Editor’s note:Naij.com contributor Udochukwu Ikwuagwu reviews Wande Coal’s long anticipated album, Wanted. In the critic’s opinion, the Black Diamond’s latest effort fell short of the high expectations that preceded it.
Wande Coal recently released his anticipated sophomore album, Wanted. The title could be considered apt due to the long wait and questions surrounding his musical absence after his groundbreaking début album, Mushin 2 Mo’Hits.
Keeping with the album title that shares ties with law enforcement lingo, Wande and his art team including celebrated photographer August Udoh channel the Ebon Heath-inspired iconic The Notorious B.I.G album cover for Life After Death.
Though the team substitutes the hearse with fast moving vehicles – a Lagosdanfo and an SUV – possibly depicting his story from lack to abundance. Wande in a still position is metaphorical as he stands unperturbed given his ‘wanted’ state by the music community. Unlike the Biggie representation of a man courting death or speaking from the other side, Wande’s Mafioso-style screams, “wanted alive not dead!”
Since Wande’s reappearance on a certain December 6, 2011 with three songs – Go Low, Been Long You Saw Me, and Private Trips – and trending globally on same day, he has gone on to release more than a dozen songs with no album in sight. Some questioned his commitment to his business, tagging his work ethics lazy and unprofessional. But one can’t divorce the crisis that hit Mo’Hits Records from the delay in M2M’s follow-up.
Wanted contains 21 songs with bonus ones; with the length of the project, similar to a standard edition of an Alaba DJ mix, excitement stretches an already short attention span and utterly fails. It opens rather uneventfully with a bore of an intro by comedian Seyi Law then segues into Adura, a gospel-themed song, perhaps an ode to his church upbringing. Adura reuses the template for Se Ope off M2M. In an attempt to redeem the lost one minute eight seconds spent on the intro, Wande literally takes it to church. Adura surely will get feet moving and hands thrown without abandon in the air on a Sunday and any day dedicated to thanks.
Superwoman enters the mix, not in a cape or spandex, but in the colour of Xela- the one responsible for BlackMagic’s Repete. Wande Coal’s falsetto trills about his love interest: “And I don’t ever wanna see you cry, baby/And I don’t ever wanna see you go/And I don’t ever wanna see you sad…Superwoman.”
Wande promises to give her ‘anything’ and grant her wishes like the mythical genie; he gets his R&B lint well-tailored for this outing. He impresses his request and pleas for any lady to wrap her tender arms around his large figure. This isn’t all filled with stars but makes the best of the moment granted.
One starts to question the musical direction, production and mixing as the album proceeds from the fourth track, We Ball. One also begins to question the unsatisfactory EP’ing by both Maleek Berry and Mr. Ojosipe and A&R’ing on this album. We Ball leaves a rather flashy line behind- ‘talking big numbers like bingo’ – a line that could contend for the flashiest line created by any Nigerian pop artiste in 2015. Donell Jones’ You Know That I Love You makes an unexpected appearance as though to fill the holes in songwriting.
Nigerian artistes have a problem with trap music popularized by Southern rappers in USA – a hip-hop sub-genre that could be heard in and around Atlanta’s Magic City – so it’s not surprising that Wande Coal and AKA falter on the BeatFreakz production- Same Sh*t. Poor mixing shows its ugly behind on Same Sh*t like a well-played pun. Monster fails to lift the tedium that hovers above this project. Whoever Simba Tagz is, he needs more training as a music engineer because the mixing and mastering on Wanted comes off amateurish and shabby.
The unnecessary skits on Wanted add to the drawback of this project. From the Seyi Law one to the outro. Wande Coal started his career as a hypeman for D’Banj before getting time on Loke and Why Me off Rundown Funk U Up so he rewards the system that made him by putting his (and Davido’s) hypeman, Special Ed, now christened King Spesh, on—unfortunately, he does little to acknowledge this grand opportunity.
“Won wa mi ni’gboro, dem dey find me ni’gboro/’Cos awa l’an f’owo sere, apo apo a l’owo l’owo,” Wande Coal continues the standard Hip-Hop braggadocio and money theme on the titular track, Wanted. If this is the best Wanted Mr. Coal could create following a 6-year break, then there is a shit-stain on his formerly praised songwriting and creativity. Wanted is bland and a forgettable effort; even Major Bangz couldn’t save it.
Midway into the Wanted album, Ashimapeyin directs the finger away from the stop or eject button, giving a little excitement for one’s troubles. Though a careful listener could attribute its success as a hit single to KWAM 1 (who he borrows the hook from) and recycled lyrics from Bumper 2 Bumper- ‘Sexy ladies around the world follow my lead/No need to ask no questions follow my lead.’ And a certain word famous in the underground digital economy- shanawole! Ashimapeyin is the most polite way of being rude or better put- most polite response to a food or drink request at an Owambe; therefore, it should do the needed havoc on Owambe dance floors from pricey Ikoyi clubs to canopy-shindigs in Ikorodu to street carnivals at Beere, Ibadan.
Maleek Berry comes through with Weekend, as Wande Coal compares his love interest to a Lamborghini and waxes lyrical about giving her an orgasm-filled tryst—like rain, as direct as it comes (no pun intended). Sexy time or one-night stand(s) just got a healthy addition to its playlist.
From such an ‘explosion’, the album sinks into crappyland with the highlife-inspired Plenty Love – something a certain KCee or Iyanya would readily appreciate – to the “Who would have thought 2Face and Wande Coal would give a drag?” to the Dancehall-Lowkey that should have better suited Burna Boy, to whatever Jelly was meant to achieve.
Wande has been known to get inspired by women’s buttocks- albeit exaggerated buttocks- for which he had made righteous confession on Booty Call, Been Long You Saw Me, The Kick. Artistes like Flavour, Olamide, Lil Kesh, Timaya are fellow believers in the wonders of ladies’ backside, they have waxed records in honour of Heaven’s beauty. So, when Wande Coal repeats his ode to Miss Idikunle (in local speak, bumbum fill the place), he keeps with the reverence on Baby Hello. This song should get every bootylicious lady grinning from ear to ear as ‘play’ gets hit. Baby Hello, despite the monotonous beat, became a hit from radio listeners to revelers. And the music video got a bootylicious Yemi Alade blessing the ambience.
Amorawa and My Way should have made the standard issue of Wanted in place of the dud tracks that littered its tracklist—though the excuse could be that both tracks are older than 2 years. The latter had Wande on one of his best performances since Ghanaian duo, R2Bees’ Kiss Your Hand. No surprises that the same trip to Ghana birthed this- Got that big booty like you’re from Ghana.
Wanted, one of the most anticipated albums of 2015, fails to meet expectations from songwriting to production to engineering to music direction. Wande Coal’s sophomore album is a humdrum of a project with monotony lining its tracks. The length of the project could be forgiven due to the delay and number of songs recorded and released during the 6-year period; though that could be venial, the quality of the project shouldn’t be compromised. Wanted is an album that, like the ripped jeans or Mohawk or septum-piercing, will endure today but vanish before the year adds another.
The hype around the album is understandable; but the lacklustre work is not—for an artiste that had all the time in the world for his sophomore, Wande Coal’s Wanted is disappointing, dreary and not worth the wait.