Artist: Burna Boy
Album Title: On A Spaceship
Label: Spaceship Entertainment
Release Date: November 25, 2015.
Album Review: Burna Boy – On A Spaceship
Burna Boy is back with his sophomore project following his well received debut, L.I.F.E. An undoubtedly talented artist, he is some Sizzla, some Daddy Shokey and perhaps most precious to him, some Fela. His grandfather, Benson Idonije, was Fela’s manager, a connection Burna himself reveres. His homage to the legend started on Run My Race and continued on Soke. There is that, he is from Port-Harcourt, London, speaks pidgin, Patois, English, Yoruba and all his influences are present on On A Spaceship.
After his relationship with Aristokrat Records came to a rather abrupt end, he also parted ways with his erstwhile producer, Leriq, with whom he had hitherto done really good work, as evidenced especially by Like To Party; a left-field, a joint that sounded nothing like what was on the scene at its time of release, with its London-Jamaican influences.
Since then, he’s penned his song-writing and publishing deal with Island Records, released 3 stellar singles that heightened anticipation for the sophomore project, launched his own independent outfit, Spaceship Entertainment and made South-Africa his home earlier in 2015. All that plus his well documented fraternity with South-African rapper, AKA, which spurned the smash-hit All Eyes On Me and his outburst at MTV for the failure to nominate him as a solo act kept him burning on the Naija music radar.
On A Spaceship (OAS) is his announcement of his elevation as an artist over his peers, his chance to prove that he can do it his way and do it well. Talent wise, he is on terra firma with this boast.
The 19 track record opens properly with ‘OluwaBurna’, delivered in his usual pidgin and Yoruba combination. It’s a direct response to his critics. Produced by Spellz, the song is somewhat reminiscent of his 2015 hit, Check & Balance; it’s a good joint.
Another One sounds too similar to Timaya’s mega-hit Sanko, which is ironic because it is on this track that he chooses to address the issue of his style being bitten, still his delivery on the joint quite a delight. If People Must Die is another high on the album, an ode to his departed friend, one of the rare moments on OAS where Burna’s vocals are allowed to shine without the fuss of over active production. Of all the collaborations on the album, Mine Tonight , a sweet, mid tempo lust song featuring Nyanda, one half of Brick & Lace, is the only collaboration that really works.
Soke, made by Orbeat – an up and coming producer – is the album’s standout track, never mind that it was released earlier in 2015. It is mid tempo perfection with obvious Fela influences. Had he had a proper record company situation, this song should have propelled him beyond boundaries; the perfect song to ‘crossover’.
The album’s lowest points come on Single featuring Wizkid, an old Burna joint that was lazily reworked, Before featuring Flavour, an entirely predictable joint that would have been best off the album and the Fetty Wap imitation that is Birthday featuring AKA, Da Les and Kid X. Where and how this joint fits on the album remains a mystery.
The collaboration with Wande Coal, On A Very Good Day, should have banged. These two have great chemistry as exhibited especially on the street classic ‘Amorawa’ but this track sticks out like a sore thumb on the album. J. Fem and Burna Boy do not do good work and it speaks to a lack of oversight on the project that three of the four tracks he produced were allowed to make the final cut, with Rizzla being the exception. This isn’t a reflection on Fem’s work as a producer, he and the artist just do not enjoy the necessary chemistry to make bangers.
The record sounds like a mixtape, a portfolio of edited scenes of the various poses he wields as an artist. The songs individually are not the worst one will hear and that is the problem, half of the album is middling, and leaves no impression on the listener.
OAS has far too many fillers that do nothing for the album. Secondly, too many of the tracks on OAS sound like they should have been made in the early noughties – He is keen on continuing the Galala legacy, he sees himself as the rightful heir to the throne vacated most notably by Daddy Showkey (who he paid homage to on Gbagbe è with DJ Spinall), and he does it justice more often than not; Yawa Dey (from LIFE) and Follow Me, a track which was curiously left off the album, being prime examples.
Arguably the most talented act of the second wave of Nigerian pop-stars, i.e the post-2010 set, Burna Boy is versatile and excels at disparate genres, especially Dancehall and Galala – the relationship between the sounds being close enough that he can weave out of each with little effort – but he is so much more than that. He’s a better lyricist than most of his peers, possesses good vocals and the je ne sais quoi necessary for stardom but OAS does little to burnish this fact.
There is no direction, artistic discipline nor discernible vision on the album. It’s average for the most part. The record in many ways proves more than ever that Burna Boy needs the guidance like that which Aristokrat Records provided, or better yet, Leriq or a producer like him with whom Burna has chemistry. Spellz should have perhaps been given more of a turn to craft the record’s direction.
The album opens with a monologue by music critic, Osagie Alonge, criticising his attitude and failure to justify his talent. That the artist took the step of placing this at the album’s opening suggests that he was confident that record could dispel Alonge’s claims – His confidence unfortunately wasn’t borne out by the work.
Stunted by a mishmash of producers with whom he doesn’t enjoy chemistry and confusion on the part of the artist as to as to the direction the record should have taken, OAS unfortunately fails to take off.
This album is rated 5.5/10
You can follow Tola Sarumi on Twitter :- @AfroVII
*The opinions expressed in this article/review are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of newbanger.com.*