After multiple postponements and three years of teasers, legendary Nigerian Grammy-winner, Wizkid released his groundbreaking fourth studio album and fifth solo body of work, ‘Made In Lagos.’
Here are 3 reasons why Wizkid’s ‘Made In Lagos (Deluxe)’ makes sense as a strategy [Pulse Album Review]
The album also aligns with Wizkid’s rebrand in his ‘graceful years' as 'Big Wiz.'
The 14-track album came after an uncertain run for Wizkid, which included the poor Soundman Vol. 1. Many listeners didn’t know what to expect, but ‘Smile’ featuring H.E.R, a risque choice for a single, offered some respite and hope.
When the album finally dropped on October 30, 2020, certain cynics and members of rival stan bases were desperate to label it ‘trash’ instead of ‘different.’
But in reality, Made In Lagos was - and still is - a good album. Critically, it didn’t tick all the boxes that distinguish great albums. For example, Wizkid’s songwriting was markedly improved, but it was still defined by vibes.
But sonically, ‘Made In Lagos’ is an excellently A&Red body of work, which deftly played on and amplified Wizkid’s strengths as a 10-year veteran of the African music industry, with influences from across the global black musical landscape, without taking unnecessary creative/sonic risks that could expose certain artistic flaws.
The sonic excellence of the album made optimists overlook its flaws and over the past 10 months, ‘Made In Lagos’ has undoubtedly become Africa’s No. 1 album, with no competition in sight. This run has also propelled Wizkid onto record-breaking, chart-topping stratospheres.
‘Essence’ currently sits at No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100, thanks to proper creative marketing by RCA and a timely remix, featuring Justin Bieber, after the record had reached No. 54 by itself.
The album also aligns with Wizkid’s rebrand in his ‘graceful years.’ 10 months post-release and perhaps a little belatedly, Wizkid released a deluxe version to the album, on August 27, 2020. It features Justin Bieber and Buju. It was also meant to feature Bella Shmurda, but reported label issues prevented that from happening.
Here are three thoughts on why a ‘Made In Lagos Deluxe’ makes sense;
1.) Wizkid had to do something with all the songs he recorded
Before and after Wizkid released ‘Made In Lagos,’ he took out a space in London and then Ghana, where everybody who matters in Nigerian music - artists and producers - paid him a visit and worked with him. Several sources have revealed to Pulse that ‘Made In Lagos’ era is also the first time that Wizkid has been significantly open to creative help and rightly so.
When Sarz visited Loose Talk Podcast in 2017, he told Osagie Alonge, Ayomide Tayo and Steve Dede that Wizkid has a stash of songs that his crew calls “Hard drive records.” Great records that might never see the light of day. In London and Ghana, Wizkid expanded his hard drive collection so incredibly that some claim that Big Wiz could produce an Amapiano album and another project with Burna Boy without breaking a sweat.
As is peculiar to Wizkid, he has continued to record with the hunger of a rookie. Coming from nothing, it feels like Wizkid’s fear of going back to nothing is his greatest inspiration. That’s why he works harder than anything.
2.) Consolidating the home front
When Burna Boy launched onto the big stage in 2018 with Outside, he came back to the home front with ‘Killin Dem,’ ‘On The Low’ and ‘Gbona,’ which became major hits. But by 2019 and then 2020, when he released Twice As Tall, he neglected the home front to remain laser focused on winning the Grammy, which he won.
But while he was away, people were doing major things on the home front. He didn’t realize it, but there’s a reason why ‘Kilometer,’ a certified party-starter, has so far failed to really become a smash hit. In 2021, Wizkid has risen once again in European and American reckoning. Every week between March and July 2021, ‘Made In Lagos’ got an endorsement tweet from a major American celebrity.
‘Essence’ has also become a chart-topper, which looks set to crack the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, all things being equal. ‘Made In Lagos Deluxe’ is a way to consolidate the home front while he pillages Europe and the Americas. ‘Anoti’ sounds like a smash hit from the off.
‘Mood’ has Buju, so it will be a digital success on streaming platforms - especially Apple Music and Spotify. The need to hold down to home front is also why Bella Shmurda was set to be on the Deluxe, before he was shelved for reported reasons.
3.) Sustaining ‘Made In Lagos’ for more commercial success and Grammy season buzz
‘Made In Lagos’ has risen to No. 58 on the Billboard 200. The highest chart position for a Nigerian album on the chart is No. 54, by Burna Boy’s ‘Twice As Tall.’ With a deluxe version and surging success of ‘Essence,’ ‘Made In Lagos’ could rise even further on the charts. But more importantly, the sustenance and the high-chart positions seem targeted at Grammy season reckoning.
Eligibility for Grammy 2022 closes in four days - August 31, 2021 - and Wizkid and RCA/SONY simply want to close it strongly. Burna Boy, his friend, has also interestingly chosen to release his album outside the eligibility year, which began on September 1, 2020. This isn’t dissimilar to how Angelique Kidjo chose to release her album outside the year in review in 2020, despite how Mother Nature was ready in 2020.
Several high-ranking sources in the Academy - past and present - have revealed to this writer that as much as Wizkid’s successful crossover with ‘Essence’ stands him in great stead to likely sweep the Global Music Album and Global Music Performance categories, it’s important that the music maintains strong African essence, that tickles the fancy of white members, who vote in that category.
With a Justin Bieber remix for ‘Essence,’ and the charting at No. 16 on the Hot 100, the record could get a Record of The Year, as American music capitalists seek to give Afrobeats a breakthrough across the atlantic. While the record is an Afro-pop record, it could also get nominated in the Urban Contemporary R&B Category.
For Americans, that record will likely sound more R&B than pop. In the same vein ‘Made In Lagos’ could get Album of The Year and Urban Contemporary album nods, outside the Global Music categories. But a lot will depend on how high ‘Essence’ rises.
Winning is of course another issue entirely. The stage is set for Grammy babies like Billie Eilish and Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak) to battle the current darling of American music capitalism, Olivia Rodrigo, who seems like the inevitable winner of Best New Artist and Album of The Year.
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