IN 2006, WANDE COAL GREW FROM JUST A BACKGROUND MEMBER OF A GROUP TO A HOUSEHOLD NAME, TODAY HE IS BACK TO TAKE HIS RIGHTFUL PLACE IN THE NIGERIAN MUSIC INDUSTRY AND WE ARE HAPPY TO HAVE HIM BACK.
Wande Coal, the Onetime Nigerian R&B and Afropop sweetheart who stole the heart of the country and I dare say the continent seems to be back, possibly bigger and better. But before we go on to talk about his return, let’s step back a bit into memory lane and remind ourselves; who really is Wande Coal and why should his return matter to anyone?
Wande Coal was part of the record label and group - Mo’ hits Records, one which was more just a phenomenon, the type Nigeria will not forget soon. At the peak of the success of the group, Wande Coal stood out. That was asides the super zesty and energetic D’banj. Wande was exceptional. An obvious bright and shining star in group. With an impeachable vocal strength and a lovable personality, he fast became everyone’s favourite. Following his fast fame and increased market demand, he dropped his debut album, “Mushing to Mo’Hits” in 2006, an unforgettable 16 tracks album which many have rated as one of the greatest Nigerian Albums of the this decade. Tracks from the album topped charts for months and has today lived beyond its era. Hits tracks like “You Bad”, “Se na like this”, Kiss your hand”, “Bumper to Bumper” and “Ololufe” among others still enjoy massive club play and airplay today. Wande's contribution to the new Nigerian culture today is undeniable.
Following some controversies and a fallout in the group, he left the label and went into a six years long hiatus after which he returned in 2015 with "Wanted” under his personal record label, Black Diamond Entertainment. Wanted was stated by many to be the most anticipated album in the history of modern Nigerian music. The “Wanted” album was rated to be just okay, viewing it through the lens of his debut album. With about just two widely accepted hit singles off the album (“Ashimapeyin” and “Baby Hello”), he left his fans grossly underwhelmed. Many wanted the old Wande back. With that looking like a distant wish, the artiste as rebranded and improved himself for the current Nigerian music market, one out to dance, groove and party, not caring about lyrics, content or message. Standing on this widely known premise, Wande released two singles late last year and both have grown to become part of the most played hits singles of the year, “Isakaba” and “Ballerz”
Considering the rather swift shift in the new Nigerian sound, Wande has repositioned himself to fit into the new era. With minimalist approach to his lyrics, in line with current trend, he crafted a very catchy hook, one which no one who hears can ignore on the hit single “Isakaba”:
“Iskaba iskelebete iskoloboto
Iskaba, iskelebete iskoloboto
Iskaba, iskelebete iskoloboto
Iskaba, iskelebete iskoloboto”
Though this chant may have no meaning, its senselessness blends so perfectly with the beat, birthing a magical rhythm. Produced by Spellz, the song was well tailoured for the current Nigerian sound; a consideration he kind of missed in his last album – Making music to fit the sound of the present time. With a sound tilting more on the tropical House and New Afropop side of life, Isakaba which may sound funny seems more like a calculated score, mirroring the his ex-label boss’ strategy on “Dorobucci”, everyone is left asking what the song hook means thereby creating more conversion and buzz for the song. With “Ballerz” and “Iskaba” gaining massive club play and airplay, we are sure that Wande has done his homework and that he is indeed back. As we await his coming album, we celebrate these two singles shaking the industry and affecting culture. All hail Wande!