By Adigun Temitope Idealism
“If you don’t tell your story, people would tell it to suit their perspectives”
The production on “Made In Lagos” is extremely richly impressive and it is a plus to the selection of the featured artists.
Amidst the easing atmosphere in Nigeria after a nationwide three (3) weeks protest against police brutality that cut across other countries, which delayed the initial October 15th release date of “Made In Lagos,” Ayodeji Balogun popularly known as Wizkid has officially released the most anticipated fourth studio album on October 30th via his Starboy Label, Sony Music International and RCA Records.
The body of work which comes 3 years after his last album “Sounds From The Other Side, ” has been receiving lots of reviews locally and internationally.
In this 14-track body of work “Made In Lagos, ” Wizkid features some remarkable artists – Damian Marley, H.E.R, Burna Boy, Tems, Ella Mai, Skepta, Projexx, Toy Iwar, and his record label artist, Terri.
As the opinion of some critics, it is obvious that the new Wizkid has deviated from making music for an average Nigerian to infiltrating his sound into the international audience and the released of “Made In Lagos” is evidence.
With lots of agitations from Nigerians to artists for more theme-wise songs that would focus on socio-political issues, Wizkid maintained his age-long theme “Love and Sex,” which he had categorically said in several interviews that he wouldn’t change. Added that he can only get involved in physical agitation for a better Nigeria than using his songs.
The Cover artwork
Contrary to people’s opinion that changing of the cover artwork is not necessary and that the previous cover is better and tells the real story of “Made In Lagos” than the new cover.
When you look at the old cover judiciously, it explains the title of the album “Made In Lagos” from the perspective of a body of work filled with ingredients of Nigeria/Lagos vibes, melodies, and components, which is not in most of the songs therein. I believe that warranted the change in the cover.
The new cover artwork which reflects Wizkid portrait reflecting being stressed explains in another perspective what “Made In Lagos” means. In this regard, it means there was a boy born and raised in a very stress-filled city called Lagos in Nigeria but eventually turned out to be a global superstar.
In other words, the first cover artwork if used, songs must reflect Lagos’ vibes all through but the new cover artwork represents a boy raised in Lagos, Nigeria but now a global star that can fuse sounds from his fatherland to other international sounds.
Track by track review
Wizkid started the journey of the album on a reggaeton with “Reckless,” through a heavy baseline and a smoothing saxophone at the background of his storytelling voice. The atmosphere and the intensity of vocal slashes in the background are awesome at the intro and would give the listeners an anticipating spirit to get more. The sound of the track is very clean and his energy to the instruments is electrifying. The beats, drums, and saxophone helped to solidify Wizkid statement that they can try but they can never beat him. Kudos to the instrumentation and the keys are plus to the arrangement of the song. His use of different vocal structures is constantly evolving and his ability to switch up flows gave a mystical texture to the sound.
The intersection between Burna Boy and Wizkid gives a smooth harmony to “Ginger.” Burna Boy’s intro with a very smooth Afrobeat and simple melody would keep the listeners attached to the track. This is one of the collaborations that would go down in history. Their vocal structure, the call & response style is an assurance that they are in it together. The instrumentation and the vocal structure would give listeners the opinion of what modernize production techniques should be. Burna Boy’s bridge gives the outro an electrifying mood and Wizkid’s ability to switch flows worth it.
A good Wizkid’s fan is aware of his synergy with Skepta from their previous song “Bad Energy” and it is also evident in this track “Longtime.” Skepta’s smooth verse at the beginning of the song further reveals chemistry between them and gives the Afropop tune a comfortable foundation and Wizkid’s melodious blend of Afro-Caribbean vibe would remind the listeners of SFTOS style. This track is a very clean piece of production from Bankuli.
Wizkid’s stress-free life comes on board again in “Mighty Wine.” The track is a party starter and Wizkid was on a serious cruise control level. The inclusion of the rolling drums in the background to make a resounding bounce on people’s mind gives the song memory of its own. He sounds effortless and his vocal expansion layout plays out well.
The comfortability in Damian Marley’s sound in “Blessed” gives the art an incredible foundation and Wizkid’s authority in his sound and vocal display balance the track. This track celebrates life’s blessing in wholesomeness.
The lead single, “Smile” wasn’t special to the Nigerian audience when it was first released until Wizkid released the heart-warming visual that featured his kids, beautiful Yoruba women, and Suya. The beauty of the song comes to play through H.E.R’s vocal lines and strength. H.E.R’s vocals is an upliftment to the mood of the listeners. The instrumentation and vocal expansion of the two singers electrify the listeners’ mood.
The guitar and the general instrumentation in “Piece of Me” which features Ella Mai, brings the beauty of this song. No doubt, the track is good experimentation of Wizkid’s RnB approach and the mixture of the well-measured drums and guitar lines creates a good disposition. Though the track is short it worth listening to.
The confidence Wizkid exudes in “No Stress” and the accompanying instrumentation makes the sound different. The track is a poetic explanation of Wizkid’s handling of women and the effect he has on them.
The change of pace in “True Love” featuring Tay Iwar and Projexx gives the sound an edge. The Afro-Carribbean sound in the track from Tay Iwar and Wizkid complement the track and give it an incredible hook. The project brings the Jamaican flair to the sound and it is a good vocal display and synchronization.
The combination of Afrobeats and RnB in “Sweet One” gives the track an easy atmosphere. The production level is very high and it is soothing to the ears. Certainly, Wizkid has found love in the use of saxophones in his songs and his continuous usage of it blends the mood. The instrumentation fills the vacuum of what the lyrics in this track should have done.
The refreshing mood Wizkid creates in “Essence” with Tems would inarguably command listeners’ ears and senses. Tems’ voice makes the vocals of this track enthralling and the approach they both used in the vocal lines make the harmonic level favourable enough for the instrumentation. Tems’ high vocal lines pushed Wizkid’s delivery. It is one of the best collaborations in the body of work. The call and response and the switching of flows are well balanced.
When I’ve lost hope in getting a club vibe song in the body of work, Wizkid team up with Terri to instill the vibe in “Roma.” This track is verification for Terri’s growth as an artist. The good balance Afrobeats and guitar riff displays are awesome in this track. Wizkid gave Terri enough space to display his vocal lines and sound that an average listener would think the song is Terri’s own.
In London produced track “Gyrate,” Wizkid gives credit to hustlers, commending them. Though the song is not outstanding in the body of work the vibe and his merging of Afrobeats with Reggae are appealing to the instrumentation.
There is no better way of ending a body of work than what Wizkid did in “Grace” by recounting what he went through to be where he is now. The keys and instrumentation are very intriguing. The track is a declaration of how far he has gone in life, this he said in this line “Dem No Fit To Run My Race.”
“Made In Lagos” is a reinforcement of who Wizkid is, where he comes from, and what he stands for. The album is his way of solidifying that no matter how far or big he is, the world must know where he came from, where he was raised – Lagos, Nigeria. He is telling the story of a boy raised amidst the madness of his city, Lagos in Nigeria, and still doing excellently well globally with his art.
The production and sequencing of the album are impressive and Wizkid’s selection of the featured artists is methodical. He had great chemistry with all the featured artists.
His infusion of different genres of sounds – Souls, Reggae, Dancehall, Agrobeats, Jazz shows Wizkid’s level of versatility.