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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Former UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Laureate, Kofi Annan, Has Died

The celebrated Ghanaian humanitarian and the first black African to serve as head of the UN, passed away on Saturday at the age of 80.

Kofi Annan, the seventh UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away on Saturday morning following a brief illness. "His wife Nane and their children Ama, Kojo and Nina were by his side during the last days," read a family statement. He was 80.

Annan was the first black African to serve as head of the United Nations, holding the prestigious position from 1997 to 2006. He was lauded for his global humanitarian work, eventually earning Annan and the UN a Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for "their work for a better organized and more peaceful world."

Annan was head of the UN during the onslaught of the Iraq War, proving to be one of the most challenging global events to occur under his time as Secretary General and one of the most divisive of the early 21st century. "I think the worst moment of course was the Iraq war, which as an organization we couldn't stop—and I really did everything I can to try to see if we can stop it," he said in 2006.

Annan was also the founder of the Kofi Annan foundation and chairman of The Elders, an international humanitarian organization of global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela.

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Janet Jackson Returns With Afrobeats-Inspired Song & Video 'Made For Now' Featuring Daddy Yankee

The icon's latest is a nod to the sound, fashion and culture of the diaspora.

Ms. Jackson is back.

The iconic artist returns with her first single since the release of her 2015 album Unbreakable, and it's a timely nod to the "made for now" influence of afrobeats fashion, sound and culture.

On "Made For Now," which features Puerto Rican reggaeton titan Daddy Yankee, Janet Jackson does what she's done successfully so many times throughout her decades-long career: provide an infectious, party-worthy tune that's fun and undeniably easy to dance to. "If you're living for the moment, don't stop," Jackson sings atop production which fuses dancehall, reggaeton and afrobeats.

The New York-shot music video is just as lively, filled with eye-catching diasporic influences, from the wax-print ensembles and beads both Janet and her dancers wear to the choreographed afrobeats-tinged dance numbers, which see the dancers hitting the Shoki at one point in the video. The train of dancers travel throughout the streets of Brooklyn, taking over apartment buildings and rooftops with spirited moves.

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Audio

You Need to Hear Juls' New Single 'Saa Ara'


New hip-hop and highlife grooves from the celebrated UK-based Ghanaian producer.

By merging the diverse influence of growing up in Accra and East London, Juls has managed to cultivate a hybrid afrobeats style that has set him apart from the rest.

For his latest single, "Saa Ara," he teams up with award-winning rapper Kwesi Arthur and gifted lyricist Akan.

The brilliant fusion of vintage highlife instrumentals and booming hip-hop beats, along with Kwesi Arthur's lively chorus and Akan's fiery delivery gives the song a very spiritual and classical feel.

Soothe your soul this weekend with these tasteful sounds from Juls.

Listen to "Saa Ara" by Juls featuring Kwesi Arthur and Akan below.

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