Mixtape - Sounds from the Other SideArtist - WizkidRecord Label - Sony/RCA RecordsDuration - 40 minutes

The expectations on Wizkid’s shoulders are huge.

For a man so diminutive, Starboy is shouldering the hopes of an entire continent on those lean shoulders. To some, he is Africa’s first global pop superstar. To others, he represents a black messiah, the second coming of Fela Kuti, who will grab our traditional pop sounds by the reins and ride it to global attention and dominance.

Wizkid has risen to the challenge on every front. He has transitioned from his African base to include international markets with an ease that is both surprising and respected. His team has grown considerably, and his work rate has had him recording and making power moves with US superstars. It is no surprise that in the past one year, he has been nominated for a Grammy, won 3 Billboard awards, and fired through with a project featuring Chris Brown and Drake.

“Sounds From The Other Side” arrives on the back of his deal with Sony Music Entertainment and RCA Records. That business affiliation has provided Wizkid with both recording, marketing, promotional and distribution resources for this mixtape.

In the weeks preceding to its release, Wizkid has dominated the airwaves for two reasons. On one side, he is the classic troublemaker, engaging in a very public beef with Nigerian arch-rival Davido. The drama has polarized fans, and inadvertently drummed up support for this project. But that wasn’t his only preoccupation. In the US and UK, he made career moves, hosting fans to free shows, touring the media for revealing interviews, and announcing concerts and tours.

Most of the early conversations and revelations about “Sounds From The Other Side” and singles released have already prepared fans for a new artistic direction on this project. Wizkid is taking a risk by playing at this level, and on the microphone, it is reflected by his emphatic Caribbean influence on his new records.

His previous projects (“Superstar” and “Ayo (Joy)”) were created from local influences, which you can find here. Opener ‘Sweet love’ and ‘Sexy’ are Afrobeat records, utilising the elements of the genre to create syrupy music. There’s also his trusted House genre on ‘All for love’, featuring South African singer Bucie. It’s a gem of a record, and in keeping with his local style. Only this time, it is exported to wider audiences.

Everyone was right. The spine of the project is Caribbean. Singles ‘Come closer’ ‘African bad gyal’, ‘Naughty ride’ and ‘Daddy yo’ are Island-ready records, fused with Nigerian pidgin English and simplistic songwriting dominant in global party records. Wizkid’s friendship with TY Dolla Sign pays off most especially on ‘Dirty wine’, an EDM-powered record produced by DJ Mustard.

Thematically, Wizkid focuses on love and his interaction with his ladies. Every record here is inspired by women, and throws light on his various interaction with them.

“Sounds from the Other Side” is beautiful music, which is simple in its creative direction and executed right. There’s enough material here to fuel wild parties around the world. Based on my first listen, this  well-crafted, one-dimensional pop dance project, is all about vibes than actual substance. And based on that, it is a win.

Rate and enjoy the new Wizkid who is in a different space and has a wider aim. He is growing his music, his fan base, and adapting for both his and our sake.