Album Reviews

Burna Boy – Twice As Tall

(Atlantic) UK release date: 14 August 2020

Burna Boy - Twice As Tall Last month, the UK’s Official Charts Company decided to introduce an afrobeats chart, and not before time. Each breakout success has had a progressively bigger impact on the music scene, both in the UK and worldwide: Fuse ODG’s smattering of hits in the early 2010s, Wizkid’s presence on Drake’s unprecedented 2016 smash One Dance, and now Burna Boy making himself a vital featured artist for UK rappers.

His fifth album Twice As Tall begins with the titular sample, an incongruous slice of white Hollywood that segues into Level Up’s syncopated kicks and wonky melody. Burna Boy’s lyrics focus on his struggle to move forward in his career (“Right when you start feeling like you can’t level up / that’s when you haffi shut the devil up”) and Youssou N’Dour’s hook brings a touch of levity to the proceedings.

Having Diddy as the executive producer is a double-edged sword – you occasionally get his superfluous babble, but you also get gems like Way Too Big, where Mike Dean, Timbaland and LeriQ combine for an irresistibly poppy tune. Synth chords ring out in a virtual echo chamber, the pitter-patter of afrobeats percussion and a bassline that’s perfectly in the pocket both rhythmically and sonically, wrapping up with a deliciously Travis Scott-esque outro, the album doesn’t reach this kind of high point again but it’s an unfair bar to set.

No Fit Vex has the interesting theme of a past animosity for someone else dissolving into cool respect, while Monsters You Made pairs fiery verses on colonialism and oppression with a Chris Martin hook whose vocoder is a dead ringer for Chicane’s Don’t Give Up. Time Flies’ synths are wonderfully warm and the call-and-response hook, alternating between Swahili and English, hits the spot nicely. By the time the vocal ensemble brings Bank On It to a close, it’s clear that Twice As Tall is a novel but worthwhile fusion of disparate artists and styles.

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Burna Boy – Twice As Tall