Born Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun in the Lagos Metropolitan Area, Wizkid has made more than just a name for himself in recent years. Nigeria’s favourite StarBoy released his third studio album entitled Sounds From The Other Side on July 13, 2017.
The twelve-track album pays the perfect homage to Wizkid’s forever globally expanding audience, with the project hosting features from Drake, Trey Songz, Chris Brown, TY Dolla $ign, Major Lazer and Bucie.
After signing a contract with RCA records in February, Wizkid strategically released “Sweet Love” the following day to give a nod to his African roots and to establish his recognition across the continent. The track features reggae inspired vocals characteristic of the genre, and along with the relaxed drawl and pacifically lyrical chorus, oxymoronically compliments the track’s percussive afrobeats sound.
“Sweet Love” is one of several tracks from Wizkid’s repertoire to fuse global sounds, which in this case is heard predominantly through the instrumental selection and rhythmic manipulation. Using syncopated guitar strums reminiscent of a traditional reggae accompaniment, the track instead interprets this in an innovative way by double strumming and by using the feature against a livelier BPM.
“Sweet Love” is not the sole track from the album to generate aural interest. Although the melodic motifs played on saxophone create a redefined sound for the track, it is “Nobody” which provides the catchiest of melodic intervals. Frolicking around between A3, A3#, D4 and the occasional C4# leading into the latter, the relatively simple ornamentation creates a hauntingly beautiful audio.
The founder and pioneer of Starboy Entertainment collaborated for the most part of the singles released as part of Sounds From The Other Side. Close friends Drake and Chris Brown provided vocals for “Come Closer” and “African Bad Gyal” respectively and Major Lazer featured on “Naughty Ride“.
“Daddy Yo” was released in December of 2016 and provided a more globally commercial dance sound to the predominantly afropop/afrobeats EP. The perfect opportunity to freestyle azonto to, the track features a dembow rhythm throughout. Considering the current trend to exploit dancehall as much as possible in contemporary urban music, the single was hugely successful and continues to be so, with the release of the full album.
One track that is sure to be blasting at Notting Hill Carnival this August is “All For One” which is Latin inspired from start to finish. Opening with keys repetitively delineating four chords, the improvised vocal melody sets the tone before a sforzando introduction to the first verse.
A walking bassline features throughout, making it impossible not to groove along to. Muffled cowbells play the 3:2 con clave rhythm, a musical trinket with a rich cultural history which has united Africa and Latin America for centuries – sending messages or ‘codes’ (claves) between the continents.
Musical inspirations from fellow contemporaries include: Maleek Berry, Akon, Sean Paul, Tinie Tempah, and Pharrell, the latter whom Wizkid also considers a style influence – combining traditional African pieces with urban fashion.
The StarBoy has stated that “[he] wouldn’t mind making a record with Rihanna”. This may not be too far a delusion considering the global impact that he continually imposes. This September will see the second Annual Ghana Music Awards hosted in the UK for which Wizkid is nominated for African Artiste of The Year. Alongside him in the running are fellow Nigerians Runtown, Tekno, and Mr Eazi, and Ugandan Eddy Kenzo.
Find out the results on September 16 and, until then, make sure to support Wizkid by purchasing Sounds From The Other Side available on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, and Google Play, in addition to following the StarBoy on his website, IG, Twitter, and Facebook.
Words by Olga Maher