Revisiting Wande Coal’s Evergreen Album, ‘Mushin 2 Mo’hits’
A timeless masterpiece
A timeless masterpiece
When I was 13 years old, I fell in love with Wande Coal. Well, not literally. I was not in love with him, but his music catalogue which revealed a new world to me with each new listen. At the time, I had an older cousin who used to work at Mo’hits records at the early stages of his career so he gave me a physical copy of each album that was released under Mo’hits at the time, including the ‘Mushin 2 Mo’hits’ CD. I listened to the album on my way back home from his place that evening and remember being extremely impressed by the first few tracks. On my way back from school the following day, I gave the album another listen and I immediately knew this was something I was going to be listening to for a long while.
Soon, it became routine practice to spin his debut album ‘Mushin 2 Mo’hits.’ Car rides back home from school usually lasted longer than the journey to school, due to the rush hour traffic on Third Mainland Bridge but I never fretted. Car rides home were a time to dig deep into your favourite record. The rush hour traffic in Lagos made getting home at an early hour an impossibility, so I would sit at the back seat and listen to replays of my favourite songs on what I consider Wande Coal’s magnum opus.
As months would pass, my obsession with the album only thickened and I became so invested in the album. Soon enough, I decided that I needed to meet the mastermind behind the project — Wande Coal. This was not impossible as I come from a family of music heads and music industry job holders but how it was going to happen was what was lost on me at the time.
I had mentioned to my mum and my cousin who had been involved with Mo’Hits Records, at that time, that my 13th birthday wish was to meet Wande Coal. They both promised to make this happen but on the day of the event, there were many setbacks which derailed our fated meeting. Still I prevailed and got the opportunity to meet him later that day. To my 13-year-old self, nothing else mattered to me for the rest of the year. I was happy. He graced me with his presence and with his heartfelt and honest vocals.
It’s only now that I am much older that I understand what his music meant to a younger me. It changed my life and this was because it was the first time I remember being able to translate someone’s music into actual feelings. ‘Mushin 2 Mo’hits’ is undoubtedly one of the most impactful Afropop albums out of Nigeria till date. From the album title, the artist has told his story in just three words. I could relate to his struggles and pain on records like “Jehovah” and “Se Ope”, and I could also understand his words of affection on records like “Bananas” and my all time favourite Wande Coal record “Ololufe.”
Wande Coal’s story was a typical example of a grass to grace story. On track 13 of the LP “Jehovah”, he was able to tell the story of the life changing opportunity given to him, over the fast paced Don Jazzy-produced beat. He quips standout lyrics such as “Jehovah thank you Lord for bringing D’banj and Don Jazzy to the place wey I dey”, letting listeners into his world while showing much appreciation to those who helped him get to where he was at the point. In terms of impact on the general public, ‘Mushin 2 Mo’hits’ was one of those albums that had multiple hit records. Songs such as “You Bad”, “Bumper to Bumper” and “Taboo” easily became party bops almost as soon as they were released.
Storytelling was a large part of music in the early 2000’s. Artists such as Styl Plus displayed storytelling at its finest on their debut album, ‘Expressions’, and ‘Mushin 2 Mo’hits’ is also a masterclass in storytelling and songwriting. I remember how I would write the lyrics to his records down in a song journal and I would sit and think about the thought process behind each song. I vividly remember wondering half of the time how one person was able to tell multiple stories at the same time, from telling the story of his life to telling love stories and delivering romantic numbers while still single-handedly dishing out party bops, he was my very own Einstein. Going back into the archives has also helped me understand better what was happening.
While other artists at the time may have been chasing hits, all the collaborators on ‘Mushin 2 Mo’hits’ were creating something that would stand the test of time. On “Ololufe,” which the artist performed switching between his Yoruba dialect and English, the promises he made to his love interest, at the time, made me believe that love had no complications. While he chants lyrics such as, “To omo ba de, sho ma bami to, iwo ni mo fe ni aye me,” which translates to “when our children come, will you help me take care of them? because it’s you I want in my life,” it’s impossible to believe as a young impressionable teenager that love isn’t perfect. The romantic number was so good that after its initial appearance on the Mo’hits all stars debut album in 2007 when it was initially released, it still came into sight on Wande Coal debut album. Of course at the time, I did not understand why this was so but now, it’s only fair to say “Ololufe” is a beautiful piece of art.
Now, as a music writer I understand that the music from back then was made for us to appreciate now and the music that’s being made now is more for the people coming behind us to appreciate in the near future. At the time, it did not exactly make sense to me but I knew I enjoyed listening to it. Now, with more seasoned ears and experiences along the way, I recognise and value all the effort put into that body of work because it was stellar. I’m also still displeased that it’s not on streaming platforms. It has been 13 years since its 2009 release but none of the songs on that album have lost any momentum when they come up on the DJ’s rotation.
Today, his ever-evolving persona has brought the “You Bad” singer this far, and that has kept me as a fan more than a decade after. The hitmaker has not changed much over the years, as he is still doing what he’s been known for for years now; delivering hits. Experiencing ‘Mushin 2 Mo’hits’ definitely shaped my view on music today and it is the album’s evergreen quality that has made him such a respected veteran in the game.
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