(First Listen Review) Wizkid – Sounds From The Other Side

Wizkid is happy. The type of happiness that emanates from achieving a dream, even beyond imaginable expectations.

“If you see me drive by, holla at your boy” was the simple request Wizkid crooned boyishly on his debut single, ‘Holla At Your Boy’. That was in 2010, 7years later, the boy isn’t just driving by, he’s flying around the world and making people holla at him and his music.

Superstar, Wizkid’s debut album had lofty ambitions in its title and the results proved he had the star power. These days, Superstar is touted as a modern classic afro-pop album. Hit song after hit song is what the album contained. There was no letting up the following year, Wizkid stole the spotlight on the EME compilation album, Empire Mates State Of Mind. Heavy hits like ‘Baddest Boy‘, ‘Dance For Me‘ and even his loosie single ‘Azonto’ proved one thing: It was Wizkid’s world, we were only living in it.

His self-titled sophomore album, Ayo didn’t hit with the same seismic impact of his debut. It was a tad lackluster but it was the precursor to bigger things. ‘Ojuelegba‘, one of his biggest and best songs was housed on the album. One of his more personal cuts, ‘Ojuelegba’ spread like fever and reached its peak with an official remix that featured Skepta and Drake.

Repaying the favor to Drake meant he was part of the biggest song of 2016, ‘One Dance‘. While there were snide comments and banter as to his role on the record, ‘One Dance’ wouldn’t have gotten the mammoth recognition it received with Wizkid’s infectious style of suppressed crooning. It wasn’t simply a Wizkid win, it was a win for Nigerian and African music.

Nigerian music was already garnering international clout but we needed its most popular artist to release new music and pull more people in. Wizkid was in no rush, gathering steam and putting logistics in place for the big takeover, including a deal with RCA records. His new album (mixtape is just for semantics), Sounds From The Other Side which Wizkid has been teasing for close to a year is finally here. The lion is here and we are all ears.

The singles in the lead up to Sounds have jumped between afro-pop and Caribbean pop. The latter is the current de rigeur of pop music and considering the heritage of gyrating, swiveling rhythms both genres share, Wizkid has been able to create really interesting singles. I expect much of the same on this new project, with words like vibes and groove used to frequently describe the songs on it.

No pause, no rewinds or track skipping. Everything after this paragraph is my gut reaction to the music. It is a great day for African music, I hope it lives up to expectations. Let’s get it.

Sweet Love

Starting with some gorgeous horns. Wizkid sounds like a pristine lover. This is hella bouncey, I wonder why this didn’t get more promo. It’s a good song. Oh, that bass guitar is swanky. I’ve had mixed feelings about his choice to interpolate Fela’s lyrics but like anything Wizkid it just grows on you. I know I’m only one track in but can I start the get Wiz a songwriter hash tag? No? Okay. This horns are a trip. The instrumental outro is just pure bliss.

Come Closer Ft. Drake

The big single. I kinda hated this song when it came out, it sounded too wishy washy for my ears but I eventually couldn’t resist. This dancehall riddim thing really fits Wizkid. This song feels like the good life. Sipping margarita while giving/receiving booty rubs. Ah, Drake. Mr vulnerable himself. If only Naija actually had summer. I’m still mad at Drake for not showing up for this song’s video but it’s hard to hate his singing. Wizkid has left iyeyeye to ‘yeah yeah yeah’. Yankee changes things you know.

Naughty Ride Ft. Major Lazer

Somehow, I haven’t listened to this despite all the noise about it on Twitter. Oooooohhh. This is a flex, my head is bobbing. Sade is the love interest. Wizkid the beggar. Love songs for the warm breeze. It’s hard to hate this drum pattern. I see hips locking and gyrating to this song, light Caribbean funk. How did he go from begging a girl to instructing a girl to shake it. Haha. International flex. These songs are really short, good thing.

African Bad Gyal Ft. Chris Brown

This is sounds like Sarz. This beat is strobe lights in sounds. This song needs a video like the one for Daddy Yo. Plenty people dancing and having a good time. Haha, Breezy! That was a glorious entry, he fit right in. This EDM plus afro-pop thing is good, whoever did this is murdering the beat. Impressive beat selection from Wiz, he knows what he excels on. Galala on this beat would go well, I guess. Does Wizkid have to beg anyone to dance to this song? I doubt.

Daddy Yo

The lead monster single. This drums will bring the razzness out of a nun. Never listen to this song in a place you can’t lose your shits. Wizkid bragging about these riches. Efya is still one of my crushes and this hook makes me love her more. I doubt Wizkid wrote this second verse on paper, it sounds freestyled. And it sounds good. Making me dance, this is achieving it’s aim and that’s all, really short songs.

One For Me Ft. Ty Dolla $ign

The bromance with Dolla $ign brings us a song. Oh, this is smooth. Dolla with the OG kush singing. Man, Wizkid is having fun with this delivery, tearing the dancehall pose out with flair. This hook is really nice, Dolla the gentleman. This is an actual love without gimmicky sexual type instructions. The chemistry is in there, nice is all that’s coming to my fingers. Wait is Dolla on staying in the hook? I probably want more but this hook is perfect.

Picture Perfect

This is for the outsiders talking. Wizkid is crooning on this, almost velvety. Okay it has entered whine am point real quick. This atmospheric keys are landing well. I’m not really sold on this yet. The beat isn’t that magnetic, and Wiz isn’t saying anything. Oh, it has finished. Well.

Nobody

This is another slow burner. Wizkid for the ladies so far throughout. Another atmospheric type record. This is midnight cuddling music. He’s straining those vocals. Cassanova Wizkid, he’s probably got enough sugar in his mouth so he just takes his coffee black. “She will give it to me nice and slow”, I see you man, with them innuendos. This has moved from cuddling to its final intimate destination, if you know, you know. Very gentle beat and atmosphere. This is a keeper.

Sexy

Okay, this is closer to home. The local percussions. Oh this is contemporary local groove. Wizkid is riding this, it’s his terrain. This feels like Legendury beatz. Wizkid definitely doesn’t write these things, but they sound really good. Talking Wizkid, I shall take this advice. Oh, that guitar just pushed the song into head swerving terrain. No no no, don’t end now. Noooo. Nice beat, spellz.

All For Love Ft. Bucie

Bucie opening this. I see why she’s on this record. South African house vibes. It’s hard to hate a song with this type of hard bounce terrain. Wizkid is comfortable here, laid back and thriving. There’s something off about their vocals colliding. Okay, it’s balanced out. This is a filler record, a good one. What would I do for love? I don’t know, stop asking Wizkid. Bucie is singing really softly, I don’t understand what she’s saying but please carry on. This guy, stop asking now. Ah.

Dirty Whine Ft. Ty Dolla $ign

The mustard tag. Dolla is back. This hook is ratchet, haha. It’s in the title. Wizkid is in smoothly with some auto tune. Oh, the drums just hit like a Floyd may weather punch. Tearing out the faux patois. These drum drops are the only really interesting thing so far. I’m trying to get into this. It needs something. The beat is just there. And that’s the end.

Gbese Ft. Trey Songz

Okay this is another one for the party scene. Del B on the beat. I like this whirry keys. Haha, Wizkid dropping profanities like it’s nothing. This is bouncing along. It already feels a little redundant but I’m not mad. Trey the woman stealer. Sounding half Nigerian, and still really smooth. Wizkid can afford to enter debt because of a lady’s body, I can’t. So maybe that’s why I can’t fully relate. And we’re done.

That was really quick listen. It’s as I expected, a mix of afro-pop songs and Caribbean pop songs. Sounds From The Other Side is simply a fun record. Very narrow subject matter: women. The songwriting isn’t very expansive but to know Wizkid is to know that he’s not the greatest songwriter.

Obviously the emphasis is on the overall vibe of the project. The short length means it doesn’t get strung out but there are still a few low points. Sounds is a project that revels in its banal nature. You won’t find introspection or anything deep but you will be immersed in a record that you will enjoy for it’s aesthetics and simplicity.

As far repping African music, Wizkid did a pretty good job with an album that will be highly accessible to anyone from anywhere in the world. Wizkid is happy, Sounds will ingratiate you with the same joy it radiates. It’s all warm, positive vibes.

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