Essentials: Wande Coal Polarizes On “Legend Or No Legend”
Wande Coal, in his latest project, continues in his most polarizing form; exciting and confusing throughout “Legend or No Legend”.
Clarence Mac Ebong
●24th May 2023
The announcement of Wande Coal’s latest project, Legend or No Legend, sent a wave of excitement through Nigerians’ hearts. It felt like the return of a hero; one who vanished for several years into the wilderness before blessing us with his presence. Only that Wande Coal never vanished. His releases were few and far between, feeling more like snacks rather than a full-course feast. After releasing Realms, Wande left enjoyers of his music pining for more because they felt he could do better.
WC proves to be a polarizing character. Discourse on social media goes around in circles before ending up with a disjointed picture that paints Wande Coal as some form of lazy artist. Some insist on ripping him of his legendary status simply because they seem not to understand that eras end and cycles change. With the release of Legend, however, all who fell asleep came back to life, reinvigorated by the prospect of mind-blowing records from the “So Mi So” crooner.
We’re ushered into Wande Coal’s latest attempt at dispelling the criticism he’s faced since Realms with a faint cry of “legend o!” on the opening “Nobody Holy”. He scats within and around Dunni’s production, feeling his way through a drum-filled mid-tempo bounce. At once, you’re not convinced about how Wande catches the beat, and for the next two tracks until “3 Square Meal”, you might wonder what his plan for the album is. The latter feels flattest as it seems like he’s recording on autopilot.
It is normal for albums to have fillers, but opening with three at a stretch leaves you impatiently waiting for when the fun starts. “Dues” brings that, however, with a trap element that takes its root in records like the 2012 “Private Trips”. At this point, the project takes a new turn. The bounces become familiar, and Wande Coal seems more at home. “Genesis” hooks you once it starts, and Wande’s delivery is ballsy and intense on Kel-P’s production. Wizkid’s guest appearance is one of the album’s highlights. He shares great synergy with WC accentuated by P.Priime’s delicate beat. “Ebelebe” progresses smoothly, slowly immersing you with every new element that becomes active in the song.
Throughout Legend, it is clear that Wande has not lost it. He is still at the top of his game vocally as shown in “Kpe Paso” and “Let Them Know”. It is true that some elements of the album’s cohesion take points off this body of work. However, the sense of exaggeration in the online discourse of how “poor” it is shows that listeners are stuck in the past regarding their evaluation of Wande Coal’s artistry at this point in time. And even at points where the music feels unfamiliar, it is not entirely surprising. It is ingenuity like that which brought records like “So Mi So” and “Sister Girl” to life.
Maybe Wande Coal should be more intentional about the little details. Legend Or No Legend certainly could’ve felt better from start to finish. But it is disingenuous to claim that Legend is anything but a good project. Right from the title, he welcomes you to pick a side. And regardless of whatever your choice may be, the fact remains: Wande Coal’s legend status is undeniable.