Burna Boy dumps Afrobeats on his new album, ‘I Told Them’
Burna Boy releases his new album today, and it’s a bouquet of hits and enjoyable melodies.
Burna Boy is one of those artists who hasn’t lost his ‘hunger’ for outdoing his last project. Love Damini, though with some big hits, lacks the wholistic theme, and intentionally that went into its older siblings, African Giant and Twice As Tall. On the other hand, I Told them has this specific quality.
The Perfect Sequence
I Told Them's track sequencing makes it feel like one long playlist. All the songs blend delightfully into each other. The first interlude doesn’t seem to fit in as seamlessly as the other tracks, but this is understandable as it's a recording of a call. The rest of the album floats the listener from song to song on the best chords and beats.
Burna Boy makes use of different sonic elements to achieve the impressive sound of the album. He is generous with the synths and acoustic guitar. He is, however, not afraid to sprinkle a saxophone here or a flute tune there. Now, let's dive into the tracks.
I Told Them ft GZA
This song is a great opener for the album. It captures perfectly the ‘I told you so’ theme that Burna Boy is trying to sell. He wants his haters to know that he has made it and that he already told them earlier. This song has a catchy melody, and Burna’s vocals have improved since his last album.
This song was a bit underwhelming, but the hook/chorus immediately elevated it to a banger level. The second verse is much better, as it has a steady bass and, of course, a catchy melody. The short length of the song makes it memorable because the hook is very catchy.
On this track, Burna Boy is fully in his bragging bag. The chorus is a perfect blend of the choral background vocals that are prominent in Asake and Seyi Vibez’s music and Burna’s. It’s catchy and speaks to his desire to outdo himself. "Ah, e no dey tire me", the artist says, talking about how he is never tired of improving his craft.
Sittin’ on Top of the World ft 21 Savage
This song was pleasant, but the use of a Brandy sample was slightly underwhelming. The song samples Brandy ft. Mase’s ‘Top of the World’ but though the hook is catchy, it lacks a certain pzazz that the first three tracks of the album had. 21 Savage was very impressive on this track and ties in seamlessly with Burna’s vision
Tested, Approved & Trusted
This is easily one of the best songs on the album. Opening with strong vocals and a sultry saxophone riff, the song is a masterpiece. The song has heavy dancehall and reggae influences and Burna is in top form with lyrics, melody and delivery.
Cheat On Me ft Dave
This track also samples another popular song, Cheating On Me by Kwabs. The melodic pattern is similar to his earlier hit song, ‘Bank On It’. Dave slides on this track too easily, as his bars belong on an afrobeats jam. The collaboration is a success, as the song is pleasant and has high replay quality.
Burna’s tribute to the fashion powerhouse, Virgil Abloh, is a recording of them on a call where his phone dies. This serves as an interlude to the next song, which actually pays a tribute to Virgil in the lyrics.
This song has such a catchy melody. The artist shouts out Virgil Abloh again in this song. Mostly, he sings about being inebriated. On this fun-sounding track. It is very enjoyable and would probably be one of the higher-ranking songs from this project.
The artist coined popular slang to create this track’s chorus. This song is also very catchy, and the call and response make it such a fun listening experience. The lyrics are also very fun. Burna talks about moving so quickly career-wise that people are confused.
This song is one of the clips that Burna released early this week to promote the album. The song kicks off with a wonderful tinkling sound and a strong first verse. This is a headbanger and will have listeners in the club on the dancefloor. This song explores the idea of the inner lives of city boys and celebrities.
Giza ft. Seyi Vibez
Seyi Vibez shines brightly on this track. This is a great introduction to Seyi Vibez for anyone who was hesitant to give his sound a chance. The song is very catchy, yet unique. Burna also blends into Seyi’s sound in a seamless way. The song has very fun vibes and is bound to appeal to listeners who love to dance.
12 Jewels ft Rza
This is another interlude track, and it itemises the twelve important things that a man should aspire for.
If I’m lying
Burna changes the pace of the album with this RnB-heavy record. A beautiful acoustic guitar string sequence accompanies his singing. The chorus is emotional and beautiful.
Thanks ft J Cole
In the echo of Burna Boy’s feeling that he is underappreciated by Nigerians, this song captures his feelings on the matter perfectly. “Is this the m@#$^&&%) thanks, I get?, for making my people proud every chance I get?”
The chorus on this is stellar with its catchy melody and synth chords. J Cole, of course, comes through the sickest bars.
Talibans II- Bonus Track
This song is groovy, with a catchy melody and a pleasant beat. The song is a fusion of afrobeats and reggae in perfect degrees. The chorus is honestly one of the best ones on the album.
Album themes and delivery
The overarching theme of the album is proving the haters wrong, and I think a lot of the music addresses it adequately. Within the album, he explores smaller themes of handwork, tracing isolation and embodying a successful person.
As usual, Burna’s delivery is strong and charismatic.
Conclusively, though, I found the album enjoyable, some of that enjoyment was reduced by Burna’s earlier comments in an interview about Afrobeats having no substance. He also implied that he invented the afro-fusion genre to make up for the lack of ‘substance’ of Afrobeats (he did not, afro-fusion existed long before he dropped his first single). His hubris made me expect a lot more from the album than I eventually got, but it is not a bad album at all. In fact, it may score him another Grammy Award nomination.
Overall Rating - 7.7/10