As creatives we sometimes get this anxiety while creating. Either we’re writing, designing, producing, it’s a trial and error of sorts. Will this work or should I just abandon it?
Or like most people, we sit and just shuffle on to a distraction until the right vibe comes in. We pull up excuses like “I’ll do it later at night, I’m more settled at that point”. Sometimes, it’s just giving up that idea in our head, believing it won’t just work out. A lot goes on in the headspace of a creative.
For Wizkid, he was just like us. Looking for that shiny, distinguishable idea—that he would craft around Made In Lagos. It would take two years though for that to happen.
Having firstly teased Made In Lagos as a shorter version —an EP—the Manya crooner went on a fiery mode, unleashing the first single, Soco and later Fake Love. Add the DJ Spinall’s duet, Nowo, Wizkid was atoning for the misses of 2017.
With his international debut, Sounds From The Other Side failing to catch on locally and for the intended audience, Wizkid sought to create a sonic formula that would work.
But in looking, Wizkid kept digging. Songs were teased, other artists were seen in the studio, producers put out snippets—it showed Wizkid was endlessly creating.
And this time it wasn’t only with his usual collaborators, the search for the perfect idea of his made him scour around for other creatives. On board came Killertunes and Northboi. Then to test if these ideas were working, the artist himself put out a trio of leaks on SoundCloud. The vibe was more chilled, smooth and low tempo, far from the brassy sound template Nowo and Soco were crafted on.
More creatives would join the train. Snippets were still in circulation. Made In Lagos, anticipated in 2018. But that didn’t happen and the singer would take a break at the beginning of 2019. Coming back in April, Wizkid convened an Instagram live where he showcased a handful of new works he’s worked on. It was believed the album would drop in a few weeks that period.
But while that album eventually dropped late last year perhaps due to some delays, it took Wizkid some years to eventually get to a state of satisfaction. This was after creating junks and junks of tracks. This was after working with producers. This was after thousands of hours in several studios around different locations in the world.
What can creatives learn:
1. You can’t achieve quality without creating much of something at first. You aren’t called a pro unless you’ve proved your expertise at your craft—producing, writing or designing like a hundred or even a thousand of works. Quality is a function of quantity.
2. Wizkid must have had a selection headache while finalizing the tracklist for Made In Lagos. He probably had a large volume of work to choose from. Wizkid isn’t the only artist employing this tactic.
Artists make a lot of stuff but use their judgement and taste to decide what to release. This strategy of selection makes for a more limited body of work. Done properly and promoted well, it could lead to a stronger reputation and legacy in the years to come.
For example, among the 50 greatest pieces of music ever created, six belong to Mozart, five are Beethoven’s, and three Bach’s. But in order to create those, Mozart wrote over 600 compositions, Beethoven 650, and Bach over 1,000.
3. This approach also shows up in business. Author Leander Kahney, who has written a few books on Apple, says in an interview: “A lot of companies will do six or seven prototypes of a product because each one takes time and money. Apple will do a hundred — that’s how many they did of the MacBook. Steve Jobs doesn’t wake up one morning and there’s a vision of an iPhone floating in front of his face. He and his team discovered it through this exhaustive process of building prototype after prototype.”
This article was written by Olabode Otolorin; connect on Instagram with him here