Solid Star might still be just shy of breaking into music’s A-List, but his years on the grind have attracted many high profile friends his way and he wants you to know it. Otherwise how else can you explain the intimidating guest list on his third studio album, W.E.E.D.? Just in case you were wondering, W.E.E.D. is short code for Witness Everything Exceptionally Different.
I know I know, it doesn’t even make much sense but more on that later.
Back to his coterie of friends. The force is heavy with Solid Star as he secures the services of names like 2Baba, Davido, Phyno, Timaya, Diamond Platinumz and Burna Boy. Note that this list is not near exhaustive. He has worked with Tiwa Savage and Flavour previously and their dynamic must have been so hot, they agree to return for another merry go round.
The album opener, Emergency is quite entertaining and makes for a decent welcome. Produced by P Banks, who does the bulk of the work on the disc, Emergency is a stylish name drop orgy where Solid Star tries to impress us with his connections. The song survives a cringey first line, (That girl with a booty like Toolz) and goes on to show some impressive quick thinking. Solid Star tells the subject of his affections, I can’t lie to you, Alhaji Tekno go tell you to Duro/And if you want to see Banga Lee, that na Emergency.
Solid Star knows how to gather the talent, he knows how to make the occasional hit, but 3 albums in, he still hasn’t figured out how to make a good album, or a short one. He also does not know how to effectively deploy the talent that he’s gathered. Savage and Patoranking bring their unforced chemistry to the Wait refix and Davido is his usual average self on the original, but he underuses 2baba and allows him to get away with putting in next to zero effort on the uneven Nwa Baby.
Timaya is capable of rescuing even the most banal of songs and he brings some life to the otherwise forgettable Silicon and the familiar, dance ready beat to Trigger me, coupled with Mr Eazi’s breezy voice work sustains some interest that Solid Star cannot quite manage on his own.
Diamond Platinumz’s smoulder is enough to brighten any song he appears in and his low key trills (on Money) are always a pleasure to listen to. Apart from extending the invitation, Solid Star has little to do with how his guest stars decide to show up. Indeed on most of the songs he comes across as the weak link, incapable of generating as much excitement or interest solo.
When Solid Star is left to his own devices, he goes the Ghanaian route on Shokor but with no extra tricks up his sleeve, his lack of charisma quickly sinks duds like Flirt, For You and Fashion Killer. His primary constituency is dancehall but he accommodates the vast cornucopia of sounds that the term Afrobeats has come to represent.
At 21 songs, W.E.E.D is overlong, unforgivably so. But then Solid Star adds two more bonus tracks, just in case. Going by the album’s strange title, there is nothing different to be experienced, much less exceptional.
The problem with W.E.E.D is the problem with Solid Star and artistes of his ilk. They are in it strictly for commercial reasons and will try whatever sound is resonating with the people. There is nothing wrong with wanting to make money and seeking attract a wide audience but a little character wouldn’t hurt. Even after 23 songs, Solid Star is still as blank as he’s been since he first arrived. Nothing new to see here.