On Burna Boy and the African Giant Narrative

Building an identity is not a one-off thing. Brands know this. So they invest in telling the same story in different ways, building upon the previous narrative while improving on it.

Burna Boy (African Giant) - Twice as tall

When Burna Boy released African Giant last year, I listened to the songs in the album and I observed that although Burna Boy had an intention, he didn’t have the ideological clarity to express same and his lyrics were shallow compared to the top-notch production of the album.

Let us be sincere, the album, ‘African Giant’, soared on the wings of PR and that’s all. Some songs are decent on the album, but none of them pushed the African Giant identity which Burna Boy was trying to build. If you want to sing groove songs, by all means, do. But posing as the African Giant gives you responsibilities— clarity of identity, awareness and insight into the politics of Africa. Burna Boy lacks that. And I pointed this out in my response to Oris Aigbokheavbolo’s review. He agreed. In an interview with NYT, Burna Boy said:

“I want my children to have an African passport, not a Nigerian passport. I do not identify with any tribe. I do not identify with any country.” It would have been good if he stopped here. After all, he’s the African Giant. But he continued, “I do not identify with anything, really. I identify with the world in the universe — I believe I am a citizen of the world, and I have a responsibility to the world.”
Wait. What? The ‘African Giant’? He missed the mark there.

Burna Boy (African Giant) - Twice as tall

‘Twice as Tall‘ is a good album. Removed from the African Giant narrative, ‘Twice as Tall’ is a decent album on its own. The production and features are amazing. You can groove to the songs. But—apart from ‘Monsters You Made’, it didn’t push Burna’s African Giant narrative. Or am I the one expecting it to?

If Burna intends to use ‘Twice as Tall’ as a strong footing at the next Grammy awards, he could as well forget it. This follow-up to the ‘African Giant’ falls below the standard he’s raised for himself.

Burna Boy (African Giant) - Twice as tall
Image credit: IG @burnaboygram

Adeola Juwon

Adeola Juwon is a Nigerian Writer, Poet and Art Critic whose works have appeared on or forthcoming in Kalahari Review, Kreative Diadem, Lagos Review, EroGospel and elsewhere. He considers himself a connoisseur of African Music, and he adores the Oxford Comma.

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6 thoughts on “On Burna Boy and the African Giant Narrative

  1. Funny, I liked a number of the songs on his African Giant album, but I sort of get what you mean by the narrative he’s supposed to be pushing, especially if he is trending the path of Fela.

    Off his latest album, Twice As Tall, I’ve only listened to Wonderful, and I love love love it! The music video made me love it more -his smile on it was simply contagious. I’ll listen to the full album today, let’s see if I’d agree with you.

    Thanks, Juwon!

    1. Juwon, I’ve heard ‘Twice As Tall’ on repeat since last week. It is indeed a good album. I have a few faves on it, such as, Time Flies, Level Up (Twice As Tall), Bebo, Wonderful and Naughty By Nature.

      He did great. However, I get what you meant as regards the African Giant narrative.

  2. I am not a fan of Burna boy or most Nigerian circular artist, but truthful, I now enjoy reading Juwon’s review and I’m always looking forward to it.
    Thank you for staying here for us, members of the #Galaxy!😉

    1. Ah, let us introduce you to some really cool guys on the scene now.

      Yes o, Juwon is killin’ dem pa… pa pa pa! (FYI, Onyinye, that’s a Burna line…LOL)

      Thanks for the love & support.

    1. Heheheee… What do they mean by, “What does a nerd know about music?”😕

      I like Burna as an artist and I believe if he pushes his African Giant eagle narrative well, he could win himself a Grammy.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Ben. ❤✨


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