Thursday, 23 May 2024

Wande Coal’s ‘Mushin 2 Mo’Hits’ Set The Pace For A New Generation [Review]

When Wande Coal’s revered debut, Mushin 2 Mo’Hits finally arrived on streaming platforms on October 21, 2022, many heaved a sigh of relief.

It was a long time coming, given the album’s original 2009 release. Mo’Hits Records was a force to be reckoned with, having brandished the 2007 compilation album, Curriculum Vitae. Afrobeats superstar D’Banj, as well as producer and label boss Don Jazzy were the undisputed faces of the label. However, another signee with a unique falsetto would set the defining template for a generation of Afrobeats projects.

Mushin 2 Mo'Hits Cover art.
Mushin 2 Mo’Hits Cover art.

The project celebrates Wande Coal’s ascendancy to wealth and the pinnacle of Afrobeats royalty. The first few lines of the album’s lead single, ‘Bumper To Bumper’, perfectly capture this.

2 years ago when I was in Mushin/Some of them dey yinmu yinmu eh‘/’Nisiyin mo ti lowo mo flashy mo classy won mo pe mo lenu lenu eh‘.

As Mo’Hits’ first debut release since D’Banj’s 2005 debut No Long Thing, the success of Wande Coal’s Mushin 2 Mo’Hits was non-negotiable. Thankfully, his standout feature performances on the Curriculum Vitae tracks, ‘Move Your Body’, ‘Close To You’ and ‘Pere’ primed a predominantly millennial audience for his takeover. His 2009 single, ‘Bumper To Bumper’ took things further by becoming a roaring party anthem.

Altogether, Mushin 2 Mo’Hits notably propelled Wande Coal to five big wins at the 2010 Headies Awards: Album of the Year, Artiste of the Year, Revelation of the Year, Best Pop Album, and Revelation of the Year. Certainly, Don Jazzy’s Producer of the Year win cannot be detached from his work on Mushin 2 Mo’Hits.

Mushin 2 Mo'Hits Tracklist.
Mushin 2 Mo’Hits Tracklist.

One of the easiest indicators of a classic album is the amount of popular tracks it spawns—especially the non-singles. Mushin 2 Mo’Hits effortlessly ticks this box, with standout offerings in ‘You Bad’, ‘Kiss Your Hands’, ‘Who Born The Maga’, ‘Taboo’, ‘Jehovah’, ‘Ololufe’ and ‘Ten Ten’. Overall, the album features sixteen tracks, largely produced by Don Jazzy and predominantly on the Afrobeats/Afro-RnB genre. It also strategically features then label mates, D’Banj, Dr. SID, D’Prince and K-Switch, as well as rapper Ikechukwu.

The emphatic ‘I Know You Like It’ opens the album on an energetic note, with Wande Coal asserting his partner’s desire for sensual experiences. He dials things up with the D’Banj-assisted smash hit, ‘You Bad’, where he unites two ends of a preferential spectrum with the memorable lines, ‘See this lepa lepa to bad o lepa to bad o‘/’Orobo orobo to bad o‘. He leans harder into his hedonistic element on the resonant track.

Without steep progress into the album, listeners are more than assured of Wande Coal’s sensual, indulgent artistry. However, he pivots to social commentary on ‘Se Na Like This’. On the track, he references indices of seemingly better times in Nigeria. He sings:

I no fit wait oh‘/’Make things for change oh‘/’Now make we join hands make am beta beta say‘/’I no fit wait oh‘.

Heavy percussions reinforce their place as an album thorough line on the fourth track, ‘Kiss Your Hands’. Ikechukwu graces the bop, where he and Wande Coal tap into their loverboy element. D’Banj makes his second and final appearance on ‘Confused’, where the loverboy streak continues. As the album threatens to lose early momentum, instrumentals and percussions surge on the gospel-infused ‘Se Ope’. Wande Coal expresses gratitude to God, emphatically tabling multiple dualities to show how one can scarcely have everything. Nonetheless, gratitude to the divine is imperative on this resonant standout track.

Some have shoes but got no legs‘/’Some got legs but they have no shoes‘/’We have shoes and we got legs’/’Glory be to Jah Jehovah’.

Sombre instrumentals hearkening to Northen Nigeria usher listeners into ‘Now It’s All Gone’, featuring D’Prince. Wande Coal takes a mellow turn, reflecting on a love gone cold in one of the album’s best written tracks. He sings:

I feel the Butterflies in my tummy‘/‘I used to feel the trips when you hold me(hold me)‘/’My heart is like its raising when you call my name!’/’But now its all gone‘.

Despite an earlier mention, ‘Bumper To Bumper’ merits another highlight due to its timeless quality. It is the quintessential Afrobeats club banger, hitting euphoric highs with scarcely a drop in adrenaline. These make the cheesy, occasionally elementary lines easy to gloss over. Wande Coal is a choral leader here, beckoning to his comrades in reverie to follow his lead with no objections. The song’s crescendo is Afrobeats gold, and easily a peak moment in the album.

Oooh agbaje je ka lo o, je ka lo o, kilon duro de’/’Kilon duro de, ma je kanybody, anybody, sofune ko ma tele mi o, mi o‘.

Wande Coal.

The album’s second half begins with the ‘Who Born The Maga’, featuring K-Switch. Braggadocious and defiant, Wande Coal sends a loaded warning note to challengers and saboteurs. It is another well-written and produced track, loaded with quotables like ‘You be Arsenal, omo I be Man U‘. As an Afrobeats heavyweight in waiting, Wande Coal oozes surplus confidence on ‘Who Born The Maga’. K-Switch delivers a worthy reggae-infused verse, elevating the track to top-tier status. Wande Coal carries some of this self-laudation into ‘That’s What’s Up’, which barely ruffles the feathers of the preceding track and comes off as a filler.

Pristine vocals and the loverboy spirit return on ‘Bananas’. Unlike ‘Now It’s All Gone’, Wande Coal operates in the milieu of the peachy stage of a romance. It is an earnest and fairly resonant track, picking up the album’s momentum in time for the hedonistic, up-tempo ‘Taboo’. The next track, ‘Jehovah’, moves on an even faster tempo, with Wande Coal fully leaning into gospel. He follows the 2000s Nigerian Afrobeats album trend of including a gospel number, but his is a standout. With three songs left to spare, Wande Coal brings the album full circle with the lines, ‘Now owu no dey blow me‘/’I’m fully signed to Mo’Hits‘/’Omo e no easy‘. It is yet another standout track.

Despite their placement in Curriculum Vitae, ‘Ololufe’, ‘Ten Ten’ and ‘My Grind’ reappear to close out Mushin 2 Mo’Hits. ‘Ololufe’ and ‘Ten Ten’ are stellar listens a decade and a half later, with the former offering one of Wande’s finest vocal performances on the album. While ‘My Grind’ reflects a decent Hip-Hop soundscape, it does not quite mesh well with the rest of the project.

Wande Coal.

It is uncommon for sophomore albums to arrive six years after debuts. Somehow, that turned out to be the case with Mushin 2 Mo’Hits. Label issues notwithstanding, one cannot deny the challenge that crafting a worthy follow-up posed. Mushin 2 Mo’Hits featured bangers, bops and ballads in nigh-perfect measure, creating a sonic template for a generation of Nigerian pop acts.

Essentially, at age 23, Wande Coal crafted one of the most influential Afrobeats albums of all time.

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