The Nigerian-born musician who lives in America has made a bold statement with his EP and his oeuvre comes across as fully-formed. There is no need to call him an up-and-coming artist. No need to say there are salient aspects of his artistry or craft that he has not mastered as a recording artist. One only needs to look at his performance to conclude whether he is a consummate musician.
Blue-haired and born in the grimy working class side of Lagos, WurlD takes the vibrant sounds of Mushin to the refined tradition of laid-back and urban Rhythm and Blues music of America. Add to this a splash of syrupy House and a tinge of Electronic Music and there goes his acoustic cocktail.
Mushin is not only the headquarters of Fuji music and NURTW-powered gang rivalry, it also plays an important role in music distribution of other genres which include Sakara, Apala, Fuji, Juju and even the gospel sound. Music blasting from massive speakers were definitely a regular fixture of WurlD’s childhood.
The precocious musician’s ear got refined during his studies in America. What he has found is an amalgam of his experiences that blends, rather masterfully, the possibilities of Nigerian sounds and sensibility with the American genre of Rhythm and Blues. Effectively, melanin is involved, as in the case of Fela whose highlife was gazing at Jazz until he travelled to America to learn that his highlife should be gazing at Africa instead.
Whilst WurlD is not a crooner with any form of political consciousness. He sings about the most quickening of mundanities out there—love and the dynamics of relationships.
Every song metes out affection somewhere between mid and low tempo. His smoke-silky voice is perhaps his strongest asset; next is his song-writing which is not only earnest but it bears the unmistakable touch of workshop.
Listen, home-based musicians, to how songs can be written with finesse. His sound is impressive and even more so because he worked with home-grown producer and artists like Shizzi.
The music hardly strays out of the reach of love or to put it another way, that emotional response that starts with infatuation and deepens, if given sufficient oxygen, into something more meaningful and lasting.
Even though every song is a triumph, ‘Contagious’ stands out as being the quintessential Nigeria song that blends the quickened percussions of Afrobeat that Sir Shina Peters used in the late 80s to rescue Juju music from the doldrums. Of course, this is 2019 and acoustic engineering has evolved, but what WurlD achieves is an accomplishment that can quicken the steps of a toddler in Mushin and a middle-aged woman’s too. One can’t imagine that strobe-light powered House clubs will renege on this music.
WurlD brings a fusion that is only made possible when individual talent meets with tradition and international exposure; his synthesis sits well in the different cultures and musical genres he assembles. We can only wait, with subtle anticipation, that he will release a longer and delightful project soon.