Wizkid has just begun to make his claim on the dominant sound. Has he been able to kill it?
Wizkid is doing ‘pon pon’ music, aka the wavy sound that has taken over Nigeria with that Ghana bounce. Starboy returned to Lagos after the release of his “Sounds From The Other Side” project which was dropped for Sony Music.
While Wizkid pursued his international campaign, the soundscape in Nigeria has shifted.
The dominance of the mellow, High-life tune with a signature Ghanaian synth (also known as the ‘Pon pon’ sound) became a thing. Runtown, Tekno, Ycee and Davido are examples of artists who have enjoyed success with the new sound by creating local music with a formula. This development, while it has provided Nigerian music with a new sound structure, has also ensured that the tastes of fans have shifted.
This isn't a new sound for Wizkid. His 2015 single, 'Baba nla', was drawn from it. But in 2017, he is revisiting it again. Wizkid, one of Nigeria’s most talented musicians isn’t going to be upstaged by the adherents of the new wave, and touching base in Nigeria, he is working on more music. According to the singer, he will be recording 20 songs in Nigeria, just because he can. And that’s what he is doing.
He says what he does!
A collaboration with 2face Idibia and Tiwa Savage have already been wrapped up, and we have received new music from the star. So far, since he launched his Nigerian tour-de-force, three songs have been made public. Produced by Masterkraft, one of the continents leading producers, Wizkid is exploring the ‘Pon Pon’ sound. How does he fare? Does he do it better than anyone else? Is her a learner? Should he leave it alone and focus on breaking a new sound?
We already know the depth of Wizkid’s talents run through various layers of artistry. Throughout his career so far, he has run various genres, tweaking his delivery and vocals to suit each music style and fashion out a hit. There’s a Wizkid song in all the popular music genres, and ‘Pon pon’ simply represents a new challenge for the star.
Let’s dive in and see how he has ridden the wave.
It’s strange to see Wizkid jumping on this wave. The reason is that he hasn’t done it before. While Runtown, Tekno, Mr Eazi and his arch-rival Davido has carried the sound and flogged it in many directions, Wizkid is just arriving at the mellowed out party.
Masterkraft offers him a classic wavy beat to run with. It obeys the sound structure of the ‘Pon pon’ wave, with a Highlife synth environment, a recurring baseline dictated by the ‘Pon pon’. Wizkid goes in.
“Your body bad you carry for two,” he starts off on the record, plugging in new ways to express his affection for a woman. The melody is remarkably different, with his voice engineered to give a new vocal texture that many have had a difficult time understanding. This is understandable. Wizkid is a new artist on this record, and although the subject matter is familiar, the tune isn’t.
It’s a polarizing record – you either fall in love or you hate it. But that’s the beauty of it. It makes you feel something. Anything.
Happiness is a perfume that you can’t gift others unless you have tasted a few drops yourself. It’s the same for music too. You can’t make music for others without looking out for your interest. That’s why collaboration between artists are repeated on different records. Each artist would want a personal record for their individual projects. While Masterkraft chopped and cooked for Wizkid, he pushed in a beat for his personal project.
Of course, it’s ‘Pon pon’. Of course, Wizkid jumps on it, and the result has Wizkid continue along the same tropes of love and taking a woman into his heart. While ‘Medicine’ provided a new Wizkid take, ‘Odoo’ feels like something from Wizkid that we have heard before. Only this time, it’s lazier and more vibes-oriented.
This is similar to the original in terms of structure and melody, but Flavour and Phyno brought on their new verses to the mix, but it still obeys all the rules of the original version.
Verdict: Wizkid has just begun to make his claim on the dominant sound. These are baby steps that might prove to big hits. But you never know. Win some, lose some, it’s all part of the vibe.