Video Review: Burna Boy & Stormzy “Real Life”

A young man rides his bicycle and glances over at his group of friends. A second young man takes a joint out of a third young man’s ear as they walk. A fifth young man brushes his 10-year-old sister’s hair as they sit in the family room. He helps her with her backpack. She skips ahead of him as they walk on the balcony of the apartment building.

The group of friends hang out by school. The young man pushes around a fifth young man. In between classes, the group of friends drink by the stairwell. Burna Boy sings in the street while smoke wafts over the wall. A fortysomething man cries as she stands by the window. She lights a candle at the wake in her home. Stormzy raps in another room of the apartment. Two police officers approach the group of friends. The fifth young man grins as he rests his head on his girlfriend’s lap and feels the baby kicking. He and his girlfriend, now in their 20s, meet with a landlord and discuss getting an apartment of their own.

Wearing Beats By Dre headphones, Burna Boy walks in the neighborhood. He fist bumps some of the young men as they hang out by the brick wall. Lit in aqua blue, one of the young men lights several cigarettes in his mouth. They dance by the window. The group of young men talk as they sit on the couch at the wake. The young man, now in his mid-20s, holds his daughter. His mother cries into a friend’s shoulder.

At night, the fifth young man puts his hands out as a car stops. Some men jump him and beat him. One of the men stands up and washes his bloody hands in the sink. The fifth young man looks at his bloodied hand. His vision blurred, he stares at the leaves on the tree as he lies on the ground. His girlfriend cries as she looks at the wake.

Back at school, some young men play soccer on the field. Lit in aqua, his friends sit by the window in silence. The fifth young man watches the man who beat him walk out of the bathroom. Burna Boy and Stormzy hang out by the fence at night. As a ghost, the fifth young man hugs his girlfriend and mom. A framed photo of the fifth young man sits on the table.

Rating: 5/5

The fifth young man’s daughter says she wants her daddy. His girlfriend says they told daddy goodbye. She asks why daddy can’t come back. He was just lying there. His girlfriend, choking back tears, says his body gave out. She explains that daddy fought really hard to stay with them but his body wouldn’t let him.

She had seen him on the stretcher, blinking his eyes. There was a flash and it was gone. She had held onto her stomach and burst into tears. He was going to be a father. He couldn’t leave them. Not yet. He had a future with them. The fifth young man’s mother sat in the waiting room and stared into her coffee cup. They listened as they were handed information about funeral homes. Her mom said she knew which one and told him. She had gotten up and said she had to make some calls.

His girlfriend waves at one of the fifth young man’s friends. He gives her a half-hearted wave and continues to monitor his spot on the curb. She had heard one of his friends was looking for the guy and wanted to beat him. However, it wasn’t what the fifth young man would’ve wanted. His group of friends had broken apart. Two of them delved into addiction and quit school. One had run off. None of them would know his daughter. His girlfriend walks to the park and sees him playing basketball. Her baby kicks.

Director: Meji Alabi Year: 2020

Pam Avoledo Administrator
Pam Avoledo spends her time binge-watching classic teen dramas and stands firm in her pro-Leyton stance. She also received her journalism degree in 2006 from Oakland University. Her work has been published in the White Wall Review, Sledgehammer Lit , Greatest City Collective & 45 Magazine and forthcoming in Daily Drunk Mag\'s Kristofia anthology.