by Wilfred Okiche

Waje Album cover

Since her sizzling albeit uncredited turn in the P-Square monster hit, ‘Do me’ back in 2005 and subsequent romance with the spotlight, Waje has repeatedly had to answer this question at interviews ‘When is the album dropping?’ Year after year, the answers and dates kept changing. In the month of May 2013 however, imagination became reality and her self titled debut hit stores.

She can now heave a big sigh of relief. It has been worth the wait.

It is the first half of the year and ‘Words arent just enough’ is the year’s best album. So far.

Talented vocalists do not necessarily make the best records perhaps because they believe (sometimes rightfully so) that their voices-large and domineering- will get them everywhere. Not always true. Waje’s sights are on the future. The album’s central sound is dance-themed. Techno thrilling, bass synthing and ear splitting oversinging. But all in a good way. It is at once African but with a contemporary global appeal.

There are local instruments, sounding loud and strong on the Del B produced ‘Oko Mi’ and the rural moonlight sing along rhymes of ‘Onye’ is a surprise hit as Waje tones it down drastically to accommodate Tiwa Savage’s vocal trillings. The hot guitar on the high-lifey ‘Na the way’ remix would have done fine enough with Waje’s smooth vocal run but she goes the extra mile and brings on Ghaniaian wunderkid Sarkodie as well as a surprisingly exciting J Martins.

Working with heavyweight producers from Cobhams to Spellz,  Waje seems to do her best work with E Kelly. Their two collaborations; ‘Ijeoma’ and ‘Black and white’ instantly stand out. She sings the chorus mellismatically over a thumping, scorching beat that is at once traditional and euro pop laced. ‘Black and white’ is old school diva soul that hearkens to Mariah Carey in ‘The emancipation of Mimi’- with rappers Eva and Phyno taking turns to flex muscles.

Cobhams shows up for the power ballads ‘No be you’ and ‘Higher and she knocks them right out of the park almost effortlessly, recalling the best of them from Whitney to J. Hudson. ‘No tomorrow’ is a dance record with a Kwaito slant that could have been recorded by her bestie Omawumi.

There is a dirty surprise in ‘Grind’, a sweaty, sticky 3:55minutes ride with Burna Boy that is sure to leave you all freaky, hot and flustered.  Every song feels essental and even the weak ones here (Fine girl, Onye) would be highlights on a lesser talent’s album. There is a stubborn refusal to be placed in any box as she tries out as many sounds as she can.

The lesson Waje may (or may not) have learnt from her predecessor Yinka Davies who put out a belated faultless double disc ‘Black chiffon’ in 2011 is that great music should not be rushed. And this is the same lesson ‘WAJE’ perpetuates. Times have changed, stars can be made from hot singles but real artistes have to go the extra mile. Lots of celebrities dot the current pop landscape but only few will ever enjoy the privilege of being called real artistes.

With this rich effort, Waje leaves her competition in the dust and inches steps closer.