Burna Boy’s sixth studio album ‘Love, Damini’ is sitting high on the global charts. The self-titled project has 19 songs in several genres, including afro-fusion, R&B, dancehall, reggae, hip-hop, and pop. The Nigerian star’s government name is Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu.
In a Billboard interview, Burna talked about the album saying, “It’s a bit personal [because] it’s bringing you into my head on my birthday — when you turn 31 and ain’t got no kids, everything is going good and bad at the same time. You reflect and then you get as lit as possible. Then you sleep and wake up and reflect again.”
“I’m reflecting on everything,” the one-time GRAMMY winner and four-time nominee continued. “What I’m doing and what’s happening where I’m from. Where I’m from is a part of where I’m going.”
The album’s lead single Last Last is a breakup song that is ironically the song of the summer. It has made it onto the Billboard 100 Chart and is #1 on Billboard’s U.S. Afrobeats Chart. He performed it for the first time during a concert at Madison Square Garden, where he made history as the first Nigerian headliner, according to Blavity. The track produced by Chopstix, samples popular Toni Braxton’s classic, ‘He Wasn’t Man Enough.’
In an interview with the Million Dollaz Worth of Game podcast, Burna talked about how much the sample is costing him, “I always wanted to use that sample and I knew Chopstix could do something crazy with it. I just pointed that sh-t out and he took it from there. That’s one of the most special creative processes ever, but she is taking 60 percent of the sh-t.”
“I’m not complaining, man. Hopefully, she even pops out to one of the shows,” he told the hosts.
Burna Boy said Tony Braxton takes 60% of the earnings from Last Last for the sampling 😭😭 pic.twitter.com/CQqV3KxOXD
— BASITO (@itzbasito) July 4, 2022
Love, Damini’s cover that shows Burna with two birthday cakes in front of him, was shot by Mikey Oshai, with creative direction from Ronami Ogulu (Burna’s sister). It features South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo at the tail end on Glory and the emotional closing title track Love, Damini. Then British-Gambian J Hus makes an appearance on Cloak & Dagger, and Ed Sheeran adds his pop sound to Its Plenty and For My Hand. The video for the latter is trending across 15 countries.
Other highlights include Colombian star J Balvin’s appearance on the afrobeat-reggaeton cross-over song Rollercoaster and island vibes from dancehall staple Popcaan on Toni-Ann Singh. The R&B sound comes through American artists Kehlani, Khalid, and Blxst on Solid and Wild Dreams.
In a press release, Atlantic Records states that Love, Damini debuted at #14 on the Billboard 200 Chart, #1 on the UK’s official album chart, and #1 on Apple Music in 47 countries. It has surpassed Wizkid’s Made in Lagos, which was until now the highest charting Nigerian album in Billboard 200 history with a debut at #28.
The emotive body of work explores victory, love, lust, and sadness. Burna takes on every subject near and dear to him, including environmental pollution in his hometown. In Whiskey he conveys in a sober and measured tone its devastating impact, “Some people bind and cast/Some of them pray, and fast/I see see pastor don dey fat/Shey na the thing God command/Because of oil and gas, my city so dark/Pollution make the air turn black/Every man have to stay on guard.”
Unfortunately, the soot problem in Rivers State has significantly worsened in recent years. Carbon particles emitted from substandard crude oil refining processes have built up in the atmosphere. Soot deposits are seen on buildings, vehicles, and homes, and doctors report that respiratory-related illnesses have almost doubled over the past five years according to The Guardian.
Of course, critics have pointed to some missteps in the project. For example, in How Bad Could It Be, Burna’s celebrity friends, Naomi Campbell, Swizz Beatz, and Jorja Smith offer tips on how to deal with a bad mood. But instead of inspiring the masses their musings have a classist tilt that is hard to look past.
But overall, Love, Damini is a versatile body of work that shows Burna’s more vulnerable side and is deservedly the highest charting Nigerian album in history.