Artist: Burna Boy
Title: Love, Damini
Genre: Afrofusion, Afrobeat, Afrorap, Afropop
Date of Release: July 8, 2022
Producers: P2J, Jae5 and more…
Length: 19 Songs; 1 hour 1 minute
Guest Appearances: 9; Ladysmith Black Mambozo, J Hus, Victony, Popcan, Blxst, Khelani, Ed Sheeran, J Belvin, and Khalid
Label: Spaceship Entertainment Limited, Atlantic
I’d wondered what greater heights Burna Boy could reach once he’d won a Grammy. Well, after the glorious ‘Twice As Tall’ comes his latest project- Love, Damini, an attempt at telling the most personal story of his career yet. At least that’s how he described it in the build-up to the release of the album. But as harsh as this may seem, I have merely come to review Love, Damini, not to criticize it.
Love, Damini‘s many facets affirm Burna Boy’s insistence on his music being called Afrofusion. At 19 songs lasting a minute beyond an hour, the project is slightly more ambitious than the previous, as themes of love, sex, grief, and anxiety variedly get their fair share on the spotlight.
Burna’s inclination to seek out the perfect balance between his voice and production has made him one of the world’s best live performers. It’s a feat he carries on in Love, Damini, combining immaculately with producers like P2J and Jae5, especially in the first half of the album.
‘Kilometer,’ and ‘Last Last,’ were already global hits before the full album dropped, while the monstrous Afro-inflected hip hop tune ‘Cloak & Dagger’ with long-time collaborator J Hus, ‘Science,’ ‘Different Size’ with Victony, ‘It’s Plenty,’ and ‘For My Hand’ featuring Ed Sheeran will hope to reach hit status in the coming weeks/months.
However, from those songs, Love, Damini morphs into a haphazard display of vulnerability, as crumbs of ingenuity and a lack of conviction trail the songs that were supposed to get the job done.
Throughout his career, Burna has remained a polarizing figure, skimping from one controversial case to the other. Judging by how he touted Love, Damini as his most personal project yet, it was expected that it would reveal the flawed human and emotional side of Burna with sort of sincerity and application that we’d never seen before from the 31-year-old singer. However, sadly, Love, Damini’s flaws are laid bare by the same elements that were supposed to prove its strength.
After ‘Twice As Tall,’ Burna would’ve felt like he had nothing to prove, and rightly so. But that arrogance may have cost him what would have been a very good project. Instead, listening to his latest album feels like walking inside the mind of a person struggling with conceit but unwilling to let go.
Forgivably, what made Burna the celebrated giant of African music that he is today was never really his ability to draw from raw, innate emotions and feelings, but the seamless ease with which he tackles the external happenings, experiences around him and converts it into deep, powerful relatable art.
Love, Damini may have been a shabby attempt from an idol to connect the dots and flaws that lie within his human side and his immortalised superstar side, but is still a commendable effort. Its numerous feel-good tunes fail to hide its flaws, revealing just how difficult it can be to deliver on promises of ‘personal projects.’
In the end, Burna Boy’s ‘Outsiders’ won’t care too much. After all, Love, Damini still contains, in fragments, the lustrous elements that endeared them to their idol in the first place.