This album is a good way to start your evenings. Made in Lagos is the perfect substitute for your mood playlists. It definitely isn’t an album you can casually refer to as ‘one of those albums’.
The first time this writer heard about Made in Lagos was in 2018 and that was in an interview with DJ Samtex. After the first teaser, Wizkid went on to give even more teasers. But even those who resigned to fate stayed up late last night waiting for 11:11pm.
As much as we needed this album to drop on the 15th of October 2020, October happened— we will never forget. The #EndSARS protest was and still is a reminder of our own failings as a country. Wizkid understanding the times joined the protests and moved his release date.
For Made in Lagos, as much as it needed to be THAT album, it also needed to be reflective of who Wizkid had become— his level, his aspirations and a reminder of home. Just as Superstar (2010) set the tone for his generation and subsequent ones, this project needed to transition Wizkid into his next decade.
As we wait for a more complete review of the project, here are my thoughts from my first listen:
1. Change of album cover art
Although we might not know the basis behind it, we see that the album cover was changed from the colorful appraisal of Lagos State to a photo of Wizkid in a simple yet stylish outfit. This writer thinks the reason for the change is due to the recent happenings in Lagos. To romanticise the State after the loss at Lekki Toll Gate might not have been the best move. The album cover brought sexy back— love to see it.
2. The era of judging albums by singles is gone
With the fans Wizkid has had from his “Superstar” days to date, Wizkid has had a support system that guaranteed that nearly every song is a hit. Thanks to the FC, nearly every Wizkid single/feature on Apple Music has a star behind it.
Just like “Wonderful” did to Burna Boy’s Twice as Tall, it was somewhat hard to know the theme/direction Wizkid was going with his album. The only thing we could decipher was that Wizkid had pivoted already.
Made in Lagos makes the impressive Sounds From The Other Side seem like the beta version of a carefully designed application. This time, the album feels at peace with the saxophones, bass drums and the guitar riffs that line it. The project has bits and pieces of Wizkid’s influences merged with near insane cohesion. It feels like picking every afrobeats sub-genre and merging everything into one piece making sure they do not go out of sound and out of plan.
This writer feels Wizkid understood the criticisms that came with the producer fuelled project— Soundman Vol. 1 and took lessons from listeners outside his niche fan base to properly organise the album.
Songs like “Reckless”, “True Love”, “Essence”, and “Smile”, show that Wizkid understands he has grown and there’s increased pressure to make more sonically balanced music. Those songs are exceptional.
3. It might’ve been “made” in Lagos but it doesn’t belong to Lagos.
I think one of the brilliant things Wizkid did with the rollout of the singles from the album was informing listeners, especially in Nigeria that it was— from Lagos to the world, NOT for lagos to the world.
Made in Lagos has something for the UK, Caribbean, and Nigerian markets. Also, songs with H.E.R and Ella Mai shows that Wizkid also wants a bit of the American market which is a ripe and well thought out. If Sounds From The Other Side was created to soften the market, Made in Lagos will be the album that penetrates the market.
4. The lyrics or vibes debate
Change is a constant, musically and in life. As the years go by, we see listener preferences change. In 2019, the Nigerian sound changed and this writer feels this might have crested the need for increased lyrical content in Wizkid’s mind.
We find this lyricism in tracks like “Smile” and “Blessing”. In those tracks, you feel Wizkid has got the writing thing on lock. However, on this project is it’s not all lyrics, Wizkid also brings his vibes. However, for all the merits of Wizkid’s trademark vibes routine, this writer thinks the project could have done with more lyrical songs.
5. Hit music and longevity
Time they say is of the essence and for this reason, some people might not necessarily have time to digest this project properly. A very noticeable thing about recent Wizkid music is that you actually need to consciously marinate yourself in them. The palettes of foreign audiences and new fans will lap up this music more quickly than the guy who just finished chanting “Ojuelegba” last week at the protest grounds. This is largely due to his change in sound— we are all still in the adaptation phases.
As important as hit songs are to Nigerian fans, Made in Lagos does not feel like a project that readily offers you one hit song. Although there are definitely standout tracks, it is a complete thematic experience. You must absorb the project in oneness to really see through Wizkid’s eyes.
This album is a good way to start your evenings. Made in Lagos is the perfect substitute for your mood playlists. It definitely isn’t an album you can casually refer to as “one of those albums”. To get the gist, you must dedicate time to listening to the project as a full body of work rather than in parts. There is something for you in it, of that, I am convinced.