One of Africa’s biggest pop stars, Nigeria’s 27-year-old Wizkid just released his debut album under RCA Records. He ran last year with ‘One Dance’, his collaborative mega hit with Drake, which broke records when it became the first ever song to hit one billion streams on Spotify.
The album, which is titled Sounds from the Other Side, features American superstars such as Major Lazer, Trey Songz, Ty Dolla $ign, and of course Drake. The only African feature on the album is South African house vocalist Bucie, who brings a South African house flavour to the album on the salsa-infused track, ‘All For Love’. Bucie’s vocals and sultry isiZulu lyrics blend seamlessly with Wizkid’s pidgin inflections and ad-libs, making the track an interesting standout meeting of African influences.
Many may criticise Wizkid for only featuring only one African artist on the project, while also weighing his exposure to the global music market as an important opportunity for more African artists to shine. Perhaps he could have showed the world more of what he as an African has to offer, by featuring fellow artists from the continent.
When speaking to Ebro Daden on Beats 1 on Monday, Wizkid explained that the album was initially meant to be a free release. He referred to the album as an EP, containing mostly songs that he has worked on with American artists.
Despite the lengthy list of American features, Sounds from the Other Side certainly delivers on the iconic Afrobeat sound, while experimenting with genres like R&B, salsa, dancehall and hip-hop. Wizkid also explores other soundscapes like electro and house, while staying true to the Naija spirit that’s made him such a sought-after artist. Lyrically, he explores themes of love and having a great time, which sits well over his infectious club-ready production choices. This one’s more for a Friday night than a Sunday morning. A necessary heater for the winter.