Afrobeats360 Artiste Of The Week : Wizkid

For someone who already had a music album to his name at a very young age, one wouldn’t need a soothsayer to tell that Wizkid’s musical talent is God given.

In all, somewhere along the line of his music journey as a teenager, he was banned from making use of any studio equipment for a whole year. Wizkid was subsequently asked to watch others who were better and older than him record and make music.

However, his ability to see the ban as not in anyway questioning his God given talent but rather, a learning process, combined with his trust, consistency, hardwork and hunger for success turned his big dreams into reality.

Wizkid has continued to push boundaries, set and break records, and all these have kept him at the fore front of “Afrobeats To The World Movement’.

Name: Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun
D.O.B: 16 July 1990 (age 30)

Years active: 2001–present
Label: E.M.E, Starboy, RCA, Sony

Early Life

Born 16th July, 1990, in Surulere, Lagos, Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, better known as Wizkid grew with twelve female siblings. His mother, a Pentecostal Christian and his father a Moslem. Wizkid attended Ijebu Ode Grammar School and later gained admission into Lagos State University (LASU) where he dropped out. He later gained admission into Leeds University in Ibadan where he dropped out again to fully focus on his music career.

Music Journey

As a young lad, he grew up listening to King Sunny Ade, Fela Kuti and Bob Marley.

Wizkid already knew that it was music or music for him, even at a very tender age.

In an interview, Wizkid said he formed a group called the ‘Glorious Five’ with a couple of church friends back in the days. They managed to release an album prior to their breakup. During this time, Wizkid went by the stage name – Lil Prinz, until 2006. He later met the late OJB Jezreel, a record producer who prevented him from recording for a year to test his patience and instill discipline in him. While visiting OJB’s Point Beat Studios frequently, he watched 2 Face Idibia record songs for his Grass 2 Grace album.
He was also present during the recording sessions for Sound Sultan’s debut album Jagbajantis.

To Wizkid, Naeto C was one of the people who mentored and coached him when he was much younger.

Meeting Banky W and getting Signed to Empire Mates Entertainment was a dream come true for Wizkid.

While backing up female artiste Kel at a show, Banky W, the Rnb singer and chairman of the now defunct record label Empire Mates Entertainment spotted him. They got talking and this led to Wizkid’s record deal with EME in 2009. He co-wrote “Omoge You Too Much”, a song from Banky W- The W Experience album. He also worked with Naeto C, Ikechukwu and M.I while developing his craft.

Superstar- Debut Album

Superstar album cover art

Wizkid began recording his debut studio album, ‘Superstar’, in 2009. He released “Holla at Your Boy” as the album’s lead single on 2nd January, 2010.

On 2nd April 2010, Wizkid released “Tease Me/Bad Guys” as the album’s second single. “Don’t Dull”, the album’s third single, was released on 6th December, 2010. Superstar album was recorded in English and Yoruba respectively. It was released on 12th June, 2011 by Empire Mates Entertainment.
The album incorporates elements of Afrobeats, R&B, dancehall and reggae. While working on Superstar, Wizkid collaborated with record producers such as E-Kelly, Jay Sleek, Shizzi, DJ Klem, Masterkraft, Q-Beats and Samklef. The album features guest appearances from Banky W, Skales, D’Prince and Wande Coal.

‘Super Star’ album has been classified by many as an “all hit no miss” album and has also been placed in the league of best albums in the past three decades by a lot of Afrobeats listeners.

E.M.E Tour

Wizkid toured London in 2012 and performed at the HMV Apollo on 4th June, 2012. He worked with Banky W, Skales, Shaydee and Niyola to record E.M.E’s compilation album Empire Mates State of Mind (2012).

Following the album’s release, E.M.E acts toured the United States. The tour kicked off in July and ended in September 2012. EME acts performed in several cities, including Houston, Dallas, Toronto, Vancouver, New York City, Providence, Calgary, Atlanta, Washington DC and Chicago. On 12th November, 2012, Wizkid performed at the BBC Radio 1Xtra Live 02 Academy in Brixton alongside Trey Songz, Tulisa, Kendrick Lamar and Angel.

Ayo- Sophomore Album

Album art for AYO

Wizkid spent three years recording his ‘Sophomore’ album ‘Ayo’. It featured Femi Kuti, Banky W., Seyi Shay, Phyno, Tyga, Akon and Wale. The album’s production was handled by Sarz, Shizzi, Uhuru, Del B, Dokta Frabz, Maleek Berry, Legendury Beatz and Spellz. On 6th September, 2014, Wizkid revealed the album’s cover art and track listing.
On 2nd May, 2013, Wizkid released the album’s lead single “Jaiye Jaiye”, featuring Grammy-nominated Nigerian musician Femi Kuti. On 17th October 2013, he performed at the 2013 edition of Felabration, a yearly concert dedicated to Fela Kuti. The Del B-produced “On Top Your Matter” was released as the album’s second single on 26th October, 2013. The music video was directed and shot in South Africa by Sesan. And on 17th September, 2014, he finally released the album.

Exit From E.M.E

In February 2013, Wizkid put up a tweet that implied he was done with E.M.E.
He also moved out of the E.M.E mansion in Lagos and acquired his own home in the Lekki Phase 1 area. Prior to Wizkid’s implicit tweets, E.M.E boss Banky W pacified fans by assuring them that all was well at the empire. However, it was later reported that the troubles within E.M.E began as early as the E.M.E All Stars concert in 2012. It was also reported that money was at the centre of the controversy. On 30th April, 2013, Nigerian Entertainment Today reported that Wizkid and E.M.E had reunited after contract negotiations.

In all, Wizkid departed E.M.E following the release of his second studio album and the expiration of his five-year contract. In a video interview with Capital Xtra in October 2019, Wizkid said he left E.M.E without any money.

Starboy Entertainment

Wizkid immediately setup his own record label- Starboy Entertainment in March 2013. In an interview, he revealed that he had established his own record label to give up-and-coming artists a platform to showcase their talent. In April 2013, Wizkid signed Maleek Berry and Legendury Beatz to his imprint. With Maleekberry handling the production, he made that 2013 smash hit “The Matter”. On 7th May, 2016, Wizkid announced the signed partnership deal of Efya, R2Bees, and Mr Eazi to his Starboy entertainment. He made the announcement following his performance at the 17th edition of the Ghana Music Awards. In 2018, Wizkid signed Terri into Starboy Entertainment, he made the announcement via his Twitter account.

The Afrobeats Crossover

Wizkid performing on stage

Ojuelegba, which is the fifth track on Wizkid’s sophomore album-Ayo was remixed in 2015 by Canadian rapper-singer Drake alongside British Nigerian rapper Skepta. This marked the beginning of Wizkid playing his role in taking Afrobeats to the world.

Ojuelegba is a song that paints a picture of the struggles he endured in the early years of his recording career. And with Drake jumping on a Wizkid tune, the two linked up to make other songs, one of which is “One Dance” which became a smash hit across the globe.
Drake featured Wizkid on “One Dance” single along with Kyla, on 5th April, 2016. Following this feature, Wizkid became Nigeria’s first ever artist to be listed on Billboards Top 100 chart. “One Dance” charted at number 21 on its first entry into the chart. Eventually, it reached number-one on the
Billboard Hot 100 chart on May 12th, 2016, a position it kept for weeks. “One Dance” went on to become an International smash hit, topping the charts in 15 different countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France and Germany. What’s even more amazing is that “One Dance” is an Afrobeats infused song that topped the charts accross the globe.

SFTOS- Third Studio Album

SFTOS album art

Starboy signed a multi-album deal with RCA Records in March 2017 to further push Afrobeats to the world. His third studio album ‘Sounds from the Other Side’ (SFTOS) was released on 14th July, 2017. SFTOS an Afro-carribean album housed several other genres, including EDM, R&B, and house. The album features guest appearances from Drake, Major Lazer, Chris Brown, Ty Dolla Sign, Efya, Bucie and Trey Songz. Its production was handled by Sarz, Del B, Spellz, Dre Skull, DJ Mustard, Major Lazer, and the Picard Brothers. The 12 tracks album is a perfectly satisfactory musical experiment of Afrobeats blended with other genres. Kudos to Wizzy!

Wizkid was featured on Beyonce’s Brown Skin Girl, the second track on her album full of collaborations from Africa. “The Lion King: The Gift,” became the visual album “Black Is King” last month. The song which is about black cultural pride and female empowerment was released on July 23rd 2019 and it immediately dominated all a music charts. Wizkid on the track, helped spread the message to this part of the world better.

On 6th December, 2019, Wizkid’s label Starboy Entertainment released the EP Soundman Vol. 1, centering mainly on Wizkid, and containing features from Chronixx, and a variety of other artists.

Awards and Achievements

In regards accolades, Wizkid is amongst the most ‘decorated’ artiste in Africa.
Wizkid became the first Afrobeats artist to appear in the 2018 Guinness World Records for his contribution to “One Dance”. He’s also the First African Artiste to bag seven Billboard Nominations. Star boy is currently the Youngest African Artiste to get a Grammy nomination.
He is the only Nigerian musician who not only made the number one spot on the iTunes World Chart, but also maintained that top spot for more than one week courtesy of “One Dance.”
Wizkid is the first African to not only perform and sell out London’s most iconic venue, Royal Albert Hall as headliner, joining musicians like Beatles, Adele, Elton. He sold out the venue in less than 72 hours and had a stellar performance.

First Nigerian to win three Billboard Music Award. Wizkid’s hit collaboration “One Dance” with Drake & Kyla in 2016 earned him all the awards.

Wizkid is also the first Nigerian (if not African), to bag an International award from The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). The award was given to Wizkid in recognition of his role in the writing of Drake’s chart-topping hit single “One Dance”.
Wizkid is the first Afro-pop artiste to appear in the Guinness Book of World Records. This is as a result of his contribution to Drake’s smash hit, ‘One Dance’, which topped several charts worldwide. Although the song is technically Drake‘s single, Wizkid has songwriting credits for ‘One Dance’ which has the Guinness World Record as the most played song on Spotify with over 1 billion streams.

In February 2014, Wizkid became the first Nigerian musician to have over one million followers on Twitter.
With all these achievements by Starboy, and the many more to come when he eventually drops the ‘Made in Lagos’ album, one can’t help but wonder how ‘solo wey tell me say i no go blow‘ must be feeling each time he sees Wizzy on TV or sees Wizzy trending on social media.
His Ojuelegba story is now being listened to by the whole world.
Afrobeats360 wishes the one and only Machalla success and more hits!

Cheers To Our Artiste for this week- Starboy.

Music is the weapon! Leave a comment... keep it clean.