2019, Music

African Giant (2019) by Burna Boy

I have a musical pet peeve. Okay, I have way more than one musical pet peeve. But one of my musical pet peeves is when people from places with really rich musical traditions meld those traditions specifically with contemporary Western pop music. The number of times I’ve heard an Indian pop song that might have been great but is ruined by some attempt to make it sound closer to American/British pop, I can’t count. To be clear, I’m not opposed to fusing genres. I love music where genres are fused much of the time. What I don’t like is when somebody takes really interesting music and fuses it with less interesting music, either because they think that fusion will be more popular or they have only been exposed to less interesting music.

I mention this because apparently “afrobeats” is a 21st century genre which combines (usually west) African music with pop rap, contemporary R&B and dancehall. (This is not be confused with afrobeat, a genre of music from the 1970s, which combines West African music with jazz and funk.) I don’t like pop rap, I don’t like contemporary R&B and I don’t like the little dancehall I’ve been exposed to. So when I listen to this, what I hear is Western pop music with African rhythms and lyrics (though many lyrics are in English). And I can’t say it does much for me.

There’s all sorts of great music from different countries in Africa. I haven’t heard much music from Nigeria beyond some of Kuti’s but I suspect there is plenty of great music from Nigeria that I will never hear. To me, stuff like this just makes me less likely to actually find my way to the music from Nigeria that I will actually like.

That’s not to say there’s anything bad about it. I’m sure it’s fine and I’m sure it’s popular among fans of afrobeats. It’s just absolutely not my thing and sounds to me like westernized African music. Whether or not that’s fair, I have no idea.

Honestly, the highlight of this album, for me, is the opening of “Another Story,” which isn’t music but which is just a good reminder of colonialism. (As an aside: I find political dance music as weird as a I find political pop music.)

Shoulder shrug.

6/10 because I don’t know what to do

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.