Still haven't dropped a single in 2016. Sounds from the other side on the way! My best one yet! 🙏🏿🇳🇬
— Wizkid (@wizkidayo) August 17, 2016
We’re all collectively tired of hearing Wizkid tease the progress on project/projects he seems to have been working on for the past two years with no indications of possible release. The singer has been under pressure to update his catalog since the underwhelming reception of his Ayo sophomore in 2014. Yet 2015 only saw Wiz releasing two singles and promising the release of a highly anticipated Sounds from the Other Side EP and an untitled visual album—both of which have still not seen the light of day nearly 9 months into 2016. Instead, Wizkid has released refixes of Kent Jones’ summer hit, Don’t Mind, LL Cool J’s 1996 classic, Doing It and Young Thug’s Pick Up The Phone.
We get it, with Wiz at the cusp of an international crossover, these covers can serve as a sonic moodboard for his transition into the global market. The only problem is, though Wizzy’s melody is still in check, haphazard roll-out and lacklustre songwriting only highlight an obvious lack of direction of Wizkid as an artist and a brand.
As an artist, Wizkid is encumbered with the task of strategically positioning himself for a larger global audience. This explains why he’d latch onto both new age and classic American songs for covers while shouting out Gucci Mane, 2Chainz amongst other Yankee references—even though many Nigerians will never be able to relate. As a brand, however, Wizkid is an African artist, whose music must reflect his regional soundscape in more elements than merely singing in pidgin-English or throwing in some Yoruba lyrics for extra pizzazz. Sadly, this is what Wizkid and his management seem to be most oblivious of.
Wizkid has been lauded for an inherent versatility in the past, particularly, the American trap music texture of Shabba succinctly gleaned how easily Wiz could switch out of Afro-inspired sounds and still find sonic cohesion. However, the even stronger Western influences on his latest materials no longer hint an artist who can fit into any sonic space, but one trying to evolve into an international brand even if it means sacrificing a local fan base. We don’t want to be ones to call it, but we won’t be surprised to find that Wizkid’s many unreleased projects have been rotting away in development hell because they are all getting tweaked and reworked for his new Western fanbase.
The whole country proudly followed his rise to buzz-worthy international attention via Drake’s Ojuelegba and One Dance collaborations, trailed it through a tour with Chris Brown, a One Africa Music Fest headline, all the way to Shabba where heavyweights, Trey Songz, French Montana and Chris Brown are featured. In some way, we must admit, Wizkid has had his hands full hence his inability to come up with better materials to release. But from where we sit, it appears Wizkid seems to lack a clear blueprint for where his career is headed, even though he’s fairly certain about how far he wants to go.
One thing is certain, nonetheless. the Wizkid we knew is never coming back.