5 years later, African Giant remains the most important album in Afrobeats history

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On the 15th of July, Burna Boy will mark the fifth anniversary of his fourth studio album, African Giant which changed the face of Nigerian music. The concert which would be held in the United Kingdom is proudly presented by YouTube Music Nights.

Burna Boy, born Damini Ogulu, first burst onto the scene with ‘Like to Party’, the lead single from his debut album ‘L.I.F.E’ (2013). Some Outsiders, as his fans love to be called, jumped on the train immediately recognizing his talent and sound which was different from what was popular at the time.

While the likes of Olamide, PSquare, Wizkid, and Davido continued to drop chart-topping singles and albums that rocked party scenes, it seemed like Burna Boy produced songs for a select group of people instead of the mainstream.

5 years later, African Giant remains the most important album in Afrobeats history

At a particular point, critics did not appreciate his talent because of how he sampled older songs like Angelique Kidjo’s Wombo Lombo (2013) or when he experimented with the dancehall style in the Spellz-produced track, Check and Balance (2014).

The experimentation and learning over that period have helped Burna Boy become one of the greatest artists out of Africa. In Thanks (ft J. Cole), off the I Told Them album, he says “Oluwa Burna that’s the blueprint of course, and I gave you Afrofusion,” referring to his skills to mix various genres of music with the distinct drums that characterize Afrobeat.

While he has tried to dissociate himself from Afrobeats in recent months, he claimed he brought Afrobeats to the mainstream in 2020.

The truth is when the ‘Coachella incident’ happened, the world was already paying attention. So there was a huge pressure on the African Giant album to succeed and it did not disappoint. Primarily produced by Kel-P, the lyrics of the songs on African Giant explored themes of love, fun, political issues, and the corruption of the colonial administration.

Since its release, African music has seen an unprecedented surge in popularity, from streaming platforms to live shows, and mainstream pop acts such as Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber and Rihanna have been lining up to collaborate with afrobeats stars.

For instance, The UK Afrobeats Singles Chart was launched for the first time in 2020 and Burna Boy holds the record for most appearances at number one. Naturally, his collaborations with British artists such as Stormzy helped to establish his music on the UK scene.

But it all started with the African Giant. That is the album that ran so that the Afrobeats Album that followed, including Burna Boy’s subsequent ones, could fly.

African Giants’ accolades and the Grammy Award that should have been

African Giant received positive reviews from fans and music critics immediately after its official release. Almost all the singles that preceded the album’s release were a chart-topper. Motolani Alake assigned a rating of 9.1 out of 10 in his album review, praising the album’s emotive undertone and stating that there is “a uniform sonic approach to all the beats and the perfection of the journey that Outside (his third album) pioneered”.

‘African Giant’ racked up accolades including ‘Album of the Year’ at the All Africa Music Awards. With chart-toppers like ‘On The Low’, ‘Gbona’, ‘Dangote’, ‘Killin Dem’, ‘Spiritual’, ‘Gum Body’, ‘Anybody’, ‘Collateral Damage’, and ‘Wetin Man Go Do’, ‘African Giant’ is a timeless masterpiece.

The album also earned a Grammy nomination for ‘Best World Music Album’ at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards and many believe it really would have won but for Angelique Kidjo’s Celia. In her victory speech, Kidjo acknowledged the impact of Burna Boy’s African Giant and the great things to expect from the Nigerian musician.

“Four years ago on this stage I was telling that the new generation of artists from Africa is going to take you by storm,” she said while accepting her Grammy. “The time has come.

This is for Burna Boy. Burna Boy is among the young artists that come from Africa that is changing the way our continent is perceived and the way African music has been the bedrock of every music.”

Angelique Kidjo

5 years later, African Giant remains the most important album in Afrobeats history

Burna Boy’s meteoric rise continued when his fifth album, ‘Twice As Tall’ (2020), snagged the Grammy for ‘Best World Music Album’, the first and only Nigerian album to claim victory in that category.

African Giant’s prestige reached new heights in December 2023 when Rolling Stone immortalized it on their ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time’, securing the 330th spot and crowning it the highest-ranked Nigerian album on the list.

Burna Boy is already famous for his electrifying performances, especially in London. So fans can expect that the anniversary of his most iconic albums to date would be a great celebrates his giant leap in the global music industry

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