It is often said that imitation is the highest form of flattery and while this saying has been disputed by several creatives, it remains an undebatable fact that inspiration and influences, in whatever form they come are essential to creating masterpieces. This is why in the music scene, musicians often get asked and also speak at length, on their musical influences and role model. Many times when this topic on inspiration is broached in the Nigerian music scene, musicians and emerging talents have been quick to mention Wande Coal with sparkling remarks on the impact his music has had on their decision to create music. Other musicians have gone beyond mentioning him to embodying his style and flows when making music.
Born Wande Ojosipe, today the 18th of October marks the birthday of the many-flows falsetto-voiced singer, Wande Coal, popularly known and self-touted as Black Diamond. He becomes 36 today and with a little quick maths, deducting 2006, the year he officially became active in the music scene from present day, this means he's been in the game for 15 years. So to honour and underscore Wande Coal's inspirational work in the Nigerian music scene, encapsulated by Mayorkun on Davido's The Best with the line, "Shey you sing pass Wande Coal?," in this list, we give a brief rundown of some musicians he has inspired with references from their words to their flows:
1. Musicians inspired by Wande Coal: Wizkid
With a successful and highly memorable US tour in the bag, many younger fans of the Starboy may know little of Wande Coal's influence on his musical journey but before Wizkid became the much-loved Starboy, he had been weaned on the music of Wande Coal. In fact, according to history-privy older fans of the megastar, Wande Coal is an egbon to the singer as he had also learned the ropes from him. Speaking on Wande Coal's influence to his sound, Wizkid had shared on his love for the singer's Mushin To Mo'Hits album saying; "This album changed my life! King Coal @Wandecoal."
Longer standing proof lies on Wizkid's era-defining Superstar album, where Wande Coal made an appearance as the second featured non-EME artiste with his entry on the thirteenth track, For Me.
2. Fireboy DML
Nothing spells out Fireboy DML's unblinking love for Wande Coal, who he has described as his idol, as well as his artistry, than his performance on Peru which embodied the latter so much every listener has stories of surprise and disbelief upon finding out that Fireboy's Peru was devoid of a Wande Coal feature. To date, some fans even swear that Wande Coal was silently featured on the track as a ruse to confuse listeners.
3. Musicians inspired by Wande Coal: Oxlade
Not too long ago, Notjustok had a brief chat tagged Fan Affairs with Oxlade, to get the gist on his experiences with fans, and when we asked him what star he'd be starstruck by if he met, Oxlade's unwavering answer, despite having met him, remained Wande Coal.
Oxlade had even shared in an interview that he had been inspired to do music by Wande Coal saying "Wande is the reason I'm singing. Mushin to Mo'Hits is the reason I went to the studio to record music." With a core-hitting falsetto implemented to touch on themes of love and vulnerability, Oxlade's influence by the Black Diamond is just as clear as their crystalline vocals.
In Davido's The Best which features Mayorkun and a cameo appearance from Wande Coal himself, he tells us he learnt from the best, himself, but prior to that moment, Davido had also stayed with Wande Coal in his house with the latter serving as a role model to the megastar. Sharing this in conversation with Vibe magazine, Wande Coal had said, "Davido left school in Atlanta and came to my house [in Nigeria] twice using his school fees." Wande Coal also shared that he'd given Davido his popular moniker and salute, 'OBO.'
5. Musicians inspired by Wande Coal: Reekado Banks
When Reekado Banks had broken out unto the music scene, he'd taken it by storm in no time, cinching the Headies Next Rated award in 2016 to prove that his voice and artistry was one of a kind. In conversation with Bolanle Austen-Peters of Terra Kulture, the singer shared on Wande Coal inspiring him, clearly stating “One of the first persons I really fell in love with his music was Wande Coal. I got creative with that sound, I really liked what he was up to, and is I really wanted to feel more of that."
Known as Teni Makanaki, Teni the Entertainer among other names, the singer has established herself as a veritable force in the entertainment world with her honeyed blend of Afropop and highlife which she mentions was inspired by Fuji and Afrojuju legends, Kwam 1 and Shina Peters as well as Afropop legend, Wande Coal.
With two generations of Nigerian music greats linked to him, honourable mention being emerging act, YKB, formerly known as Yusufkanbai, and speculation surrounding the cadences of Peruzzi and Barry Jhay being on the long list of acts who have been inspired by the Nigerian born, Black Diamond, it remains without a doubt that Wande Coal has contributed immensely to the growth of Afrobeats as well as Afropop with an unquestionable legacy. Happy birthday to Wande Coal from us at Notjustok!