August 14, 2020
(Atlantic)By rooting modern production in traditional melody, and drawing on various musical styles while staying true to African pop, Burna Boy defines multilayered black identity
Burna Boy: Twice as Tall review – fun and fury from Nigerian pop polymath
For a vivid snapshot of what Burna Boy is capable of, head for track 12 of new album Twice as Tall, entitled Monsters You Made. The music is modern Africa, in the same way grime precisely captured young London of the day. Drill down, and the cleverly deconstructed phrases echo familiar-sounding black music concepts – in this case, roots reggae – but as a whole it’s totally of its immediate environment, and utterly original. Lyrically, the song is a sharp focusing of the singer’s never-far-from-the-surface rage into a furious condemnation of an under-considered aspect of global black life. He addresses the ruling classes, arguing that it is they who have fomented any black anger, even crime, through colonial oppression. If Black Lives Matter organisers were looking for a theme song, they’d be hard pushed to find a better fit.
Monsters You Made also has an in-song pairing we’re never likely to see again: 78-year-old Ghanaian feminist, political activist and playwright Ama Ata Aidoo and Coldplay’s Chris Martin. The former is in the shape of a snatch of TV interview about the damage done to Africa by colonialism, in which she rinses the host and hangs him out to dry; the latter finds Gwyneth Paltrow’s ex-husband singing a chorus warning that there’s only so much people are going to take.
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