ALBUM REVIEW: 'Wilmer' is an evolving Patoranking let down by obvious weaknesses

The album is of mixed reactions throughout.

Patoranking releases new album, 'Wilmer.' (Instagram/Patorankingfire)

On May 24, 2019, Nigerian superstar singer continued his flying start to 2019 by releasing his second studio album, Wilmer. The album is named after his daughter.

The album has 12 tracks and runs for a total of 42 minutes. The album also contains promotional singles, ‘Lenge Lenge’ and ‘Confirm’ featuring Davido, respectively at tracks 7 and 12.

On the date of release, #WILMERTheAlbum became a trending topic on social media. But like the first album, responses have been polarizing.

N.B: Before we go ahead, the listener must be careful to not let the album's weaknesses overshadow its plus points. Equally, any reader on this review should note the praise as much as the criticism.

Through all the listens, these feelings kept coming back;

1.    Patoranking tries to make the album personal – Hence, the title, named after his daughter, Wilmer.

2.    Patoranking tries to work with different sounds and styles simultaneously, and it doesn't always work for the album.

3.    Patoranking tries to appeal to different African demographics.

4.    Wilmer seems hurried.

5.    Patoranking ends up making a saturated album that was not helped by its track list.

6.    Some songs should not have made the album, some of the weaknesses of the album overshadow the bright points on certain songs.

With that out of the way, here is a breakdown of the album;

As much as Pato’s first album, God Over Everything split opinions, there was a direction and the album has aged way better than people want to admit.

As good as it could have been, Wilmer feels rushed. The album starts off commendably to the title track, ‘Wilmer’ featuring Bara, and the follows up with ‘Feelings.' Sonically, the segue makes sense, but topically, one feels ‘Nakupenda’ featuring Nyashinki should have been track three, while 'Temperature' should have been cut completely from the album.

While ‘Temperaturein itself is not a bad song, it sticks out like a forced irregularity. Sonically, it’s also an unnecessary transition.

Overall, I understand what Pato is trying to achieve; diversity and variety of topics, sounds and styles while he also appeals to different markets. It’s always welcome when artists try to take risks and at least show growth, but it’s lofty ambitions. When it’s not done well, it backfires and it’s never good. This track list definitely didn’t help Patoranking.

It seems what he’s trying to do is make introspective music and dance tracks. If that’s the case, then the track list should have been this;

Wilmer

Nakupenda

Feelings

Black

Zero Probleme

Confirm

Turn Up

Open Fire

Lenge Lenge

Champion

Alongside ‘Temperature,’ ‘Go Crazy’ should have been cut from this album – they both stick out, but ‘Go Crazy’ should still be released as an independent single.

Before we proceed, let me just say the production that started around 02:22 on ‘Black’ is spectacular music that I did not see coming.

The production on Wilmer is by no means bad, but it falls short of infectious and excellent. The adventurous nature of the production is, however, praise-worthy. We got Kwaito (Open Fire), Afro-beats (Confirm), afro-fusion (Every other song), Kwassa Kwassa-infused Soukous (Zero Problem and Nakupenda), Hip-Hop (Black), Reggae (Feelings), and Dancehall (Wilmer).

While Wilmer – if the songs are rearranged - could prove a more balanced album than God Over Everything, the best songs on God Over Everything trump the best songs on Wilmer.

It just feels like some of the songs on Wilmer will only perform commercially only if they’re pushed aggressively – the immediate attraction is just missing. The A&R work on this album could definitely have been better, some beats need to be touched.

For example, ‘Black’ is by far the best piece of production and music on Wilmer, but around 00:29 when the spoken word/rap started, drums should have come with it. It doesn’t have to be a full percussion, kick-drums and low tom at the start of every bar would have done. Equally, something is missing on ‘Lenge Lenge' as with a few other songs.

'Open Fire' is another top notch song.

Patoranking is one of the few Nigerian dance music makers who never dumb down on substance, and cogent topics.

On Wilmer, one can still not criticize his huge focus on themes of love, identity, fatherhood, success, money, and living well. Equally, placing a premium on songwriting in dance music might be unfair, but even if reverse was the case, Patoranking again aced it.

That said, the spoken word/rapped attempt in the first two minutes of ‘Black’ could have been better. While the idea of appreciating blackness will never be old, it feels kind of cliché and that’s not even the problem. The overkill of “black” wasn’t a good look. One feels like Pato should have gotten a writer to get that done for him.

Equally, he should have had a rapper on the phenomenal final two minutes of the song.

As the album is, though there are good songs, there is a tendency to be bored or unimpressed at certain points. There is also the problem of the track list and filler tracks, previously addressed.

Despite its obvious plus points, the album should have been better executed. Patoranking can definitely do better than this, and I hope he does on his third album. The album feels rushed, and the A&R should have been better - as noted earlier.

At times, even the use of auto-tune feels like an overkill. There’s also the well-documented problem of the track list. 

But overall, there's growth in Patoranking's music.

Ratings: /10

•      0-1.9: Flop

•      2.0-3.9: Near fall

•      4.0-5.9: Average

•      6.0-7.9: Victory

•      8.0-10: Champion

Pulse Rating: /10

Tracklist: 0.5/2

Songwriting: 1.8/2

Production: 1.3/2

Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 0.8/2

Execution: 1.0/2

Total:

5.4 - Average

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