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11 Big Themes Explored in Burna Boy’s Love, Damini

By Chinasa Afigbo
22 July 2022   |   10:42 am
Two years after releasing his Grammy Award-winning album, Twice as Tall, Burna Boy returns with Love, Damini; an intimate project with tidings of uncharted waters; perfectly crafted to stir emotions and glare. The 19-track project points out the themes listed in this piece; takeaways on pain, loss, gluteal lift, environmental pollution, existentialism, self-awaereness, success, heartbreak,…

Two years after releasing his Grammy Award-winning album, Twice as Tall, Burna Boy returns with Love, Damini; an intimate project with tidings of uncharted waters; perfectly crafted to stir emotions and glare.

The 19-track project points out the themes listed in this piece; takeaways on pain, loss, gluteal lift, environmental pollution, existentialism, self-awaereness, success, heartbreak, love, sex, and romance. We cannot but deliberately state the obvious that Love, Damini is a hearty love letter to the world, his fans in particular.

Reflections on Pain and Loss: Burna Boy definitely knows how to shine through pain using his vocal strength. The introspective artiste opens Love, Damiini with a classic intro from the grandest choral group from South Africa, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, on “Glory” to prepare our minds for what is to come . Burna Boy goes on to tell us “his story.” First, he reminisces on the death of his best friend, Gambo, a name that has appeared in most of Burna Boy’s songs and interviews. Last year, during an interview with the British magazine GQ, Burna revealed a large tattoo of Gambo on his stomach. He describes the pain of losing his friend to apartheid, “felt my heart split apart like apartheid”. Burna Boy lets us into his life with another traumatic account of himself in Chelmsford HMP, a UK prison. He recounts how he defended a fellow cellmate and had his hand severed, as well as other bad treatment he received from his fellow cellmates because he was black, singing, “You know the screws get extra ruthless when you’re black.””Last Last” is another song on the album that comes from a place of pain and loss. The process of going through pain and coming to terms with the loss of an affection: how pain becomes the catalyst to demand more from us. Burna Boy illustrates this analogy at the beginning of “Last Last”, where he sings, “You go bow for the result oh,” and seals it with “Nothing to discuss o.” The decision stands, and he is ready to get to the ends of the earth if it means topping the game.

Perils of Success and Fame: Burna tackles the two obvious flavourings of his existence on the highly anticipated track from his album, “Cloak and Dagger”. The song addresses Burna’s mindfulness of being successful and famous, alongside enemies against his progress. He would rather be on guard than take any chances. “So I move in, cloak and dagger,” he is ready and armed for whatever may come.”Since I started, dem dey carry my matter/No be now, we go scatter my dada, huh,” he raps.This buttresses the fact that being famous or a celebrity comes with various episodes of gossip leeching off their lifestyle. We can only imagine how bad it gets if you are Africa’s biggest international artiste. Then he makes it clear, “no be now, we go scatter my dada.” He has conquered the world and he wants his enemies to know that he will be chilling, “in a Lambo’ with Jowi Zaza” and in his possession are “Diamond teeth with a pocket full of rubber”. On “Wild Dreams,” Burna Boy brings to our attention that no matter how his enemies try to deduce his weakness, they will fail because he hides from the world and aims for higher echelons. While at it, he mirrors his weaknesses in his songs that end up capturing all hearts, like what he did with “Last Last”. Burna Boy is briefing us on the burden that comes with fame and success, how these two can be both life’s strongest specie and confining shoes. “Glory” is where Burna unpacks the uncurbed suitcase; when he sings, “hold it down, I was sentenced by the crown” and “havin’ nightmares of the day I fall off.”

Trails of Hard Work: If there’s one thing the Ye crooner will never stop doing, it’s bragging about how much time he puts into his craft. Love, Damini carries multiple references to this truth. On “Kilometer” he sings, “I don waka many kilometres/Learn from the teacher, I don tey for the game, Shina Peters/I dey sight bad mind from a distance/No dey sweet, I be Alomo bitters.” Like many who stayed hard on their game to get to the point of sustained recognition, Burna Boy is giving us a robust understanding of what it took to be whom he is today. The use of a distance metric intensifies the inability to harmonize the message he puts across. He connects his proficiency to the Juju legend, Shina Peters. But, more importantly, the experience has transformed him into a stout: “No dey sweet, I be Alomo bitters.”On the second verse of “Wild Dreams,” he reflects on valuables, friends he lost on the quest for greatness and why it is difficult to refrain from the journey. “I dey feel like a steel water where dey run deep/Because the life I dey live today never come cheap/I feel like it’s taken something from me/Have to sacrifice if you want become me/Life is a ride, I take the front seat/Let the most high drive, He can’t go wrongly. ” On the first and third verses of “Glory”, he notes, “Ten toes on the ground, what the hell?” and, “Lookin’ and went searchin’ through trials that occurred/Then I started workin’ twice as hard.”

Environmental pollution: Burna Boy, like many indigenous ambassadors of the oil-wealth state of Port Harcourt, speaks against the illegal refineries damaging lives and the environment with carbon particles. He explicitly narrates the ordeals of his people; “Port Harcourt resident, they are not breathing fresh air/My people make una dey see am/ when you wake in the morning/You go cough black soothe/The cars if you see the way the cars/Them go dey black everywhere,” a female commentary voice opens up on “Whisky”, before he sings, “Because of Oil and Gas/ My city so dark/ Pollution make the air turn black/ Every man has to stay on guard.” His frustration beams across the harmonious elegy.  

Self-awareness and Recognition: on “Rollercoaster,” Burna Boy certifies the core of his existence: “This life is a gift from the most-high Jah/That is why I’m thankful for all I have.” Then he solemnly sings, “‘Cause the fast life really ain’t all that/So now I try to be pure.”

He notifies on “Common Person” that being rich and famous does not stop him from being human. “I be common person, but my happiness, still be my own.” In the next line of the chorus, he demonstrates the societal neglect of less privileges, singing, “everybody get a role, no mean say your own role, passin’ my own.”

On “Last Last” Burna reasserts the knowledge he has of himself. He does not need to be reminded of his talent because, with all due respect, “You go bow for the result/Nothing to discuss o, cause I dey win by default/And without any doubt.” That is why he goes on to sing, “I no go fit take your, I no go fit take your insult o/Omo mind as you dey talk o/I put my life into my job.” He does something similar on “Love, Damini” but from a different view, where he talks about his shortcomings and some responsibilities he is failing at, “there are things that I hardly say, “How you been, mama? How’s your day?”/I should talk to my granddaddy more before it’s too late.”

Heartbreak and Atonement: Burna Boy opens up on the most potent and personal song in the album, “Last Last”, to tell us about his lost love. And then he goes on to seek solace in commonality when he chants, “E don cast, last last, na everybody go chop breakfast.” Before dousing his bruises, he sings, “Maybe another time, maybe another life, you will be my wife and we’ll get it right.”. On “Love, Damini” he emits familial pain and despair for his flaws.

Self-emancipation: It’s quite obvious that Burna Boy achieved a lot for himself with, “Last Last”. The chorus alone finds him on the verge of liberation, purging his soul of all hatred, pain, and misery with the help of weed and booze. Also, he reaffirms the resolution to meet goodness on the other side when he sings, “Live my life and I enjoy every moment/Na the vibe me I dey for this New Year,” on “Science.”.

Gluteal Lift: “Different” was one of the tracks that charged a lot of attention on social media because of its pungent appreciation for the derriere. The reason we are noting the underlying theme in the song, in case some of you missed it.  Burna boy might be having a bad day, but he is always willing to sponsor his woman on a gluteal lift. On his verse, he sings, “Small waist and the bum bum double XL.”While he’s at it, he doesn’t dismiss the naturally shaped butt, concluding his verse with, “Normally, shey you get am naturally/But I no complain/Cuz bum bum dey different size, oh.”On “Vanilla” we see the contention between two butts, which begs the impression of gluteal lift. 

Existentialism: Burna Boy will always be true to his voice as he makes reference to improving his existence on earth with some tracks. “I don’t know how to show you my love without fuckin’ up,” he sobs on “It’s Plenty,” an honest plea from a lover who wants to do better. Elsewhere on the song, he professes, “For this life I dey, I want to be celebrated/Don’t wanna waste my days/I want to spend them on enjoyment.”

On “Wild Dreams” he discusses the candidness of breaking boundaries to soar in life when he sings, “Remember everything you see today at some point in time started from a wild dream.” And further says, “At the same time, wild dreams are dangerous to people/Who can’t see further than what’s in front of them.”

Romance, lust, sex, and love: the self-acclaimed African Giant has a peculiar style of delivery when it comes to matters that tickle the heart. Don’t we all love him for that? Listening to “Dirty Secrets” you are reminded again that “Odogwu is bad”, a bad boy that owns up to his advances and does not hesitate to take you on lewd adventures at the dawn of a new day. Still on “Dirty Secrets” he addresses his pleasure for the opposite sex and his desire to manifest more than her yearnings. “I’m fuckin’ at the mornin’, I’m fuckin’ at the evening time/Wan’ check up on your body, make sure that you’re feeling right/Gyal, tell me all your problems, show me how you feel inside/I come into your life and change it to the easy life,” he sings. “Science” is a more assertive track that illustrates his masculine traits, taking a feminine bait because it suits his taste. “Baby yes, na me be your client/When you wine you dey do me science/Any market you sell I dey buy am,” he confirms. “Solid” speaks of a fierce love on a jolting Peugeot heading its way into a city’s popular bar for some cold beer, while “For My Hand” speaks of a soft love on beach night walks and museum dates.

Mental health and its magic tricks: Burna Boy begins “How Bad Could Be” by letting us know how some other celebrities handle their bad moods. A way of telling us that everyone, no matter their status and caliber, undergoes sullenness. He further highlights the importance of evaluating our mental health in every given situation so as to stay firm in the face of depression. “Glory” and some of the introspective tracks on the album also speak about mental health and its difficult times. In the history of Burna Boy’s album, Love, Damini is a musical compadre catalogued with weightier emotions and thought-provoking themes than his previous projects.




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