When Pop-Soul Meets Afrobeats – Sam Smith featuring Burna Boy – “My Oasis”

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Pop crooner Sam Smith has teamed up with rising Afro-fusion sensation Burna Boy to release the song ‘My Oasis’, sure to be one of the shining lights in an otherwise gloomy summer. While you might be surprised at the cross-continental collaboration, the track – released by Capitol Records on July 30th – has proved to be a big hit, perfectly fusing the contrasting styles of the artists into a stirring hit single. Their distinctive vocal deliveries intertwine to create a track that is both emotional and driving.

It remains to be seen whether Smith – who has sold over 25 million albums worldwide – will include the song on their forthcoming record, or if the pair will collaborate again, but both are big fans of the other’s music, so don’t rule it out just yet.

‘My Oasis’

Born from a mutual artistic respect between the two artists, ‘My Oasis’ was written by Burna Boy, Smith and his longtime collaborator Jimmy Napes, and was recorded earlier this year. The track marks something of a departure for Smith, as their previous recent singles are firmly rooted in the pop-soul ballad style that made their name. The track has a dreamy drifting feel, but it’s tethered to a driving, dancehall beat, with Smith’s ethereal vocals floating through the mix. The lyrics speak about love and yearning, but with a degree of ambiguity as to whether the affection is one sided or not: ‘You play with my emotions/I’m flowing like the ocean/I pray for your devotion’.

When Burna Boy’s instantly recognisable vocal comes in, he too reflects on the nature of longing, albeit in a characteristically laid back style. Smith has always worn their heart on their sleeve when it comes to the content of their songs, addressing themes of childhood, sexuality, and the course and breakup of relationships in a raw, stark style.

‘This track has been a beautiful release of emotions for me during this time’ said Smith in a statement. ‘I’ve been a fan of Burna Boy for years now and I’m so happy to have a tune with him.’ 

Pop-soul superstar

Born in London in 1992, Sam Smith began singing at a young age, influenced by such soul luminaries as Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder. After a few low key singles the young singer hit the big time with their first full length album ‘In The Lonely Hour’, including the smash hit single ‘Stay With Me’ which catapulted them to global fame. Dealing with themes of love and relationships – despite Smith’s admission that he had never had a partner at the time – the album picked up four Grammy awards and topped charts across the world.

Smith didn’t rest on their laurels, and kept busy with high profile duets, including one with superstar John Legend, a re-recording of their early single ‘Lay Me Down’. In 2016 Smith provided the song ‘Writing’s On The Wall’ as the theme to the James Bond film ‘Spectre’, and their second album ‘The Thrill Of It All’ debuted at number one on the UK and US album charts. Smith came out as gay in 2014, and in 2019 came out as non-binary, preferring the gender pronouns ‘they/their’.

 

Afro-fusion sensation

Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, aka Burna Boy, was born in 1991 in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. His grandfather worked as a manager for Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, and Ogula showed an interest in music at an early age. He began experimenting with music program Fruity Loops, making his own beats in his bedroom, before moving to the UK to study at Sussex University. He rose to prominence with the release of his debut album ‘L.I.F.E’, which fused afrobeat stylings with the rhythms of dancehall and hip-hop influences.

As well as acclaim for his third album ‘Outside’, Burna Boy is noted for collaborations on tracks by other artists, such as ‘Real Life’ with Stormzy released on August 14th; ‘Be Honest’ and ‘Gum Body’ with Jorja Smith; ‘Own It’ with Ed Sheraan and Stormzy; and ‘Las Vegas’ by Yonda, an aspirational song which may also make Vegas fans nostalgic, since these venues might never reopen. You can read more about this on VegasSlotsOnline.

Throughout his albums, Burna Boy’s music also shows a love and respect for reggae, and is also heavily influenced by Nigerian music.

It’s always great to see high profile artists from different musical backgrounds collaborate. And while ‘My Oasis’ isn’t a traditional summer anthem, in a year like 2020, maybe this emotional, richly layered love song is the hit we need.


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