by Umar Hassan
Who releases a 12 track EP in 2017?.A Nigerian musician; Wizkid to be precise.Perhaps this was what Seyi Shay meant by ‘electronic package’ (lol).
But on the real, it’s just another pointer to the fact that this incredibly talented young man needs to understand the ‘biz’ in showbiz better than he already does.There couldn’t be a better illustration than letting 4 songs and a video leak with an RCA/Sony Music deal to protect.
Without a doubt, Wizkid is Nigeria’s largest ever music export and Sounds From The Other Side (SFTOS) is the only bonafide afro-international release by a Nigerian artiste.
But in the end, it all boils down to the quality of the music. Walk with me.
— Daniel Ajiroba 🇨🇦 (@ajirobadanie) July 16, 2017
1. SWEET LOVE
If the goal was to score big at the onset, then Starboy did just that. He weaves his singing prowess round heavy Fela and Bob Marley influences to make a great afro-beat song. On his day, when he rides the tempo perfectly all the way to the chorus, Wiz can make you sing along to just about anything.
There’s a slight let off at the end, however, when he refuses to stop at Fela’s original Shakara lyrics but goes on to distort it with a scream and some out-of-tune words of his own. Nonetheless this song speaks impressively of Wizkid’s ability to soar in the International market on his own terms. Afro-beat with some Marley says a lot.
2. COME CLOSER (feat Drake)
This would have been the most anticipated song of the EP or a perfect ‘days before’ single if a leak hadn’t necessitated an early official release. Upping the ante doesn’t come any better than Dreezy on a track.
To the topic, this would have been a much better song if Wizkid had gotten his verses right. The beat and hook suggest Wiz had Drake in mind all through the cooking process but when Drake comes on, he reminds just how much he puts into songs like this to make them work and Starboy needs to learn a thing or two from that. The first verse which isn’t as horrible as the second highlights just how key delivery is. There were a few catchy lines that would have sounded better with the right modus. An average ragga verse and a way-out-of mark second help Wiz put a great beat and infectious chorus to awful waste. A singing Wiz on the second verse would have helped switched things up for the better.
3. NAUGHTY RIDE (feat Major Lazer)
Is it just me or is there anybody else who couldn’t seem to find Major Lazer anywhere on this track? Trust me, I tried real hard.
Well, it’s a quite decent effort where Wiz tries to match his real elements with the need to sound global in awesome style. A throwback to the Wiz that could rap, sing and chant a single line all day and still have you love the song to bits.
But Starboy is making Sony type music for an international market and it would help if he tones down on our ‘accepted’ repetitive singing pattern. The really nice ‘ride naughty ride’ chorus starts to give off a shallow and lazy feel when you hear him say it more than thrice.
4. AFRICAN BAD GYAL (feat Chris Brown)
Sarz is a producer I have a lot of respect for but the beat for this song was to put it in the mildest terms, too much of everything. The only point where it doesn’t gurgle up the great vibe Wiz was on is at the start of the chorus where he obliges you a little window to enjoy something at least before he reverts back to status quo in time for Wiz to say “Feelin ur dancing” and shout him out for a badly done job.
And for the record, Chris Brown murdered Wizkid on an afro-pop song. Ain’t that something?
5. DADDY YO (feat Efya)
Contrary to what the big labels may lecture African artistes on altering their sounds to fit into the international market, no one necessarily has to go reggae or calypso. The Latin Americans penetrated the global music scene on their own terms with reggaeton in a manner that intrigues me to no end and I was thrilled to see Wiz put its elements to awesome effect on Daddy Yo. That all too familiar drum on kick mode and a ‘Latin’ Efya on the chorus captivates you from the jump.
I’ll still say Wiz neglected a key element to making reggaeton work: the ‘punch’ factor. This song really needed that and if ever he chooses to tow this path again, I hope his voice won’t sound too soft. A great effort nonetheless. Speaks volumes of Starboy’s artistry.
6. ONE FOR ME (feat Ty Dolla $)
Starboy steps up his lyrical game a notch and keeps his delivery ‘disciplined’ to keep you enthralled from the mumble at the start to his very last words. You get a K.O at the bridge with the ‘In my life’ lines. From a Nigerian perspective, it’s pretty much one of those very rare occasions when you look forward to an artiste’s verses more than you do his chorus and from a global market perspective, I would say the Ty dolla$ hook sounded a bit too slow and ‘choir-ish’ to hand the song a little more ordinary feel than it deserves.
7. PICTURE PERFECT
Wizkid blends his singing perfectly into an air-tight instrumental to drive you nuts and hit repeat on what may pretty much be the best song on the EP.His laid back vocal prowess is so out of here and its bound to have you ‘feeling the wave’ all through.International stuff.
I hope the eggheads at Sony’s A&R department have suggested shooting a good video for this song to Wiz. It could just be the catalyst for major global recognition.
It’s all good till Wiz pulls some really strung-out chords on the ‘I will hold you tight’ part. He spends more than a whole minute remedying the grave misdeed only to repeat it again. Yanked a chunky piece of flavour off what is otherwise a very good song.
Sexy is a pretty infectious tune that underscores Wiz’s position as the best Fela prototype of his generation.It kicks in that ‘good feel’ vibe and seems destined to be a DJ favourite.In as much as I must say Spellz set Wiz up nice with a good afro-beat instrumental, we mustn’t forget how key the heavy use of instruments was to the acceptability of this genre home and abroad. A saxophone just had to fit somewhere in this 3:07 mins track to spice things up. But it only played in my head.
The lady screaming an unwarranted ‘sexy’ in the background was a let-off as well. I’m afraid there may be a day when Starboy’s genius may not be able to make up for some shabby aspects of his composition.
10. ALL FOR LOVE (feat Bucie)
He recruits South African singer Bucie for this house music special. While I admire Wiz’s balls for striving at versatility by trying out different genres, I can’t help but say here he had a great idea that wasn’t properly breathed life into.
It’s so ridiculously shallow, you feel you can count his whole lyrics on your fingers. He owes Bucie loads for her attempt at giving it a little more life.
11. DIRTY WINE (feat Ty Dolla $)
Ty did come through for Wiz on this one in some style. He complements him on a hook made for the dance floor and Starboy was tight with the verses.
Production could be much better though. There is a sad loss of synergy between the beat at the verses and at the hook. The surge of extra life at the chorus sounds rather too abrupt.
12. GBESE (feat Trey Songz)
Add the lacklustre display by Wizzy to the awful beat and you have what may very well be the worst song of this project. Who makes a beat like this in 2017 anyway? Sad.
It totally robs this song a chance of spawning a positive at the very least.I really must shout out Trey Songz for his humility because I would ordinarily think an artiste of his calibre won’t be caught dead recording on an instrumental like this.
After all said and done, Wizkid made a good EP that could have been much better.
Umar Sa’ad Hassan is based in Kano.
Follow @ynaija on Twitter