From chasing beats at Modogg’s studio to collaborating with Drake on three records, the story of Wizkid is an inspirational tale that would resonate for many years to come. Today, is the day of a winning Wizkid, who recently released his mixtape, “Sounds From The Other Side.” And as the reviews come in, we understand just one thing:
Wizkid has grown in every possible way. His artistry is better. His performances carry much verve, his celebrity is at an all-time high, and when he makes moves, they turn out to be heavy-hitters.
Compare this to his 2014 project “Ayo (Joy)” and the situation surrounding the project. Wizkid still had everything going for him then, only that he needed to fly higher than Banky W’s label, Empire Mates Entertainment can carry him. He understood he was a bigger artist, and had designs on more markets than what could be found on the African continent. And that’s why he was restless. He had clashes with the record label, and dropped a contractual album to clear himself of the label.
That album was commercially successful, but critically bashed. Laden with pop singles, the album was roundly criticised for lyrical deficiency, the lack of a concept, and there were numerous complaints about its cohesion. But “Ayo (Joy)” was commercially successful, selling tremendously for over two years. Critically it also gave Nigeria ‘Ojuelegba’, a beast of a single, which drew Drake in and gave Wizzy supporting credentials to embark on this international campaign.
“This young man, my little brother from Ojuelegba was meant for this. He was meant to take over the world. I knew it like I know my name. And I'm honoured that God chose me to play a small part in his journey to the top. And by God's grace, may the rest of his years be the best of his years.” Banky W wrote on Instagram.
Everything is different now. “Sounds from the Other Side” meets Wizkid at a very dissimilar point in his career when compared to 2014. He has three records with Drake, has received a Grammy nomination, won Billboard awards, and is notably recognized as the best in Africa.
It’s true that in recent years, the Nigerian music industry has broken glass ceilings and increased the bar for what true success in this space really is. Where previously, pop stars could hold on to dominance on the continent as a medal of superiority, these days, things are markedly different. There is a growing wave and obsession about taking our traditional pop sounds to global audiences, and breaking it in into different markets. Wizkid is at the fore of that movement. And that’s why “Sounds From The Other Side” is the way it is.
It is designed for a broader audience. Conceptually, the entire project is about a guy expressing his love to a girl in various ways. Whether it is the mushy delight of ‘All for love’, or the raunchy imagery contained in ‘Dirty wine’, it holds on to that narrative and runs with it. “Ayo (Joy)” didn’t have that.
There’s also the growth in sound quality. Wizkid’s focus on the international scene required that he made some alterations to his music. And that’s why production on this project is diverse.
At 40-minutes long, “Sounds from the Other Side” is surprisingly cohesive. Through the mixtape’s 12 tracks, Wizkid weaves in and out of Afrobeat, EDM, R&B, House and dancehall.
These genres were the work of production team involving music makers specialized in various genres. African producers Sarz, Del B, Spellz, worked alongside Dre Skull, DJ Mustard, and Major Lazer to birth the project. And it is reflected in the music.