One of the best markers of a truly great artiste – one that would sustain relevance for a long time – is the ability to reinvent themselves continually. While the process of reinvention differs for each act, the end goal remains the same: refining their artistry to sound fresh constantly. For some, the process requires keeping their ears to the ground, spotting and seeking bright and incredibly talented acts who bring something novel and different to the table.
Take, for example, Beyoncé. In an interview with Complex, the 39-year-old superstar revealed how she came across Frank Ocean: “Jay had a CD playing in the car one Sunday when we were driving to Brooklyn. I noticed his tone, his arrangements, and his storytelling,” She said. “I immediately reached out to him – literally the next morning. I asked him to fly to New York and work on my record.” Their collaboration would produce the evergreen “I Miss You” and sturdy records like “Superpower” and “Pink + White”. For others, it requires expanding their sonic palette to accommodate fresh sounds, whether old or new. On his 2016 Grammy award-winning album, Bruno Mars tidily infused funk with contemporary pop and R&B to create a robust collection of glitzy, vibrant, memorable songs. The same goes for Drake’s 2017 ‘playlist’ More Life, where the Toronto-rapper meshed a diverse range of sounds from all around the globe to deliver one of his finest works in recent memory.
In crafting his brilliant fourth studio album Made In Lagos, pop polymath Wizkid has had to adopt both methods. Not only did he tweak his sound – substituting hard-hitting drums and club bangers for more mellow, rhythmic numbers – he also accommodates relatively new faces like Tay Iwar, London, Projexx, Tems and Terri to extremely good effect. “True Love” and the Tems-assisted “Essence” (album fan favourites), exemplify how embracing a different sound and working with younger, talented acts works a treat. “Steady”, one of the new additions on the Made In Lagos deluxe edition, is another fine example.
Collaborating with Tay Iwar once again, Wizkid delivers arguably his most sensual single to date. Even though he has had previous flirtations with slow, sultry productions, here is where he sounds most at home. P2j’s satiny synths, slow drums, plush horns and Tay’s looped vocals are what provide the cushion for his measured vocals. A calm, relaxed demeanour has surrounded Wizkid since he began the MIL run and songs like “No Stress”, “Smile” and “Blessed” nicely capture the energy. Here, he’s looking for a lady to complement that cool as he repeatedly sings: “All I need from my baby, something steady / Cool she a five-star lady.” Wizkid doesn’t sound like he’s in a hurry, and neither does the song: It’s seductive and spacious, sounding like the aural equivalent of low-lit candles and wine glasses.