Track by track review of the Wande Coal classic 'Mushin 2 Mo' Hits' as it turns 10
- Pulse Live NG
There are only a few contemporary Nigerian albums that are as peerless and almost flawless as Wande Coal's solo seminal debut 'Mushin 2 ' Mo' Hits'.
Released in 2009 from the hit factory co-owned by D'banj and Don Jazzy, Wande Coal rewrote the game by concocting a new formula of crafting pop hits.
M2M is now a decade old, and yet it still resonates with the pop crazy music audience in Nigeria. It is not about nostalgia because the body of work still sounds fresh. The appreciation of M2M has to do with the genius, the author of the classic.
The classic LP marks the first time and only time that Don Jazzy's production skill played second fiddle to the artist's talent. The Don Baba Jay instrumentals on M2M though glorious on their own couldn't steal the scene from Wande whose immense talent was astonishing and captivating.
Many pop albums have come after M2M. Some have been remarkable (Superstar by Wizkid, The Journey by Sean Tizzle) but none have equaled Wande Coal's first offering.
Today as Mushin 2 Mo' Hits turns 10, we bring to you a track by track review of this true Nigerian classic.
-Ayomide Tayo, Senior Editor
The first time we truly caught a snippet of Wande Coal, born Oluwatobi Wande Ojosipe was in 2006 - a year before he got signed to the now defunct Mo’ Hits Records.
Vigilant people would have also noticed him as a dancer in the video for 'Aiye Le' off Tade Ogidan's OGD All Star Jamz in 2006.
Prior to this he did choreography work for Tunde Kelani's 2004 movie 'Campus Queen' which was primarily shot at the University of Lagos which Wande Coal was studying at.
In a 2018 interview with Ebro Darden on Beats 1, he spoke about how he got signed to the now defunct label, “I met D'banj and , they came to my college, I freestyled for them and Jazzy was like, do you have another song, so I started beat-boxing and we did some songs together, then Jazzy got my number.
Wande Coal would have back up vocals on D'banj songs such as 'Loke Loke,' 'Why Me' and 'Tono Sibe' off his 2006 album 'Rundown/Funk You Up'.
“2007, I got signed, had to leave school, I was in my final year, then I went for my first trip to America, did a show, came back" he later told Ebro.
After signing with Mo' Hits, Wande Coal's first solo offering off the label would be 'Ololufe', a love ballad that still holds strong till today.
His grand announcement was off the Mo' Hits compilation album, 'Curriculum Vitae' released in 2007 where he featured on almost all the songs.
All the popular songs on the album featured one masterclass or the other from Wande Coal.
Songs, 'Pere,' 'Booty Call,' and Be Close To You' put an identity to Wande and the hype grew. His (huge) contribution to Curriculum Vitae would put the spotlight on him. Despite the demand for more solo Wande Coal records it would be two years before he dropped his debut.
'Bumper To Bumper' was the lead single from M2M and as the cliche goes, the rest is history.
Below is a track by track review of the project.
To great fanfare, the album dropped on April 12, 2009 – 10 years ago. Every song was a hit and this was the result;
‘I Know You Like It’
The pop moment that opened the album. When we heard the Jay Sleek produced, 2Baba’s ‘Implication’ in 2010, some thought it was pristine. It was not, it was a direct offspring of this moment. Forget the lyrics for a second, listen to the production. This was like merging a Max Martin-produced Britney Spears pop song with danceable African beat.
The determining factor was the snare drum. Wande delivers a tale of braggadocio about his sexual prowess without anyone noticing exactly what he was trying to do. This song merged generations into one.
‘You Bad’ featuring D’banj
One of the first singles off the album, Wande transitioned from R&B crooning lover-boy to the typical hormonal young man, dealing with his attraction to women of all shapes and sizes. He starts by singing, “You bad, you want it… I know you want it cos you bad…”
Just as the song was relatable to both sexes for its topics of attraction, sex, and lewd romance, that we were all trying to work ourselves into, it set dance floors on fire from Lagos to Zaria.
Birthdays and parties had the song on repeat and true natures of wildness got unleashed once it came on – it still happens with nostalgia. The D’banj feature just drives everyone to madness.
‘Se Na Like This’
Quick one: Nigeria is still embroiled in everything Wande complained about 10 years ago and even worse. Make no mistake, the reggae-esque beat of this song was too good to be wasted on Nigeria, but at the time, it was what we needed.
The electro strings were so infectious, we were dancing to Nigeria’s documented problems of light, water and corruption. Wande couldn’t wait at the time, but it’s a pity that we’re still waiting. Since then, we have been through an economic recession.
‘Kiss Your Hands’
A poetic song of appreciation. It was an appreciation of womanhood and a monument of consent almost a decade before the pre-woke era.. He asked to touch her in a way that warms the heart of even the most cold-hearted woman – flattery.
It was like a perfect first encounter scene in a romantic comedy. Being the fourth track on the track list, it underlined the perfect balance of lyricism, impeccably conceived and executed production and well-timed engineering. It was also another moment to celebrate Don Jazzy.
‘Confused’ featuring D’banj
The most underrated song on this album. This was a Don Jazzy masterclass, merging passive OJB moments of 3 years prior with Timbaland’s and Danja’s 2003-2008 run which culminated in Nelly Furtado’s ‘Promiscuous Girl.’
The Don Jazzy moment of brilliance was picking up the repetitive sample, “You got me confused…” and putting it on a loop alongside the spazzed vocals that ran under the beat around every time, “I go give to you…” came up. This song is basically about the brilliance of production and Wande’s perfectly executed hook.
On ‘M2M,’ there is something for everybody. Being a church boy, I guess Wande making songs for that constituency was always inevitable. Interestingly, he talks about how he fasted and prayed.
The power of this song came with the demography it affected and the effort that went into making it appeal to the pop audience simultaneously. Gratitude is such an underrated human sentiment.
‘Now It’s All Gone’
The second most underrated song on this album. A break-up song that chronicles the tale of love gone sour. Relatable in itself and bearing the signature Don Jazzy-vocals as an undertone and impressive lyricism/penmanship – a since underrated part of Wande’s artistry. He sang, “I used to feel the butterflies in my tummy, I used to get the chills when you hold me…”
Coincidentally, it also houses my sole critique for the album; ‘Ololufe’ should have come before a breakup song. But then, the type of beat that housed this song perfectly fits the segues we had been getting. ‘Ololufe’ might have been too up-tempo. The piano chords that make up the song are memorable.
‘Bumper To Bumper’
Starting off with the magic of warped-out guitar effects and rhythmic drums, toms and snare before transitioning with an increased bass undertone around the time, “Make you follow me Bumper To Bumper” comes on. In fact, this beat arrangement of taking foreign pop rhythms and adding African percussion is the blueprint of every evolution of pop sounds that’s come since then.
The “Omoge je’kalo o, kilo’n duro de…” fuji moment Wande invoked at the end of this song ensured even Nigerians over 35 at the time got attracted.
‘Who Born The Maga’ featuring K-Switch
Don Jazzy was an unreal music phenomenon of his time and beyond. This beat merged the Indian effects which Timbaland & Magoo and Just Blaze were known for in the early 2000s with the brilliance of a guitar riff and Hip-Hop percussion.
Interestingly, it was a ruthless, spiteful song of a man looking to prosper off his work. Special shout-out to K Switch.
‘That’s Wots Up’
The niche favourite on this album. It is like the ‘Homecoming’ moment on Kanye West’s ‘Graduation’ or ‘Holy Pass’ moment form 2baba’s ‘Face2Face.’
‘Bananas’ featuring Dr Sid
Another love song. At the time, Wande was a self-confessed R&B head, so he had to represent.
A song that merged the compulsion to marry a woman one loves against all odds with the danceable 2000s R&B on a mad hook is all anyone needed. Topically, lyrically and by embellishment, this song was always going to be a hit. The brilliance of this song was summed up with the, “Ki leleyi ileke…” and “Ileke…” that started the song.
Like on 'Se Ope,' Wande makes this for the church constituency.
Officially, it was the first song we knew off ‘M2M.’ The song became the love song that set University students on the path to romances that fizzled out as quickly as they started. It featured with secondary school students on their path to their first kiss.
This is evidenced by how Nigerians U-30 still sing with immense passion whenever the song comes up at shows. Wande was soft, sweet and romantic on this song, offering reassurance to a woman he loves. While the beat mirrored Mario’s ‘Let Me Love You,’ the defining moment was the music box moment at its start.
‘Ten Ten’ featuring Mo’ Hits All-stars
A love song that was off the South-African alley. Don Jazzy is a visionary for bringing that underlying guitar riff into the mix, but it wasn’t until ‘Fall In Love’ that he really perfected that South African effect.
But in 2009, it blew radio and wedding parties off.
‘My Grind’ featuring Mo’ Hits All-Stars
Hip-Hop. Perfection. D’Prince’s best verse. Also, the third most underrated song on this album.
Not just that, 'Mushin To Mo’ Hits' regally positioned Wande Coal for the name he'd belatedly assume 8 years later, 'King Coal,' 'Mushin To Mo’ Hits' became the progeny of nearly contemporary Nigerian pop music.
Wande Coal is also the stylistic progeny of nearly all modern Nigerian pop artists. Except you are from Agege with a niche sound behind you, you reflect Wande Coal's style, impact, flow, and approach to beats in some way, however little. But usually, it is major.
While Wande Coal's talent will inevitably and rightly take plaudits, the detail, creative organization, timing, production, track-list and overall engineering of 'M2M' must win Don Jazzy and the entire Mo’ Hits team behind this album some plaudits. This was no one-man feat, it’s too much to be even a three-man victory.
Even the album title, 'Mushin To Mo’ Hits' was masterful conception. Experience has taught me that music relatability is 80% subconscious. When album has a title of the classic grass to grace story, coupled with an identifier like 'Mushin,' it registers.
Artiste and repertoire (A&R) on that album is worthy of emulating. A few people understand everything about that album was strategically conceived. Its tracklist made segues seamless and transition near-ethereal.
The dance songs came at the right time and the vocal switches came at the right time on songs. Even stylistic genre-warps like 'My Grind' and 'That's Wot's Up' came impeccably timed. They were also conceived well enough to never disrupt the seamless transition of that album.
Every string, every beat count, every bit of percussion, every lyric was impeccably timed.
If Tubaba's 'Grass to Grace' album chronologically and creatively mirrored the rearranged diary of young Nigerian life, 'M2M' represents the aspiration of young Nigerians.
It is rare to see an album of 16 tracks have no fillers. I will go on a bender and say this ‘Mushin To Mo’ Hits’ is the best Nigerian album over the past 10 years. It was unmatched and it remains unmatched. If this album were to drop now, it would still have bang hard.
• Ratings: /10
• 0-2: Flop
• 2.1-4.0: Near fall
• 4.1-6.0: Average
• 6.1-8: Victory
• 8.1-10: Champion
Flow and delivery: 2/2
Topical conversation, themes and topical diversity: 1.8/2
Impact and Influence: 2/2