WurlD manages to find common place in his music. Luckily, he is no longer the inaccessible foreign-influenced kid as detractors would have liked to tag him.
WurlD’s music has been encompassing since the first day. A child of a duo of cultures, how does one marry the cool of a James Brown to the electricity of Fela ? King Sunny Ade to Michael Jackson ?
Understandably, WurlD’s sound has been described – by many publications and the man himself – as ‘electro fusion’, a genre bending form which blends the regular EDM with other forms to create music which is at once “soothing, electrifying and unpredictable” according to WurlD’s interview with Vibe.
Born Sadiq Onifade, the act, signed onto Universal Musical Group in 2018, breathed his first in the air of Lagos. When schooling (like many new school acts) in Atlanta, he began recording songs. Recognizably, there’s a Western edge of expressiveness to his art but even when he is Alté, the box is too small to fit WurlD in as he confronts the complexities of African music.
In May 2016 – three years after the release of his debut EP, Evolution and in-between a couple of hit songs and important collaborations of which includes a writing stint on R’n’B icon Mario’s album – WurlD released “Show You Off”, a song he attributes significant success to. It did great things for him in Africa and the Caribbean. In an interview with Joey Akan for Okay Africa, he says “ ‘Show You Off’ created the foundation for my vision… I started thinking about fusion.”
Ever since, he’s stuck to his musical decision, managing to keep his expansive fan base happy but also himself. In reference to the earlier mentioned interview, WurlD’s core nature is that of a giver. He has actively been participant in charity and it is this happiness in sharing which also serves as the core of his sophomore EP Love is Contagious.
The EP begins with the previously released “Show You Off”, an instrumental-heavy song. Alongside his serenading vocals, the drums, the bass percussions and occasional trumpet vivifies the song, placing it as the perfect song to open a project titled Love is Contagious.
The song which the project gets its name from is featured next, a flurry of drums setting a mid tempo party groove. The sound is Fuji but with the artiste’s verses and a bridge rendered in Yoruba, the vision to make local content which spreads its arms around other cultures is met. The next duo of songs follow this template of drums and ethereal sounding instruments creating the perfect world around WurlD’s singing. It brings to mind his collaborative efforts with Sarz, the set of songs with which he consolidated on the achievement of “Show You Off”. With a song like “Trobul”, he was affirming his ‘Nigerianess’.
“Wishes and Butterflies” presents perhaps the most poignant songwriting on the project. Over a stuttering bass line, the blue haired act sings:
“Butterflies out my window
Keeps me wishes
I know I fell on the crossroads
Yet you won’t forsake me”
There’s a hum before the barrage of neo funk production which provokes a Michael Jacksonesque sensation in the listener. WurlD’s singing floats above, neither competing nor distorting, but serving the lucidity of the song. In just over two minutes, he pulls off an ultimate artiste prank with the track, reaffirming what he’s said already – his music is unpredictable.
“Feel Right” finds the artiste in R’n’B form, singing about making his lover ‘feel right’ in elegant verses and a carefully crafted hook, probably to catch his/her ears. The song flows into the next (“Candy”), with the ease of soft waters. Over stripped production, WurlD serenades, soothes and sings with soul and the sublime. An early favorite, this, with the previous. As a pair, they accomplish so much for the general theme than the others combined. “Drown” fits into what could be termed a trilogy – it completes the trio of songs which is not frustratingly close in sound but amplifiers of a theme, pursuers of a style which at its core, is made to serenade.
The final song of Love is Contagious (“So Good“) is a sunny song. Its melody draws heavy influence from the Western guitar solo and a happy voice singing. WurlD is infectiously loved, and it feels so good, he sings. With his ‘oous’ and voiced mimicking of a piano, he taps into a musical style which, pulled off well, is certified for critical acclaim. There’s a bass heavy hum which takes over at the end, reaching back four tracks to bear fine semblance to “Wishes and Butterflies”. Like a master short story writer, he makes the compilation of his individual songs connect in some way you might not get at first listen.
As a second timer in the business of EPs, WurlD manages to find common place in his music. Luckily, he is no longer the inaccessible foreign-influenced kid as detractors would have liked to tag him. His music is aware and beautiful. Protestant: in this time when Nigerians export the nights of Nigeria via the Afro Pop sound, WurlD, as he as rightfully sings, is neither exporting or importing. He’s a throwback to a time when love could actually be sung about and not cringed at. He’s also an artiste of his time and his artistry blooms on this.
Love is Contagious is a fine attempt, an obvious upgrade on his first Evolution. Even when differing musical movements will seek to claim WurlD for themselves, the music is driven on the wheels of love – surely universal. By singing out his truest self over production he feels comfortable with, he comes in between the politics which threatens the fluidity of his art. And he knocks it down.
Stream Love is Contagious here.