Wizkid’s “Made in Lagos” is a triumph but…- Dami Ajayi
Wizkid’s fourth album, Made in Lagos, acquired a mythical notoriety as a masterclass in postponement.
The problem was not the elusive quality of an album with a title so palpable, it was Wizkid’s teasing with tentative release dates.
The album, finally billed to be released earlier in October, had to be pushed yet again, this time, with good reason. The album, if released as per previous schedule, would have dropped smack into the #EndSARS protest.
Wizkid, in his understanding of his role as a public figure, chastised his colleague Reekado Banks, whose political incorrectness had him releasing a single (featuring Wizkid) in the middle of that public outcry against the Nigerian police.
Wizkid has grown in leaps and bounds since he put out his first album, Superstar. Easily Afrobeats biggest export, he has dropped an impressive roster of singles across the decade. His second album, Ayo, borrowed his first name to couch a body of work reflecting his dynamism in navigating between music genres. His third LP, Sounds from the Other Side, his first international album, even in retrospect, was a misstep—Wizkid offered a body of work obsessed with Caribbean rhythms, while paring down that milder mid-tempo shuffle called Afrobeats.
Made in Lagos, in principle, is the correction to that musical faux pas. The title is instructive, an assertion that casts Africa’s most fiery city in good light—which will definitely make Fela grin from the afterlife.
Of course, it’s been many years since Fela’s Buy Africa campaign and Wizkid is a different kind of trailblazer. His enduring gift while impressive is not unique: his ability to recreate that Afrobeat groove and meld it with Caribbean rhythms as well as influences from Rhythm and Blues.
Made in Lagos is comprised of 14 songs and spools 8 minutes short of an hour. Wizkid is supported by Burna Boy, Skepta, Damian Marley, H.E.R, TEMS and Terri, but stands alone on six tracks. P2J, the same producer who cranked out the phenomenal Brown Skin Girl is chief producer on the album, with additional productions from Juls, Sarz, Legendury Beatz, Sammy made it, Blaq Jezree, Kill September, Honter, Kofo and Saint Mino.
Call Made in Lagos a mid-tempo spool of sound production and you are not far from the truth. Wizkid has tamed his tenor and modulated it to a low-pitch delivery and this is the very nature of this album. Wizkid presumably singing low and slow, awash with dutiful rhythms drawn from Afrobeat, calypso, reggae and other Caribbean rhythms.
On Made in Lagos, Wizkid attempts to remake some of his most organic hit singles. However, he hardly hacks past glory, rather he is able to make an album that is part soothing and part sizzling. What gives the album an irresistible verve is a slow burn dutifully carried almost entirely by duets with Damian Marley (‘Blessed’), H.E.R (‘Smile’) and TEMS (‘Essence’).
A personal favourite is ‘Roma’ with Terri, which delivers a mild hip swing destined for club rotation. On this song, like on every other song, on this album, Wizkid flexes his most advanced skill: his ability to belt choruses with control, poise and panache.
Made in Lagos is part historical statement and part affectation. Even if Afrobeats was (partly) made in Lagos, it was christened in London—and this album reflects that international outlook in way that Sounds from the Other Side could not.
This may be the only triumph of this long-awaited album.