Last night, Grammy-nominated Burna Boy blessed us with another gem this year with the release of his fifth studio album Twice as Tall. The highly anticipated album reached over 8 million streams in the early hours of its late night global release. With the previous issuing of singles “Money Play”, “Odogwu”, and “Wonderful”, and the release of an exclusive comic “The Secret Flame” publication for the album, all contributed to the mounting anticipation for the project’s release. It’s still killing me that Money Play and Odogwu didn’t make it to the album!
Twice as Tall draws from a more soulful and rooted place in your being than the revolutionary and Fela-instilled “African Giant” album. Though the album does not shy away from the socio-political subject matter that is common in Oluwaburna’s music. He makes sure to discuss critical aspects of his upbringing, miseducation, police brutality, social injustice and the challenge of global systemic racism. With a play just under 1 hour, the 15-track project is perfect for a chill day at the beach or an evening wind-down. In a 2019 Rolling Stones interview Burna Boy is quoted saying, “most Americans don’t even understand what I’m saying in my records, but they pick up on the vibe, the vibration.” Executive produced by Diddy and engineered with a Ameri-Brit-Naija team, the sound contributes to a Diasporic foundation for Burna to appeal to more listeners in the West.
Burna strategically chose features with Youssou N’Dour (Senegal), Naughty by Nature (US), Sauti Sol (Kenya), Coldplay’s Chris Martin (US), and Stormzy (UK). Out of the features, I was most excited to hear “Time Flies – feat. Sauti Sol” and “Real Life – feat. Stormzy”. A few years back Burna Boy featured on Afrikan Star and Own It, respectively. So it was nice to hear the re-up on those masterful collaborations.
What I found quite distinctive in the track listing is “Monsters You Made -feat. Chris Martin”, which tackles black oppression, police brutality, and the ineffectiveness of Western states to appropriately address black struggles. Burna does not hold back on the common frustration black people globally wrestle with as we are commonly misunderstood. And if you didn’t hear it, there is so much similarity in the sound to Michael Jackson’s Dirty Diana. I’m not sure if its just a coincidental ode to the late King of Pop, or an ambitious statement of where Burna is setting his sights. The track ends with an excerpt of an interview of Ama Ata Aidoo, a Ghanaian author and academic.
Though I could go on and on about each song, I would rather let you be the judge. Twice as Tall talks about the good, the bad… it talks about Life. It is a masterful sound that the world can understand and relate to. On behalf of the GhanaMade brand, we think this album is a bop from Accra to London to New York and beyond!
Listen to the album and watch the comic narrated by his grandfather Benson Idonije, former manager of Fela Kuti: