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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Burna Boy (Love, Damini) Album Review

The much-anticipated Burna boy’s semi-eponymous 6th studio album, Love, Damini dropped July 8th, 2022.

Love, Damini is a 19-track Afrofusion album, which chronicles Burna boy’s personal experiences within the last few years. The album commences with Glory Ft. South Africa’s multiple Grammy award winning group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Glory is introduced with a chant of “happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Damini”- basically, birthday chants in celebration of the super star’s birthday.

It is a soulful blend of traditional music and contemporary pop sound. The song appears to be quite personal as Burna boy uses it to narrate some of his personal experiences (as earlier noted). It also serves as a proper introduction of what listeners may get used to as they listen to or better still, “vibe” to the album.
Glory is followed by Science, an upbeat tune through which Burna boy confesses how he feels about an unknown woman’s body hence, he rightly notes, “your body day do me science”. While he losts after the said woman’s body, he is however, quick to boast about his sexual prowess with woman by stating “everybody knows I am the girl dem controller”.

In Cloak and Dagger, predominately performed in Nigerian pidgin English and Yoruba language, and assisted by British international Grime Act, Jhus, Burna boy and Jhus both take a swipe at “their enemies”. They (Burna boy and Jhus) both allege that these enemies are praying for their downfall as they cry out using Nigerian Pidgin English, “them dey pray make I fall and stagger”. This quest and desire of their enemies to see them fall necessitates the need for them to move with “cloak and dagger” as the title of the song already suggests.

The fourth track, Kilometer, though an already established bop in Africa (as it was released over a year ago) exudes pride and some little arrogance as Burna boy gives a not-too-long account of how far he has come and how (just like in Cloak and dagger) they are praying for his downfall but will not succeed. In Jagele, which has a familiar rhythm to both Burna boy’s 4th studio album assisted singles “Gbona“and “On the low”.

The song quite similar to Science in theme, also gives an impression of “lost” but this time, coupled with love. Burna boy sings about his feelings (both emotional and sexual) for an unknown beautiful albeit cunning lady. He further uses the song as a medium to invite the lady to come and have fun with him.

Through Whiskey, Burna boy narrates a recent challenge faced in his hometown of Port Harcourt where residents had to deal with black soot (from oil and gas) that has long affected them.

The song is introduced by the voice of a lady who is presumed to be a Port Harcourt resident, based on what she is saying. It also ends with the voice of another lady giving an account of the environmental degradation that the black soot has caused.

In Last Last, Burna emphasizes how heartbroken he is (as a result of the end of his immediate past relationship).

He further emphasizes how his situation can be ameliorated if he is given igbo and Shayo (local Nigerian terms for weed and alcohol, respectively). Though heart broken, he is also boastful, as usual. He states how he puts in so much effort in his job and how he cannot afford to be insulted despite all he went through and is going through, as a result of the heartbreak. Last Last is followed by Different Size (featuring Nigerian Afrobeats sensation, Victony).

With a sample of the popular South Korean Netflix television series, Squid Games, here, he declares and emphasizes the supremacy of “Bum Bum”, a colloquial term for “ass” or “butt”. He states that bum bums are of different sizes. However, from his tone and the lyrics of the song, one can tell that though he appreciates that bum bums are of different sizes, he is moved and dazed by big and mighty ones.

Its Plenty is another upbeat bop where Burna boy intimates his listeners on his desire to enjoy- enjoy attention and love from women, money and Alcohol. Just like last Last, Burna boy makes use of the necessary percussions and background chants (which is now a common phenomenon in Afrobeats). Like Science & Jagele, Burna boy also sings about his admiration for an unknown woman’s body in Dirty Secrets, and further states all he will do with her and for her. Assisted by Jamaican international dancehall/reggae act, Popcaan, in Toni Ann-Singh (what sounds like a tribute to former Miss World, Toni Ann- Singh), Burna boy and Popcaan both narrates their love (both emotional and sexual) for an unrevealed female character. However, it is safe to assume from the lyrics of the song that the said lady, though unknown, is as beautiful as Toni Ann-Singh. In Blxst’s produced and featured Solid (also staring Kehlani), Burna boy, Blxst and Khelani basically sings about their love interests and all they wish to do for them (individually). For My Hand sees Burna boy (with Ed Sheeran’s support) express his keen verve to love and be loved. The song exudes emotional vulnerability. Burna boy in an unusual way, expresses his desires to be with a supposed love interest (safely put; the love of his life).

Sampling a line from a popular Nigerian movie character called Jaguar, in Rollercoaster, Burna boy and South American sensation, J Balvin both examines and are thankful for all they’ve witnessed and experienced (including ups and downs).

In Vanilla, Burna boy details his experience with a lady, particularly emphasizing his sexual yet interesting time with the said lady. With back up vocals from his younger sister, Nissi Ogulu, in Common Person, Burna boy reminds his listeners and fans of how human he is. He also pinpoints how he is not in any form of competition with anybody, as he just wants to be happy. He further emphasizes respect for every person- according to him, everybody has a role to play in life but then again, this doesn’t mean that one person’s role is greater than that of another.

Produced by Jon Bellion, featuring international pop star, Khalid, Burna boy sings about how he has always had enormous (wild desires) and aspirations (dreams) of/about success, in Wild Dreams. He implores his listeners to keep dreaming, not to stop hoping for the best.

He is, however, careful to let them know that every dream comes with consequences, as he references how Martin Luther King dreamt and got killed! Quite sensational! In how bad could it be, Burna narrates the frustrations that people face. How certain issues in life can have impact on people’s lives.

He implores his listeners to imagine how bad things can be when they feel down and frustrated. This sounds like an encouragement. Love, Damini, the album’s outro sees Burna boy express his regret for not being as loving and caring as he should be. He references the late legendary Nigerian musician, Sound Sultan, noting that he should have talked to him before he (Sound Sultan) died.

He also speaks of his desire to be a better person. Worthy of note is that the song also features Ladysmith Black Mambazo. In an overall assessment, the album has predominant themes of love, affection and sex. However, Burna boy still finds a way to address both personal and societal concerns and issues.

Indeed, it is a good album. However, a major drawback is how long the album is (19 tracks). This may affect the entire album’s replay value. Listeners may end up selecting favourite tracks and moving on from the other tracks.

Notwithstanding it is one of Burna boy’s best bodies of work. It is a better album melody wise, than his immediate last Grammy Award winning album, Twice As Tall.

However, production and lyrics wise, one may still need time to decide if it is unarguably Burna boy’s best body of work. Further listening will eventually tell.

It is also not out of place to state that the album adequately covers and features Party bops, songs on self reflection, love songs and songs that pinpoints societal concerns (as Burna usually does).

It also sees Burna boy showcase his range, as the album includes multiple genres like Pop, Dancehall, Grime, core Afrobeats and R&B.

In my opinion, the album tilts around 8.8 to 9.0. Quite a distinction. However, there is room for Burna boy to do better.

– Love, Rapheal ( Co-Author).

Olaoluwa Idowu
Olaoluwa Idowu
Olaoluwa Idowu a.k.a Iamsynord is an entertainment lawyer, writer and music enthusiast. He enjoys anything relating to the entertainment industry and he is an advocate for the dissemination of intellectual property knowledge to creatives across Africa.

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