Sounds from the Other Side is the new EP from the Nigeria-born Afrobeat star, Wizkid. The album encapsulates many sounds including dancehall, house and EDM and fuses them with an Afrobeat spirit, with the help of the well-known Nigerian producer Sarz. The EP, produced from 2014- 2017, displays his new findings whilst travelling and performing worldwide.
‘Sweet Love’ opens the album, which signals an ode to his idol Fela Kuti as he samples his song Shakara (Oloje). Despite the song presumably taking a modern twist on Afrobeat, the composition, especially of the saxophone, sounds more comparable to Highlife; a genre that Afrobeat launched from. Nonetheless, the fusion of Afrobeat and highlife set a cultured and vibrant pace for the album. ‘Come Closer’ follows and we are moved from Highlife to R’n’B-influenced dancehall. It is also produced by Sarz, so the Afrobeat background is obvious and this cocktail of the 3 genres generates a successful track. Despite, the emphasis placed on Drake when it dropped as a single, within the album, Drake’s verse doesn’t overshadow Wizkid nor the song.
‘Naughty Ride’ is a reggaetón influenced track produced by Major Lazer. Again, the Afrobeat and reggaetón combination added with an interpolation of ‘Ride Natty Ride’ by Bob Marley and The Wailers, makes for a very accessible dance track. Daddy Yo continues this reggaetón influence where he sings about his ability to provide for girls providing they dance to his command and beat.
‘One For Me’ transitions the album into Afrobeat and R’n’B fusion with the 1st feature by Ty Dollar Sign. Unlike the previous songs, he sings the whole song in English, stating that his partner is the perfect choice for him. Ty’s vocals, unfortunately, overshadow the background vocals of the R’n’B singer Sevyn Streeter on the song, but luckily it doesn’t distract from the sampling of SWV’s ‘You’re the One’. A notable R’n’B track on this album is Spellz-produced ‘Picture Perfect’, which is well crafted to suit his tone. Wizkid sings effortlessly on the track, however, this could be because he isn’t embodying another genre this time. ‘All for Love’ is another enjoyable track, however, all credit is due to the South African singer Bucie. She carries the song well with her smooth vocals whilst Wizkid attempts to duet with her. Unfortunately compared to her, he occasionally did sound quite flat. The song although good has potential to be even better and this could be easily done if Bucie did her own version of it.
Overall, Sounds from the Other Side wasn’t worth the wait; experimenting with different sounds is commendable but it didn’t cement Wizkid’s style. From the tracks, it was obvious which route he should stick to (highlife, reggaetón infused Afrobeat) but this body of work showed a lack of focus and direction. Although it is important to test other sounds, the EP came across as missing an overarching theme and the development of his writing skills and vocal range was absent. Hopefully, after his exploration, he can really find his niche within the ever-growing afrobeat genre.