Georgetown University professor of sociology, Michael Eric Dyson, in 2019 wrote a book on Jay-Z called Made In America. It’s foreword was written by producer Pharrell Williams. In like manner, Kanye West and Jay-Z’s album Watch the Throne has “Made in America” on track 11.
The title of Wizkid’s 14 track studio album (Made In Lagos) is a similar turn of phrase, although not so creative in the sense that it points in different directions.
But Star Boy should perhaps be commended for delaying the album’s release as he joined others to protest police brutality with the #EndSARS movement.
With only a few reservations, Wizkid still brought home the goods to his fans.
This song has a highlife feel to it as Star Boy laments about betrayals from people he has helped; people who bite the fingers that feed them. But having soldiered through the odds, everyone needs him and he has to sing “Amazing Grace” and play on his banjo.
Wizkid is comfortably sitting on a pedestal of success that he could look back and see how far he had come. This is the more reason why everyone is asking for him. Though they may try, these imaginary enemies cannot “collect what Baba God destined for me” he croons.
He slips into Jamaican patois accent to deliver the following lines: “Dem try but dem never scare nobody/Bad man like me, no fear nobody/ When you play my rhythm, omo guess what mammy?”
The song signals a good opening for the whole album.
This has the laid back afro groove that is typical of Burna Boy. It’s a slow party jam that celebrates being an alpha male even when one is being misunderstood or underestimated. Wizkid displays his nightlife chutzpah; drinking, smoking and dancing with beautiful people that dance to the music sweetly like sweet wine.
Burna Boy boasts how he moves the crowd in the sense that everywhere he goes, he pulls people to the floor that he confesses; “I no be babalawo, I’m just a singer.”
The song is a celebration of inducing substances to get the ginger’ so as to party and ‘shayo’ till daylight. It is bound to have clubgoers on their feet.
This song is reminiscent of “Bad Energy (Stay Far Away)” that Wizkid sang with Skepta in 2018. Except this isn’t about the city of Lagos, but a woman. The metaphors illustrate two young men celebrating the loves of their lives. Though the previous song ‘Ginger” explores a general party scene, this one exudes the charms of a personal party.
Skepta’s verse is about the most poetic in the song with his versality laid out on the double rhymes technique he orchestrates at the beginning of his verse. The dialogue between him and his lover celebrates love in its purest form. The assumed lover texts back saying she doesn’t want games.
There’s an allusion to the ‘90s American hip hop group Fugees consisting of Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill and Pras Michel in the fifth line; “Ready or Not, man I’m with the Fugees.”
Skepta’s prowess as a street-smart dude, who could take care of his girl and still get along with friends, shows in the following lyrics:
I met her on the High Street, she too sweet
I say “What’s good?” She told me “You’ll see.”
Said she’s living life like the movie
I said “Come and teach me, you know I got the school fees.”
“Ready or Not”, man I’m with the Fugees
So where your friends at? I’m trying to get high
I got the jet pipe, smile on my face when she texts back
Said she don’t wanna play games; I respect that!
No lies, man I’m telling you the truth
Everything man when I pull up with the goons…
Wizkid runs with the flow of the song espousing his notion of love thus; “Till we make the neighbours know/Nobody fine pass you tonight/Say na me and you go dey till we no get time.”
The baseline and a few kicks on keyboard gives the song a bluesy feel that falls in line with the affection both artists are expressing on the song. Wizkid talks about the pricelessness of the true love he has for his girl, that’s why he wishes to make love to her till the neighbours get to hear them.
Wizkid code-switches between English and Yoruba to assure his love that his feelings are guaranteed, and enemies will be jealous. But they will be in their personal movie like the Hollywood movie director Quentin Tarantino. He enjoys that she calls him a ‘bad man’ and he encourages her to show her assets because nothing surpasses what he feels for her. The slow grind in the song makes it an ideal song for private listening.
This is one for the dance floor because of the heavy kicks in the background. Wizkid keeps to the theme of adoring a dancing female that knows how to ‘rotate’ in a way that causes a lot to flicker through his mind, after all, he doesn’t mind to ‘manya’ or go crazy for her. He only wants to dance and be with her because she will give him ‘Mighty Wine.’
“Blessed” is the most conscious song on the whole album. Borrowing the vocal cords of Damian Marley, son of the legendary Bob Marley, the socioeconomic and political undertones of the song is heard from the sampled voice of the young girl hawking ‘cold water’ and ‘cold mineral.’
The saxophone keeps the percussions of the song even. Of course it has a reggae rhythmicality. The two artists take turn to talk about their experiences under pressure and their wish for their children not to suffer the same. This is why they feel blessed, having looked how much they have achieved, and it’s only reasonable that they let go of the bad memories and celebrate the present.
“I keep it nappy,” croons the younger Marley, “and I do what keeps me happy and nobody can deny me that I’m blessed”. It’s a feel good song celebrating the present.
Wizkid features H.E.R in one of the love songs in the album, but this sounds like a filler. It concentrates on the promises lovers make to each other when in a relationship. But most importantly, the theme of this song extends to the next song Piece of Me featuring Ella Mai.
Sexual prowess is being celebrated in the song and Ella Mai makes a whole lot of difference in her poetic rendition and seductive voice: “…come and get it, come and get it baby/Oh my love…make me drip like the ocean…I know you never gonna leave me… you can come and get a piece.” Lovemaking remains the centre of the song and both acts demonstrate that in their lyrics.
It’s another love song concerning a pretty girl that doesn’t want to be stressed, other than to be made love to. The album could do without this song. It is very repetitive of ideas explored in previous songs. It even copies the rhythm of Amerie’s “1 Thing.”
The song is a breath of fresh air because of its African rhythms and sounds different from the previous love songs in Made in Lagos. The duo of Tay Iwar and Projexxx bring a call and response pattern to the song celebrating unconditional love, sincerity and the longing between lovers.
The metaphor of lovers being prisoners of their making is well expressed in the manner it’s celebrated in Sweet One. Wizkid pleads with a lover not to forsake his love when he needs her. But he claims the feeling is mutual because his lover says “yes to me,” and “nobody gives her love like that.” She says she will never lie to him and would make love till the break of dawn.
The breakout singer of “Try Me”, Tems delivers on this song. The song expresses a mature longing between two people who have fallen out of love after a long relationship. But one of the lover assures the other, there’s nobody needed to fulfil his/her needs, whether spiritual or physical.
Wizkid sings that if any of them parts from the relationship, both wouldn’t survive it. A lot of body confidence is expressed in the song in the sense that Tems croons “You no need no other body/ Only you fit hold my body.”
The uncrowded beat shows the mastery of the artists to hold onto their rhythms while expressing trust in a relationship.
Though featuring Terri, this song sounds like the filler song of the album. What in local parlance could be called; “Give the people what they want.” Wizkid tries to indigenise the song and implicates a love-girl that carries her shoulders high, but he pleads to her to relax and enjoy the gbedu.
The rap-like flow and the spontaneous change in rhythm makes it a summer kind of song. It reverts to the earlier celebration of partying till dawn. Wizkid advocates his hosts to gyrate and forget their worries. The saxophone playing in the background is the masterstroke of the track. He hails those who could hustle and party at the same time, which after all is the goal of life.
This is a song of assurance despite what others think. Wizkid sings “Steady I dey my lane/As I run my race”. It’s an expression of confidence and calls for people to be themselves and be better than the expectation of others. Wizkid talks about standing tall and being about time and money, a kind of hustling anthem.
“Grace” expresses that “people suffer but keep smile for face” which rings true of Fela Kuti’s “Schuffering and Schmiling”, except it isn’t political. It is a motivational song. It is disappointing that a word like “Grace” isn’t explored for its spiritual dimension.
The notion of grace, sin, fall, forgiveness and redemption would have nailed the song, instead Wizkid glorifies a “bad bitch” to “tell him all is okay”. If only a metaphysical angle is explored, it would have been a perfect finale for the Made in Lagos album. In spite of this disappointment, the album will have its rounds in the clubs and private gatherings.
The title originality is questioned in the manner Nas calls out Jay-Z on “Ether”, concerning the title of his album “Blueprint” because KRS-One already had a song of the same title.
The whole album is moving but doesn’t have the cohesion of his earlier albums. Aside three songs that try to philosophically look at the realities of everyday life, the album is a bunch of love songs that are not sequentially arranged; lacking a beginning, middle, and end.
It is also disappointing that an album that carries the name of one of Africa’s most gritty and harshest cities to live in doesn’t dwell on this theme. One asks what is Made in Lagos about the album? The street realities and the crucibles expected in a Lagos-themed album is totally absent. It’s as though the songs and the album title were separately chosen.
But the album still yields a good listen. There are nuggets of songs that will at least not only distract Nigerian minds from the political instability, but will console listeners on the losses suffered in this pestilential COVID-19 year.
Verdict: Two and a half stars