A strong review of Nigerian (Naija) albums
LABEL: EME Records
Year of release: 2011
With already paid dues in the music industry (Wizzy F Baby’s been kicking it since he was 13), featuring on numerous singles from Mr Capable to Mr Incredible and 5 4 singles (ok, “Wiz party” was a leaked bonus track) already dropped from one of the most anticipated 2011 albums, Banky W’s own Robin Wizkid has grown from being a side-kick to becoming one of the fastest rising stars in Nigerian music history.
Using his smooth vocals and youthful swag, he quickly warmed his way into those OAPs’ hearts that kept insisting on playing the same 5 songs all day. The label’s strategy was adept, dropping the album in mid-June to ensure that people wouldn’t get sick of hearing the same tracks over and over again and presenting the OAPs, DJs and fans with 12 fresh cuts that they could bump for the rest of the year into 2012.
The curtain raiser for SuperStar is the eKelly produced “Say My Name”, where Ayo Balogun takes a cue from Snoop Dogg, re-introducing himself as the main attraction and no longer a supporting cast (imagine a 2011 crooned “What’s My Name”).
‘Ojuelegba, Shitta/Axe my sista/My music travel no visa/Oya Axe your sista’ come through the speakers over some tight Masterkraft drum rolls. “No Lele” is a joint with a strong message and a strong beat; Wizzy narrates how he stayed determined and focused on the prize amidst obstacles and words of discouragement. ‘When dem tell u say u no go fit, my sister make u tell dem say No Lele’. We get to hear an auto-tuned Wizkid rapping with a Jamaican/Area boy infused accent on “Scatter The Floor”; a track fused with bass and jolts of synths made possible by Jay Sleek-y Sleeky. Wizkid may not be African Rapper No1 or even No10, but he’s better than I would have thought.
Did I ever mention how much I love talking drums? As soon as “Pakuromo” kicks in with its Fuji induced Poppy feel, you immediately feel like konko-ing below. Produced by Samklef, it’s a more upbeat selection heavy on the drums and female name-calling, where the drums drop off for a bit mid-song to let Wizkid exclaim, ‘The way you whine, whine, you blow my mind, mind’. It should get loads of spins in clubs and owanbes
Wizkid sounds almost as capable as Banky W on the reggae-d “Slow Whine” which should definitely get the fellas some grinding, dry humping and bootie shakes in the clubs. The catchy tune display the same high level of harmony shown by the two on previous collabos.
I love “Love My Baby” even though it wasn’t love at 1st listen …it has grown on me immensely (maybe seeing him perform the joint to his Mum did the trick) and I can’t seem to stop humming that cheesy hook. He belts out the lovey dovey words so sincerely and emotionally …he hit this one out of the park. This leads directly into the relaxing heartfelt 2010 single “Gidi Girl” where Wizkid expresses his feelings to his lady friend over some DJ Klem’s beats that feels more R&B than Reggae. Anyone who loved Mario’s “Let Me Love You” will definite put this on their playlist.
Brandy in hand, tom-tom in mouth, eyes staring at nothing in particular, headphones on ears, I suddenly realise that “Oluwa Lo Ni” is a gem of a track. Deep, Heartfelt, Inspirational …Wizkid reflects and praises God (without the aid of Auto-tune), counting his blessings and recounting his grass past. Jay Sleek’s perfect production gives the ear a clear path to Wizzy’s words by providing a backdrop of only conga drums and an electric guitar.
The next 2 tracks “Don’t Dull” and “Tease Me/Bad Guys” are already club anthems and huge party starters …If you don’t know them, go axe your mommy cos these bad guys are already everyone’s favourites. Wizkid, Banky W and Skales team up for the disappointing “EME Boyz” – expected something harder than this. The House themed “What You Wanna Do” is a fun track.
As soon as you hear Special Ed (it sounds like him) hyping at the beginning of Jay Sleek’s def beats, you know that “For Me” which features Wande Coal is a club banger! Unfortunately even with the similarity in the vocals, Wande Coal takes the shine on this one. Guess we’ve really missed his falsetto magic. It is worthy of many replays. Wish the production on this was a tad bit better though.
Up next is the controversial hit single “Holla @ Your Boy”. Whether jacked or not, truth be told he delivered a far better track than Se7en’s “Girls” which featured the Queen Bee herself. We might never be able to beat Korea in ping-pong but in music, yes boss! It’s probably the best track on the album (MEN! that Knighthouse’s beats)
There’s something about “Wad Up” which features D’Prince! Even though the lyrics are so elementary, it still has the right playful formula to refrain you from skipping the track. The line ‘If u don’t know me, Shut up / If u wan know me, wad up?’ is bada$$ but the nursery rhyme puts me on the fence like Humpty Dumpty on this one and the auto-tune is a bit over the top. On “Shoutout” Wizkid gives shout-out to his peeps for the album close-out. Track is what it is …an outro and an album filler at best.
With the party starting “Wizkid party” thrown in as a bonus joint, it’s pretty obvious that it’s gonna be a Wizkid themed party for the rest of the year, with the album boasting of over 10joints that can set any party ablaze.
Done with top-notch producers (Samklef really impressed moi) and a handful of features, Wizkid passes with flying colours “The 1st step is the hardest” stage in his musical career. His lyrics may sometimes lack that edge to make classic cuts but commercially he will be a runaway success …all it takes is a few listens and you would find tracks on it, you really like.
While some may see his RnB/reggae/dancehall/pop versatility as a marketing gimmick, it’s more the product of a multi-faceted young man who hasn’t entirely figured out he can be a musical genius.
Most of his songs won’t make you think, dream, cry, or fall in love, but they WILL move a party, and that’s no small thing.
Outstanding Tracks: Holla @ Your Boy, Don’t Dull, Love My Baby, Pakuromo, Oluwa Lo Ni, Slow Whine
Disappointing Tracks: EME Boyz
VOCAL DROPS Rating System
OPINION (Personal): 8/10
SKIP FACTOR: 8/10
THE VERDICT: 7.5/10
Wizkid often describes himself as the young Fela but there’s nothing even remotely approaching politics on “SuperStar”, neither is his lyrical prowess near the Abami Eda’s. Luckily, he does know how to work the stage like Fela and whether we like it or not, Wizkid is a very talented (though obviously developing) artist with a fantastic voice who makes simply decent music.
There is definitely enjoyment to be found on Wizkid’s debut album. “Superstar” is a tastefully-done Auto-Tuned take on an infused genre of RnB, Reggae and Dancehall, which will be catchy enough to keep people listening and dancing. Take my word for it, this album will get better with each listen.
Wizkid can now decide to either chase pop success and end up the answer to a trivia question, or continue to develop as an artist (especially lyrically) to truly become the Superstar like Fela.
Let’s all hope he chooses the latter, so that Nigerian and possibly Africa can have their own version of Chris Breezy (minus the woman battering). He certainly has the vocal range to create the true classic cuts we desire.
This album MAKES THE iPOD.