Album Review: Oggie, ‘Wings’

Listen to Wings

Oggie’s third album, Wings, is the UK garage mainstay and singer-songwriter’s most personal and vulnerable to date. Written mostly in the covid lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, the 12 tracks take listeners through his conceptions of deep inner reflection, and how the healing borne of that radiates into relationships. More so than any of his previous releases, Wings offers listeners a window into Oggie’s personal life and thoughts. Oggie cited Janet Jackson’s Velvet Rope and Joni Mitchell’s Blue as inspirations for a more introspective and honest approach to writing. His versatility across different styles is matched by his vocal chops, his turns of voice and harmonies drawing out the catchiness of the hooks and spanning the range of emotions explored in the album. 

“I think this time around it was being in the right place and being a lot more true to what I really love musically at this particular time. I love all styles of music, loads of different genres, I’ve never been able to condense it. Where I’m at at that time, people would send me beats and I’d be true to how I was really feeling. That was very therapeutic at that time. “

Whereas the album’s arc reflects Oggie’s personal experiences, the list of collaborators are a testament to his southeast London musical upbringing and career. His brother, Nelson Ekaragha, did the album artwork. From his work singing backing vocals on tour with the Jacksons, he met their guitarist Kyle Bolden, who produced the funky ‘I Love.’ 

Oggie’s long-term collaborator Ali Rojas produced most of the album, including the opening title track. In ‘Wings,’ Oggie sets himself on a steady and assured course over a sparse lo-fi beat, at times only his acapella voice carrying the track – truly beginning his introspective journey alone. 

For the rest of the album, Oggie spreads his wings, reflection giving rise to deeper relationships. Each track shows his vocal versatility and his undeniably catchy writing. Producer Big Lee joins him on ‘Numb,’ its infectious chorus keeping listeners in the torment of emotional uncertainty and burnout.

‘Holla at Me,’ produced by Skout, evokes the heavy metallic pop of Lady Gaga’s and Beyonce’s ‘Telephone’ (granted, Oggie’s song is about being there for someone, whereas ‘Telephone’ is about being unreachable at the club). ‘To Love A Man’ is about the power of love in everyday life, but a few tracks later Wings Oggie takes a turn into the erotic with ‘Dreamboy,’ his vocals patiently drawing out its unfettered raunchiness.  

Oggie takes listeners out of his head and onto the dancefloor with the heady, unforced ‘Wavey,’ featuring Nics’ raw vocals melding with AMR’s verse. Long-time listeners of Oggie familiar with his dance tracks will be satiated with the back-to-back tracks ‘Mandarin’ (featuring a verse from Revrent, Oggie’s brother Dean Ekaragha) and heavy synth brass in ‘Sweet Medicine’ (produced by Dominik Soth).

My favorite song is ‘To Love a Man.’ Produced by Oggie’s former United Vibrations bandmate Ahmad Dayes and featuring rapper King Dee (whom Oggie found through TikTok), the track is an unapologetic masculine anthem about male love that focuses on its everyday mundanities, and tying it into global struggles elsewhere (he mentions the Ukraine’s ongoing war defending against Russians). “We do have a lot of media stereotypes, what it is to be a gay male. In reality, that’s not really it. We can understand why representation is important, but you can’t force people to not be themselves.”