burna Boy's infamous outburst at Coachella organizers regarding the placement of his name in a small font.[4] Burna Boy first revealed plans to release the album in April 2019, and held a private listening session in Los Angeles.[5] Photos and videos from the listening session were shared on social media. African Giant was initially announced as a 16-track album.[5] In July 2019, Burna Boy was announced as Apple Music's Up Next artist. His inclusion into the program was accompanied by a Beats 1 interview with Julie Adenuga and a short documentary.[6] On July 10, 2019, Burna Boy unveiled the album's artwork and release date. It was inspired by Nigeria's first 10 naira note, which features Nigerian educationist Alvan Ikoku.[2] The album's artwork also contains other symbolic elements, including serial style numbers representing his date of birth, images of him as a baby with his father and grandfather, and a stack of gold coins suggesting a single African currency backed by gold.[7] In order to promote the album, Burna Boy will headline the African Giant Returns tour, the second leg of his African Giant tour.[8]

CompositionEdit

In the album's opener and title track "African Giant", Burna Boy portrays himself as the poster boy in the fight against oppression.[9] The track "Wetin Man Go Do" addresses Nigeria's inner-city struggles.[9] "Dangote" is composed of Fela-jazz horns and African-inflected dancehall; the song's lyrics stress the importance for ordinary people to hustle.[10] "Collateral Damage", a song about the corruption within Africa, features a guitar-assisted instrumental. The politically-charged track "Another Story" narrates the corruption of British colonization.[11] The love ballad "Gum Body" fuses Afrobeats and R&B. The dancehall and reggae-infused "Omo" interpolates I Wayne's "Can't Satisfy Her"; the track has been described as "a love letter to his girlfriend Stefflon Don".[11][7] In "On the Low", Burna Boy talks about a secret affair that he wants to turn into a lifelong commitment.[12] In the album's closing track "Spiritual", Burna Boy samples his mother's acceptance speech at the 2019 BET Awards.[13]

SinglesEdit

"Gbona" (Yoruba: Hot) was released as the album's lead single on September 27, 2018. Produced by Kel P, the song is a fusion of Afrobeats and reggae.[14] The Clarence Peters-directed music video for "Gbona" features Kalukata-influenced female dancers.[15] "Gbona" was recorded in Nigerian pidgin, Yoruba and Igbo.[14] In a review for Pan African Music, Wale Owoade praised the song's production and said it "thrives on the harmonious fusion of a static sound of the past with an infectious dance vibe from the present".[16]

The album's second single "On the Low" was released on November 16, 2018. It is a fusion of Afrobeats and dancehall.[17] "On the Low" was produced by Kel P and has been described as a mid-tempo love song. The accompanying music video for "On the Low" was shot and directed by Meji Alabi.[18] Lindsay Howard of Variance magazine said the song is "instantly reminiscent of long days and hot nights".[19]

The Zlatan-assisted "Killin Dem" was released as the album's third single on January 3, 2019. Also produced by Kel P, "Killin Dem" is a blend of Burna Boy's Afro-fusion and Zlatan's cock-sure rap bars.[20] The Prodigeezy-directed music video for "Killin Dem" incorporates clips from a Zubby Michael Nollywood film and features a mixture of Zanku dance styles.[21]

"Dangote" was released as the album's fourth single on March 1, 2019. The Kel P-produced track was recorded in Yoruba, Nigerian pidgin and English.[22] The song is named after Africa's richest man Aliko Dangote, and is an angry indictment of poverty in Nigeria.[23] The music video for "Dangote" was shot and directed by Clarence Peters; it depicts the desperation of the poor and their oppression.[23] In the video, viewers can see an unlicensed pharmacist selling drugs in a public vehicle, and a preacher passing around a plate for donations. The New Afrika Shrine is also depicted in the video.[23]

The album's fifth single "Anybody" was released on June 14, 2019. It contains a sample of Angelique Kidjo's "We We". A music video directed by Clarence Peters accompanied the song's release. The video features various neon hues and dancers in numerous wardrobes.[24] Pitchfork writer Alphonse Pierre praised the song's melody and said Burna Boy's best attribute is his vocal versatility.[25] As part of Apple Music's Up Next programming, Burna Boy performed "Anybody" on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.[26]

The album's sixth single "Pull Up" was released on July 22, 2019. Burna Boy premiered the song on Zane Lowe's Beats 1 radio show. The Kel P-produced track is composed of scattered strings and percussion. Musically, "Pull Up" contains lyrics pertaining to a man's interest in a girl he cannot stop thinking about.[27] On August 21, 2019, Burna Boy released the Meji Alabi-directed visuals for "Pull Up".[28] In the video, he displays his vintage aesthetic fashion style.[29]

Other releasesEdit

On September 10, 2019, Burna Boy released the music video for "Gum Body", a duet with British singer Jorja Smith.[30] The song's instrumental is composed of percussion and sensual jazz sax.[31] In the Meji Alabi-directed visuals, the duo are placed in different rooms in an unlit apartment before coming together to dance near a window.[31]

On September 30, 2019, Burna Boy released the music video for the M.anifest-assisted "Another Story".[32] The song was released a day before Nigeria's independence day and recounts the events surrounding the country's freedom from British rule.[33] In the video, children are wearing blindfolds with the words "corruption", "violence" and "greed" written across them.[33] Another scene in the video depicts children raising weapons and a crowd destroying a burning car.[32]

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic80/100[34]
Review scores
SourceRating
Pulse Nigeria9.1/10[9]
Pitchfork8.3/10[35]
Clash7/10[36]
Earmilk     [37]
The Guardian     [10]
The Face     [38]
NME     [11]

African Giant received positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 80, based on 6 reviews.[34] Reviewing for Pitchfork, Sheldon Pearce granted the record an 8.3/10 rating, and stated that it is "more cohesive, more robust in sound, and significantly broader than his previous music".[35] Spin's Israel Daramola commended Burna Boy for not diluting his sound in order to cross into the mainstream.[39] Kyann-Sian Williams of NME awarded the album 4 stars out of 5, applauding Burna Boy for "using his profile to raise awareness for a better Africa".[11] Earmilk's Vicky Inoyo granted the album 4.5 stars out of 5, commending him for fusing "signature Afrobeat, dancehall, pop, and hip hop sounds all on one album".[37]

Kitty Empire of The Guardian rated the album 4 stars out of 5, writing that it is a continuation of "the singer’s boundary-hopping mixture of laid-back Caribbean swagger, Fela Kuti swing and multilingual communiques on a range of concerns".[10] Also reviewing for The Guardian, Ben Beaumont-Thomas stated that the "retro Afro-pop production can get generic though, when repeated across 19 tracks".[40] Moreover, Beaumont-Thomas opined that Burna Boy's "sensual, even rather muted music, may make it hard for him to cut through the noise of western pop culture".[40] Writing for The Fader magazine, Joey Akan said African Giant is "Nigeria’s biggest homegrown effort with a solid measure of local ownership and a narrative that isn't sacrificed or weakened as a prerequisite for global appeal."[7] In Clash, Narzra Ahmed granted the album 7 stars out of 10, describing it as "a cohesive piece of work".[36]

Jochan Embley of the Evening Standard felt the album would be Burna Boy's best work yet if it was more "concise".[41] The Atlantic writer Hannah Giorgis stated that African Giant is "musically diverse and narratively challenging".[13] Giorgis also said the album "incorporates a potent emphasis on national record-keeping while maintaining the sultry, atmospheric quality that Burna's early records established".[13] August Brown of The Los Angeles Times wrote that the album "never dilutes its sound to cater to Anglo audiences, or even to the hip-hop and R&B scenes that are dabbling in Afro-pop right now."[42] The Face's Summer Eldemire gave the album 4 stars out of 5, stating that it feels "political–like a blueprint of Burna's plan to enable Africans to access their own power and uplift the continent."[38] In a review for The Washington Post, Chris Richards stated that on African Giant, Burna Boy's "phrasing always feels fleet, creating a sound that’s incredibly dense and impossibly dainty".[12] Richards also opined that Burna Boy uses his voice to "give his heaviest lyrics a sense of levity and optimism".[12]

Motolani Alake of Pulse Nigeria assigned a rating of 9.1 out of 10, praising the album's emotive undertone and stating that there is "a uniform sonic approach to all the beats".[9] Alake also said the album is the "perfection of the journey that Outside pioneered".[9] A writer for Filter Free Nigeria said Burna Boy "drew on the positives from Outside while honing" African Giant.[43] The writer also added that the "production aligns perfectly to his Afrocentric posture of superiority as it even emboldens even the foreign artistes to ride his wave".[43] In a review for This Day newspaper, Iyke Bede stated that the album "manages to chronicle a narrative of identity, ambition, activism and love".[44] In contrast, Bede also noted that African Giant "certainly isn't aptly titled to reflect Burna's rightful place alongside the galaxy of music stars (King Sunny Adé, Osita Osadebe) that have emerged from the black continent".[44]

Track listingEdit

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."African Giant"Damini Ogulu
  • Kel P
  • Benjamin Zill
3:04
2."Anybody"OguluP2J3:08
3."Wetin Man Go Do"OguluKel P3:08
4."Dangote"OguluKel P3:45
5."Gum Body" (featuring Jorja Smith)
  • Ogulu
  • Jorja Smith
Benjamin Zill3:15
6."Killin Dem" (featuring Zlatan)
  • Ogulu
  • Omoniyi Raphael
Kel P3:41
7."Omo"OguluMr Kleb2:27
8."Secret" (featuring Jeremih and Serani)
  • Ogulu
  • Jeremy Felton
  • Craig Marsh
 3:23
9."Collateral Damage"OguluKel P3:17
10."Another Story" (featuring M.anifest)
  • Ogulu
  • Kwame Tsikata
Kel P4:16
11."Pull Up"OguluKel P3:07
12."Blak Ryno (Skit)"1:06
13."Destiny"OguluDJDS3:17
14."Different" (featuring Damian Marley and Angélique Kidjo)
  • Ogulu
  • Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley
  • Angélique Kidjo
  • GMK
  • Chopstix
  • TMXO
3:16
15."Gbona"OguluKel P3:07
16."On the Low"OguluKel P3:05
17."Show & Tell" (featuring Future)
  • Ogulu
  • Nayvadius Wilburn
2:42
18."This Side" (featuring YG)
  • Ogulu
  • Keenon Jackson
  • Levi Lennox
  • IO
3:22
19."Spiritual"OguluKel P3:41
Total length:60:00
Notes
  • "—" denotes intro and skit
  • "Anybody" contains a sample of Angelique Kidjo's "We We".
  • "Omo" interpolates I Wayne's "Can't Satisfy Her"

PersonnelEdit

  • Damini Ogulu – primary artist, writer
  • Omoniyi Raphael – featured artist, writer
  • Jorja Alice Smith – featured artist, writer
  • Jeremy P. Felton – featured artist, writer
  • Craig Serani Marsh – featured artist, writer
  • Kwame Ametepee Tsikata – featured artist, writer
  • Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley – featured artist, writer
  • Angelique Kidjo – featured artist, writer
  • Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn – featured artist, writer
  • Keenon Jackson – featured artist, writer
  • Kel P – production (tracks 1, 3, 4, 6, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 19)
  • Peter Jay – production (track 2)
  • Benjamin Zill – production (tracks 1, 5)
  • Mr Kleb – production (track 7)
  • DJDS – production (track 13)
  • GMK – production (track 14)
  • Chopstix – production (track 14)
  • TMXO – production (track 14)
  • Dre Skull – production (track 17)
  • Skrillex – production (track 17)
  • Levi Lennox – production (track 18)
  • IO – production (track 18)
  • Jesse Ray Ernster – mixing

ChartsEdit

Chart (2019) Peak
position
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[45] 58
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[46] 98
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[47] 33
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[48] 12
French Albums (SNEP)[49] 54
Irish Albums (IRMA)[50] 80
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[51] 64
UK Albums (OCC)[52] 16
US Billboard 200[53] 104

Release historyEdit

Region Date Format Label
Various July 26, 2019

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Nick Duerden (July 19, 2019). "How Burna Boy Became Nigeria's Surprise Success Story". Billboard. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Motolani Alake (July 26, 2019). "Burna Boy releases his album, 'African Giant'". Pulse Nigeria. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  3. ^ Donna-Claire Chesman (August 22, 2019). "Meet the Man Who Expertly Mixed Burna Boy's 'African Giant': Interview". DJ Booth. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  4. ^ Hannah Giorgis (July 26, 2019). "The 'African Giant' Challenging Musical Boundaries". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Odion Okonofua (April 17, 2019). "Pulse Exclusive: Burna Boy set to drop new album 'African Giant'". Pulse Nigeria. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  6. ^ Kam Tambini (July 9, 2019). "Burna Boy Is Apple Music's New 'Up Next' Artist". OkayAfrica. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Joey Akan (July 19, 2019). "With African Giant, Burna Boy's crossover is complete". The Fader. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  8. ^ "Burna Boy Announces 'The African Giant Returns Tour'". OkayAfrica. June 17, 2019. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d e Motolani Alake (July 29, 2019). "Album Review: 'African Giant' is the creative alignment of Burna Boy's journey". Pulse Nigeria. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c Kitty Empire (July 28, 2019). "Burna Boy: African Giant review – Caribbean swagger and Fela swing". The Guardian. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  11. ^ a b c d Kyann-Sian Williams (July 29, 2019). "Burna Boy – 'African Giant' review". NME. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  12. ^ a b c Chris Richards (September 6, 2019). "Burna Boy is an 'African Giant' with a sound that defies geography". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  13. ^ a b c Hannah Giorgis (July 26, 2019). "The 'African Giant' Challenging Musical Boundaries". The Atlantic. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  14. ^ a b Tomiwa (September 25, 2018). "Burna Boy – "Gbona"". TooXclusive. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  15. ^ Wandera Hussien (September 27, 2018). "Burna Boy drops "Gbona" music video". The Fader. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  16. ^ Wale Owoade (October 22, 2018). "Best of the Moment: 'Gbona' by Burna Boy". Pan African Music. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  17. ^ Tomiwa (November 15, 2018). "Burna Boy – "On The Low"". TooXclusive. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  18. ^ "New video: Burna Boy – On The Low". Pan African Music. November 19, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  19. ^ Lindsay Howard (November 16, 2018). "Summer is back thanks to Burna Boy's new song 'On the Low'". Variance. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  20. ^ Debola Abimbolu (January 25, 2019). "SEE THE MUSIC VIDEO FOR BURNA BOY AND ZLATAN'S "KILLIN DEM"". Native Magazine. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  21. ^ Kam Tambini (January 25, 2019). "Watch Zlatan & Burna Boy's New Music Video For 'Killin Dem'". OkayAfrica. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  22. ^ "Burna Boy unveils emotional music video 'Dangote'". Pan African Music. March 5, 2019. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
  23. ^ a b c Joey Akan (March 7, 2019). "Dangote Isn't Nigeria's Hero, But Don't Ask Burna Boy". OkayAfrica. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
  24. ^ Isaac Rouse (June 14, 2019). "Burna Boy Drops Visuals for New Single 'Anybody'". Hypebeast. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  25. ^ Alphonse Pierre (June 14, 2019). "The Ones: Burna Boy's "Anybody"". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  26. ^ Emily Zemler (July 24, 2019). "Watch Burna Boy Bring the Vibes With 'Anybody' on 'Kimmel'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  27. ^ Damola Durosomo (July 22, 2019). "Listen to Burna Boy's New Single 'Pull Up'". OkayAfrica. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  28. ^ Michael Saponara (August 21, 2019). "Burna Boy Cruises Through the City in Colorful 'Pull Up' Video: Watch". Billboard. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  29. ^ Rachel Hahn (August 21, 2019). "Burna Boy Proves He's Nigeria's Most Stylish Musician in His New Video". Vogue. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  30. ^ James Keith (September 11, 2019). "Burna Boy And Jorja Smith Return With Video For Sultry New Collaboration "Gum Body"". Complex. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  31. ^ a b "Video: Burna Boy – "Gum Body" (ft. Jorja Smith)". Spin. September 10, 2019. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  32. ^ a b Elias Leight (September 30, 2019). "Burna Boy Commemorates Nigerian Independence in 'Another Story' Video". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  33. ^ a b Aisha Salaudeen (October 1, 2019). "Burna Boy reflects on Nigeria's independence with his new music video 'Another Story'". CNN. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  34. ^ a b "African Giant by Burna Boy". Metacritic. July 26, 2019. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  35. ^ a b Sheldon Pearce (August 1, 2019). "Burna Boy African Giant". Pitchfork. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  36. ^ a b Narzra Ahmed (July 26, 2019). "Burna Boy - African Giant". Clash. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  37. ^ a b Vicky Inoyo. "Album Review: Burna Boy - African Giant". Earmilk. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  38. ^ a b Summer Eldemire (July 30, 2019). "Burna Boy shines with star power on 'African Giant'". The Face. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  39. ^ Israel Daramola (July 31, 2019). "Burna Boy's Dazzling African Giant Is One of the Year's Best Albums So Far". Spin. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  40. ^ a b Ben Beaumont-Thomas (July 26, 2019). "Burna Boy: African Giant review – classily smooth Nigerian pop". The Guardian. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  41. ^ Jochan Embley (July 26, 2019). "Burna Boy - African Giant review: Overlong album has moments of greatness". Evening Standard. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  42. ^ August Brown (August 30, 2019). "Review: Burna Boy celebrates L.A.'s African diaspora at star-making Wiltern show". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  43. ^ a b ""AFRICAN GIANT" IS BURNA BOY'S STAMP OF AUTHORITY ON AFROBEATS". Filter Free Nigeria. July 28, 2019. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  44. ^ a b Iyke Bede (August 2, 2019). "Nigeria: Burna Boy's African Giant Is Good Work but Is the Title Befitting?". allAfrica. This Day. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
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  46. ^ "Ultratop.be – Burna Boy – African Giant" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  47. ^ "Billboard Canadian Albums: August 10, 2019". Billboard. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  48. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Burna Boy – African Giant" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  49. ^ "Le Top de la semaine : Top Albums Fusionnes – SNEP (Week 31, 2019)" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  50. ^ "Irish Albums Chart: 2 August 2019". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  51. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Burna Boy – African Giant". Hung Medien. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  52. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  53. ^ "Billboard 200: August 10, 2019". Billboard. Retrieved August 7, 2019.