Wizkid’s Sounds from the other side mixtape dropped onto the world and it was a beautiful thing. The project is the first the Afropop musician is releasing under his Sony/RCA Records record deal. This project is the first of many for the Surulere born musician to follow the steps of Canadian Drake and Barbadian Rihanna to break into the American music scene that is also known as the International Market.
The 12 tracked project lasts for forty minutes and is a broad listen catering to various musical markets and sensibilities. Armed with the brilliant Sarz as well as collaborators like Drake, Chris Brown, TY Dolla Sign, Major Lazer, Bucie, Eyfa and Trey Songs, the EP wins where it wins and strongly too.
This project might not get nominated for a Grammy, but its success is the result of years of purposefulness and planning.
The album begins for me with African Bad Gyal. This song featured Chris Brown with the American musician blessing the song with incredible vocals. Sarz takes production credit for this song and makes it a summer party jam. It needs to be mentioned that Chris Brown is an incredible musician.
All for love calls the legendary Bucie out of retirement. Initially recorded in 2015, WizKid’s take at Soul is pretty good; rudimentary, but not quite shabby. While his vocals will not score him an A or a B, they are endearing; like a C in a course, everyone expects to fail.
Come Closer features Drake and is WizKid’s biggest song. Two videos, several plays later and it’s still a banger. While a rarity in the Canadian’s career, Wizkid outshone the person that has been most instrumental in his push towards the American market. This song shows that Wizkid might have finally settled into his sound; an ever changing version of Afropop that mixes with reggae and has a Caribbean vibe.
Daddy Yo wasted the incredible vocals of Ghanaian Eyfa. This song is jobless in my books but takes care of the basics and grows into you.
Dirty Wine features TY Dolla Sign and is a song like Come Closer with Drake. There are two main takeaways from this song. 1. Wizkid is lyrically poor. 2. TY Dolla Sign will make everything right. The song is saved by the unique vocals of the American rapper/singer/producer.
Gbese features Trey Songz and is lyrically lazy and should not have made the EP. The song does nothing to play to the strengths of the musicians and is easily forgettable.
Naughty Ride has Major Lazer. The end. This song isn’t bad but isn’t good either. It’s something that an up and coming Wizkid maybe born in Brooklyn would put out and critics would score a B saying the musician has a lot of ‘potential’.
Nobody is unremarkable and it says a lot about the musical style of Wizkid. He is good, but maybe not as versatile. It is not a bad song, it just dances around the borders of ‘good’.
One for me brings back TY Dolla Sign and establishes him essentially as the hero of this project. Everything is done right in this song and it is a masterpiece.
Picture Perfect is for me the most musically well rounded in this project. I realise the flaw in the last sentence, but it is so good, I can’t quite articulate myself. It is a different type of love song and relies on strong lyrics and gritty vocals.
Sexy sounds a lot like 2011’s Pakurumo. The lyrics aren’t as strong but this song will be one to stand the test of time. A truly tribal song, Wizkid attempts to sound like the legendary Fela and pulls it off just okay.
Sweet Love sounds like something from 1967 Lagos night club. Highlife beats with emphasis on the sax to sound again like a Kuti song.
Sounds from the other side is versatility at its best marrying a lot of sounds to give a feel good vibe. Maybe, just maybe with the heavy highlife influence on this album, Wizkid might become worthy someday of the tag “Young Fela”.
This project gets an A from me.
Oluwatosin Adeshokan is a freelance journalist and writer reporting stories about West Africa. He was previously the Culture Editor for YNaija. He tweets at @TheOluwatosin