Wizkid Ayo Balogun just released his second album titled AYO (meaning joy). Considering the politics of music in the Nigerian music industry coupled with the polarizing view of Wizkid’s brand of music/ (personality), this was one album review I definitely wanted to put out. To put things in perspective, Wizkid’s freshman album “Superstar” revolutionized pop music in the Nigerian music scene and I was curious how this album would play out. Enough of the small talk, lets proceed.
- Jaiye Jaiye (feat Femi Kuti) – Wizkid’s most colorful track, which was put out in the past year (also my personal favorite). This track showcases everything it means to be African (and Nigerian). The great Femi from the Kuti music dynasty added color and class to this track. I like its position as the welcoming track on this album. It gives you a glimpse into the soul of the album (8.7/10).
- Show you the money – This track has a weird feel to it. It slowly wears on you. An up-tempo track with Wiz’s usual cliché rhymes but the trance-like effect of the instrumental should overcome the short-comings of the lyrics. Other than that, nothing special….though the beat gets it! (7.0/10).
- In my bed – Another typical Wizkid product. Primarily made up of staccato tunes meshed with peaks and troughs of vocals and breaks. It also has that Mzanzi trance feel to it. Of particular interest is his mention of some recognizable political personalities. I see this as a hit in the clubs. But I can’t get this feeling from my head that this song mirrors “show you the money” (7.5/10).
- Mummy mi – Which Nigeria album would be complete without the typical mummy-thank-you-for-all-track? This track does justice to his mummy. “I will buy you Ferrari”, “I will love you forever”, “I will be there for you”, “I will do anything for you”. A befitting song for our mums (7.4/10).
- Ojuelegba – Legendary beats is a beast!!!!!! A slow tempo track (and with shekpe in the system, the possibilities are limitless). A rags-to-riches song – though more like an inside story, those who know his roots and early days should understand his awe of how life turned out for him. He summed it up thus: “I can’t explain”. This is one of the best tracks on this album (8.9/10).
- Kind Love – This checks the box on the high-life attendance list. This is a head scratcher as I don’t understand its value on the album save for diversity and the need to drive home his attempt to switch from pop heavy to something with a national appeal. Your typical love track (6/10).
- On top of your matter – Totally deserving of its spot on this album. A futuristic high-life track with some tinge of pop in there somewhere. Perfect production and delivery. Wiz doing Wiz. I bet a couple of wedding playlists have this song firmly embedded in it. “Love ohh”, “Love ohh” (8.9/10).
- In love – Ragga intro, the beginning gets your attention and you are captivated, waiting in anticipation and…… the song does not disappoint as it changes the tempo of the album. Rhythmic, catchy and futuristic. The beat was tailor-made for this production. I expect a complimentary video soon. Seyi Shay did not “waste space”. She delivered when it was expected of her. Kudos to both of them on delivering a quality product. **For the Ladies**. (8.2/10).
- For you (feat Akon) – For a second, I thought I was listening to a Uhuru or Professor track. There is some disconnect in the early part of this track as your brain tries to decipher the connection between Wizkid’s and an Mzanzi styled beats. Wizkid later on salvages what is left of the track with the help of Akon once the song subdues your brain into acceptance. Good instrumentals, but definitely not appropriate for the vocals used (7.1/10).
- Dutty Whyne (feat Banky W) – Not entirely surprised Mr. Wellington is featured on this track. This is something up his alley – Ragga theme. Another girl-whyne-your-waist track. Feels cumbersome, but I guess every album has to have its filler/compensation track (for aggrieved previous Oga’s) (7.0/10).
- Ki lo FE – From the get-go, this track takes you on a ride!!! One of the best” party jams” on this album. The beats assists Wizkid in delivering an amazing performance and it never lets up. Armed with a catchy hook, you have a memorable afro-pop song that should rival a couple of classics from his first album (8.6/10).
- Omalicha – Deceptive track name, I was expecting some Igbo vocals on this. Nevertheless, this song took me back to the early 90’s South African era when they were churning out household hits loved by the entire Continent. Definitely has that nostalgic guitar imprint. Surprisingly good lyrics on this. Another example of how Wiz has grown as an artist (8.3/10).
- Bombay (feat Phyno) – Well thought through collaboration with one of the music industry hottest acts. I particularly like the Igbo flute on the beats (I wonder if Phyno had a hand in that). The beats, hook and delivery does justice to this product. I guarantee you will suddenly notice your head swinging to this track unconsciously. One of those tracks that will stand the test of time (8.7/10).
- One question (feat Yemi Sax) – Classy track.” One question, are you gonna dance with me?” I have a feeling this song made it on the album due to some input from the Business team (insert gala night, industry night, Weddings etc). This is enough to bring our parents to the dance floor to boogie and….well, let’s leave it at that. I would have preferred this track further down the list (more like an album closer) but, well done Wizzy. Yemi Sax, I see you. Tuale!! (8.5/10).
- Celebrate – I like the beginning of this track, it takes us back to his “Superstar” days – when he was purely a pop song churning factory. Even the production seems muffled (intentional or not). The song puts you in a good mood and dare I say…..reminisce on your past exploits in life. Typical afro-pop beats and all, but I say it gets a pass mark from me (7.9/10).
- Show you the money (Remix) (Feat Tyga) – Why Tyga?? Wrong artist to feature on an afro-beat track. Wizkid leaves his original lyrics on the tracks and increments it with Tyga’s. Since a remix was inevitable on the album, this passes for it (and that is not saying much). Poorly executed song (6.9/10).
- Murder (feat Wale) – The only outlandish song (with the right feature) on this album that was flawlessly executed (Maleek Berry knows what he is doing). From the production to Wizkid’s delivery and Wale’s curtain-raiser, this was a well packaged song and should sell in any of the African music markets. A car bumping track. The hook gets it!! (9.0/10).
- Joy – Theme music right here! If any track is fitting of being able to bump off “One question” from the curtain-closer role, it is this track. A reflective track at best with its easy- to-deliver beat. Wizkid is thanking and blessing his fans for their support on the journey titled his life. He also relays the support and advice he got from his mum growing up. Feel good track (8.5/10).
- Caro (feat LAX) – “Caro”- A name that would go down in folklore. Everybody’s favorite track. Afro-pop at its best. Noteworthy is the fact that this song is almost a year old and the visuals have been out there for ages, yet, it found its way on to the album. (awoof for the bois!!) (9.1/10).
So, there you have it! A track by track walk-through.
While this album might not measure up to his “Superstar” album iconic status, it shows us that he intends to explore other genres such as Trance, High-life and House. This should help him grow as an artist, perfect his craft and stand the test of time as the taste of his fans begins to evolve (due to age). Overall, the album was well produced, the listing was appropriate (save the “One question” track) with minimal filler tracks. An extra RnB track wouldn’t have hurt, but the album receives an (7.9/10) – A great showing considering this is a sophomore album. Worth the $9.99.