Op-Ed

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.

Popular
Artwork: Barthélémy Toguo Lockdown Selfportrait 10, 2020. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair Goes to Paris in 2021

The longstanding celebration of African art will be hosted by Parisian hot spot Christie's for the first time ever.

In admittedly unideal circumstances, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair will be touching French soil in 2021. The internationally celebrated art fair devoted to contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora will be hosted in Paris, France from January 20 - 23. With COVID-19 still having its way around the globe, finding new ways to connect is what it's all about and 1-54 is certainly taking the innovative steps to keep African art alive and well.
In partnership with Christie's, the in-person exhibits will take place at the auction house's city HQ at Avenue Matignon, while 20 international exhibitors will be featured online at Christies.com. And the fun doesn't stop there as the collaboration has brought in new ways to admire the talent from participating galleries from across Africa and Europe. The fair's multi-disciplinary program of talks, screenings, performances, workshops, and readings are set to excite and entice revelers.

Artwork: Delphine Desane Deep Sorrow, 2020. Courtesy Luce Gallery


The tech dependant program, curated by Le 18, a multi-disciplinary art space in Marrakech medina, will see events take place during the Parisian run fair, followed by more throughout February.
This year's 1-54 online will be accessible to global visitors virtually, following the success of the 2019's fair in New York City and London in 2020. In the wake of COVID-19 related regulations and public guidelines, 1-54 in collaboration with Christie's Paris is in compliance with all national regulations, strict sanitary measures, and security.

Artwork: Cristiano Mongovo Murmurantes Acrilico Sobre Tela 190x200cm 2019


1-54 founding director Touria El Glaoui commented, "Whilst we're sad not to be able to go ahead with the fourth edition of 1-54 Marrakech in February as hoped, we are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to be in Paris this January with our first-ever fair on French soil thanks to our dedicated partners Christie's. 1-54's vision has always been to promote vibrant and dynamic contemporary art from a diverse set of African perspectives and bring it to new audiences, and what better way of doing so than to launch an edition somewhere completely new. Thanks to the special Season of African Culture in France, 2021 is already set to be a great year for African art in the country so we are excited to be playing our part and look forward, all being well, to welcoming our French friends to Christie's and many more from around the world to our online fair in January."

Julien Pradels, General Director of Christie's France, said, "Christie's is delighted to announce our second collaboration with 1-54, the Contemporary African Art Fair, following a successful edition in London this October. Paris, with its strong links to the continent, is a perfect place for such a project and the additional context of the delayed Saison Africa 2020 makes this partnership all the more special. We hope this collaboration will prove a meaningful platform for the vibrant African art scene and we are confident that collectors will be as enthusiastic to see the works presented, as we are."


Artwork: Kwesi Botchway Metamorphose in July, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery 1957


Here's a list of participating galleries to be on the lookout for:

Galleries

31 PROJECT (Paris, France)
50 Golborne (London, United Kingdom)
Dominique Fiat (Paris, France)
Galerie 127 (Marrakech, Morocco)
Galerie Anne de Villepoix (Paris, France)
Galerie Cécile Fakhoury (Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire/ Dakar, Senegal)
Galerie Eric Dupont (Paris, France)
Galerie Lelong & Co. (Paris, France / New York, USA)
Galerie Nathalie Obadia (Paris, France / Brussels, Belgium)
Galleria Continua (Beijing, China / Havana, Cuba / Les Moulins, France / San Gimignano, Italy / Rome, Italy)
Gallery 1957 (Accra, Ghana / London, United Kingdom)
Loft Art Gallery (Casablanca, Morocco)

Luce Gallery (Turin, Italy)
MAGNIN-A (Paris, France)
Nil Gallery (Paris, France)
POLARTICS (Lagos, Nigeria)
SEPTIEME Gallery (Paris, France)
This is Not a White Cube (Luanda, Angola) THK Gallery (Cape Town, South Africa) Wilde (Geneva, Switzerland)

For more info visit 1-54

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Listen to Sibusile Xaba‘s New Jazz Single 'Umdali'

Sibusile Xaba's single 'Umdali' featuring Naftali and Fakazile Nkosi comes ahead of Brownswood Recording's highly-anticipated contemporary jazz compilation album 'Indaba Is'.