Music

Burna Boy Confirms His Genre-Straddling Genius In His New Album ‘Outside’

On his album Outside, Burna Boy meshes different genres without losing his sound.

In his latest full-length Outside, Burna Boy confirms his prowess as a genre-hopping genius. He effortlessly dabbles in afropop, dancehall, R&B; and ragga, all with a tinge of the thumping bass prevalent in recent hip-hop releases. He does all this with a purposeful approach, linking his sound to a number of themes throughout.


The album opens with "More Life," a slow piano-based intro that couldn't actually prepare you for the pleasant surprise this album is. The song's title is a nod, of sorts, to Drake's "playlist" of the same name that Burna did some (uncredited) work on. The Don Gorgon doesn't dwell too much on this controversial state of affairs, however, choosing to carve his own path instead. This body of work is a perfect advert for meshing various influences in an upbeat celebration of both his roots and unmatched versatility.

Outside works in an incredible way, and is perhaps best listened to bearing in mind the thematic and sonic relationships these songs share. This is apparent on "Streets of Africa" which sees him riffing off the playful, cartoon-sounding beat trend popularized by Lil Yachty. Amidst a banging bass line, Burna proclaims, "I'm Fela Kuti with the hoes"–enough of a catchy line to deserve its own write-up.

That reference would not only excite the head in you but places him in a historic context. He's the latest Nigerian to grace the Billboard Charts as the sole feature on Fall Out Boy's number one album Mania. It's a long way from the trials and tribulations Burna Boy addresses on "Where I'm From." He speaks of his humble beginnings with the haunting refrain, "Where nobody believes in us, so we believe in ourselves/ Opportunity is a scarce resource."

It's the album's emotional pivot, as Burna explores the feeling of being trapped in one place but trying to reach another. These reality checks hardly dampen the mood, as his emotive forays into love keep the listener feeling optimistic. The pick of the slow jams is perhaps "Giddem," which interpolates the chords of Tamia's seminal "So Into You."

Not far off is "Sekkle Down," featuring J Hus, which is as summery as the illustration on the album's cover art. Sonically, "Koni Banje" has the infectious drums and guitar strings reminiscent of traditional West African sounds. The sultry trumpet that drives the melody is a perfect counter-balance for the ever-present keyboard riffs and patient bass line.

For their part, "Ye" and "Calm Down" are driven by some excellent vocal sampling, showing off luscious harmonies. They're great examples of the refreshing sound on the album, which continues with "Rock Your Body," a laid-back and sexy record that transports you to a tropical realm.

The patois-laden "Heaven's Gate," an unlikely pairing with Lily Allen, ups the ante as an unrelenting dancehall record that displays the Nigerian artist's multi-faceted skill-set. It's a gritty and menacing cut that reminds us Burna's "been bad from a youngin." This track not feeling out of place proves Burna is adept at meshing a plethora of genres without losing his unique sound. That, and the relatability of his subject matter makes for a great listen.

The easily digestible 13-track album aptly closes with "Outside," which has tinges of electro. On it, he ponders why "The good die young, but the dead getting younger/ Age ain't nothing but a number." That line best sums up Burna Boy's efforts. On this project he offers some striking observations—experienced by many—and asks us to keep dancing throughout our journey with him.

Listen to Outside below, and purchase it here.

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Photo courtesy of 1-54/SUTTON.

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair Landing in Marrakech is 2018's Most Anticipated Art Event

The leading art fair dedicated to contemporary African art makes its mark on the continent for the first time this weekend.

This weekend, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, the leading art fair devoted to contemporary African art, will debut in Marrakech, Morocco. The announcement of the Fair's expansion to the continent last year has left aficionados of contemporary African art in eager anticipation of this "homecoming"—this author included.

1-54 debuted in London in 2013. Although an expansion to New York followed, a presence on the continent was always part of the long-term vision of the founder Touria El Glaoui. Finally, the time has now arrived.

Here are five reasons why we're looking forward to 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair Marrakech.

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This Olympic Figure Skater Blew Us Away Again By Pulling Off a Costume Change Mid-Routine

First Maé-Bérénice Méité performed to Beyoncé, now she's effortlessly slaying outfit changes mid-routine. What can't she do?

French-Congolese and Ivorian figure skater, Maé-Bérénice Méité, has pretty much been the life of the Winter Olympic figure skating competition.

Earlier this month, the athlete had the internet shook when she performed her opening routine to two Beyoncé songs. Now she's back with even more black girl magic.

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Video still via YouTube.

10 Stand Out Moments From Janelle Monáe's Powerful Music Videos

Janelle Monae came back making a statement—and we're just as obsessed as you are.

We've got to talk about Janelle Monáe.

Over the past half decade, she's embarked on a profound journey that's solidified her as an artist, creator and activist who isn't afraid to shoot down the stars—or shoot with them.

After having roles in Hidden Figures and Moonlight—two Oscar nominated movies where one won an Oscar, a stellar speech at the Grammy's and a stunning presence at the Black Panther red carpet, she's ready to grace us with "Dirty Computer," the latest musical venture in her Afrofuturistic saga.

To whet our appetites before the album, which is set to release on April 27, Janelle dropped not one but two music videos yesterday. Both are distinctly entertaining: one is a black, intersectional feminist anthem and the other a psychedelic soundtrack of sexual fluidity.

Watch both, then read some of the highlights we gathered from the hypnotizing visuals and powerful wordplay.

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