|Wizkid at his UK listening party for “Sounds From The Other Side” mixtape.
The most interesting part of the push for international recognition is how Nigerian musicians (Wizkid and Davido) have two timelines to work with. While they are under contract and pressure to chase distant markets, they still have an obligation to maintain their local fan base.
Abandoning the delights and support back home for a more global appeal has never been the true way to go. Every artist needs a core supporting market and fan base, no matter the expansion achieved or career heights aspired to.
Never leave home.
The past 6 months have had Wizkid taking his focus off Nigeria to create music for his Sony Music affiliation. Wizkid who was signed in 2016 to a recording deal, was fulfilling terms of that contract with the recording and release of “Sounds from the Other Side.”
The core of his work had been away from Nigeria, as he split his time between the UK and US to create and promote the project. Wizkid held album listening parties in London and New York, two global music capitals serving the Americas and Europe. That’s where the focus was. All of his press tour revolved around these two countries, as he breezed through the media circuit as part of his roll-out plan.
But the release of “Sounds from the Other Side,” ensured that he has freed himself some time to come home. And since he has been home, he isn’t taking a rest. He is working on new music.
Much of the conversation among a number of fans have been complaints about how the music on Wizkid’s project do not reflect the music back home. A number of fans have expressed their disinterest in the music due to its core Caribbean influences on many records. Wizkid incorporated Island sounds and interpreted them with local influences for the record.
The opinion of these fans are valid. Wizkid is after all, a local hero who has embraced and dictated the pace of local sound structure. From his base in Lagos, Starboy has ridden every available wave in Africa to create value for fans. “Sounds from the Other Side” took away that focus for all the right reasons.
While Wizkid pursued his international campaign, the soundscape in Nigeria has shifted. The dominance of the mellow, High-life tune with a signature Ghanaian synth (also known as the ‘Pon pon’ sound) became a thing. Runtown, Tekno, Ycee and Davido are examples of artists who have enjoyed success with the new sound by creating local music with a formula. This development, while it has provided Nigerian music with a new sound structure, has also ensured that the tastes of fans have shifted.
For Wizkid to operate at this level, he has decided to jump on the wave. New song ‘Medicine’, produced by Masterkraft fits in perfectly with the ‘Pon pon’ formula. It is the first time Wizkid is releasing material on this wave. The record talks about the usual: A lady and her assets, and how a man wants to jump in and kill her with enjoyment. It’s a classic ‘Pon pon’ jam, one that requires a video and a couple of radio spins to penetrate playlists.
But that is not all, according to his activity on Twitter, Wizkid spent two days in Lagos recording an album, and he has plans to flood the country with the music. ‘Medicine’ is just the start of it, and there are collaboration projects with Tiwa Savage and 2face Idibia which will be released in quick succession.
It’s a tour de force for Wizkid. One that is designed to cater to those fans on the fringes, who are doubtful about Wizkid and his international campaign. Starboy is dropping ‘Naija’ music on all of us, and he is doing it with abandon.
We have all heard “Sounds from the Other Side.” It’s time to listen to sounds from the Naija side.