In 2017, Wizkid dropped his ‘Sounds From The Other Side’ album. A second glance at his discography would reveal that it takes the Starboy three years to birth an album. But this birthing was different.
It was coming one year after his feature on ‘One Dance.’ This was a song that had seen the boy from Ojuelegba gain global recognition as a hitmaker.
With his feature on ‘One Dance’ and the harvest of accolades it reaped, more credence and attention was paid to afrobeats as a global dance phenomenon and Wizkid was one of the flag bearers.
So his release of an album was auspicious. In fact, it was the right move to take. It came with a second Drakecollaboration among several other heavyweight international ones; Buciewas the only sub-Saharan African featured. Wizkid was now fully and deservedly in the global leagues, his album made good on international charts but, there was a ‘but.’
The album was undoubtedly good but there was a disconnect on the homefront. Wizkid had taken a visionary step with the sonical direction of the album and there was no Pakuromo, Love My Baby, Jaiye Jaiye, or Ojuelegba, none of the sounds he’d weaned us on.
His sound had travelled but several fans had not made the flight and suddenly had to hurry after him. This left a good number in a haze as if jet-lagged and culture-shocked in their dream destination. Some caught up in good time, some only halfway, others never boarded the flight and there were a lot of contrasting takes whenever the album was a topic.
Eventually, the fans moved on; Wizkid was doing well ‘in the abroad,’ he’d repped us well and the songs were good. Although the heavier presence of saxophone notes, dancehall-inflected lines, and the tracklist of away matches required some getting used to, they found it in them to move on. After all, he was still the one that wooed the people back in the days with his perfect blend of pangolo-inflected afrobeats and adept Yoruba crooning.
So move on they did. He dropped some records–some average, some good. There was Soundman Vol 1. The narrative stayed the same.
And then after much waiting, Wizkid finally dropped his much teased Made in Lagos album.
The title, which much like the previous album’s denotes cultural exportation and promises a sonical acculturation, is an ode to Wizkid’s roots– Lagos, a city he helped to establish as the creative capital of the country.
While the tone and vibe of ‘Made in Lagos’ might bely that of Lagos– fast and loud and stressful, it paints equally intriguing colours.
‘Made in Lagos’, serves as Wizkid’s crowning ceremony of his almost perpetual 10-year reign in the afrobeats scene. With it, he unofficially creates an offspring of genres between afrobeats and afropop that could be termed ‘afrogroove.‘
His unlocking of this level has brought his discography full circle. And there is quite some unpacking to do as regards SFTOS, as it becomes apparent that it was a necessary stepping stone to MIL.
On MIL, we are offered a cohesive feast that is holistically so; from the features, the chemistry and effortlessness on each feature, the effervescence the saxophone notes give off, to the confidence with which Wizkid delivers his lines.
Now looking back at SFTOS, we can finally pinpoint that there was a forcefulness and pressured feel to the packaging of Wizkid’s sound and while diasporan ears might have been deaf to it, it was silently loud and jarring to us. The features and the sonics seemed bent on appealing to the international market.
MIL shows growth where it was least expected and reflects how much the tastes of even the typical Nigerian music lover had grown.
Here, the confidence which Wizkid has never failed to wrap himself in, is absolute, from proclamations on ‘Reckless’ to those on the closing record. It makes it apparent how much at ease Wizkid must have been while creating the album. On the features which notedly do not stray too far from home if at all, the cohesive timbre remains as well. We see Wiz take shots on target from all angles; as an attacker on the heavyweight collaborations and as a Godfatherlike assist with the new-age ones.
For each shortcoming SFTOS had, MIL struck it out so well, Agent Fashola Holme’s camcorder will probably have footage of Wizkid and his team creating the latter with an extensive checklist.
With SFTOS, Wizkid offered us a cup of fine wine, but it was rather sharp-tasting and required patience to savour it. He then went back to the winepress to perfect his recipe and produce the rounded mull that MIL is; an invitation to everyone to kick back to the sounds of ease and calm he preaches.