Photography by Nehroo
Wizkid’s rise to greatness was written in the stars a long time ago. At a very young age, he was acquainted with the art. From listening to greats like Fela Kuti and King Sunny Ade, to recording music at the age of 11, and meeting legendary producer – OJB Jezreel, in loving memory; who had him witness studio sessions of veterans, 2face Idibia and Sound Sultan.
You could easily tell the music was for him, he loved it.
He gained prominence in the early days of 2010, upon the release of his hit single, Holla At Your Boy. This came after signing a deal with former record label, Empire Mates Entertainment, owned by R&B artiste and now movie director, Banky W, and his partner – Tunde Demuren, in 2009. In the same year of 2010, Wizkid released 2 other singles titled Tease Meand Don’t Dullwhich also went on to be major hits and led the artiste to winning the Next Rated award at The Headies in 2011, his first major award.
In 2011, he went on to release his debut album, Superstar, arguably the best Nigerian album of the last decade. A 17-track multi-genre album, with songs that went on to be smash hits around the country. At the time, he was just a 20year old young man doing big things; everything he touched seemed to turn to gold. It was his time to shine, but he wasn’t stopping there, not anytime soon.
The artiste went on to release hit singles in the following years which cemented his spot as the golden boy of his generation and virtually everyone loved him. With his thin, smooth vocals, to his captivating lyrics in English and Yoruba, and his energetic sounds to put you in your dancing shoes, he was really set on a path to greatness.
In 2013, he released his single Jaiye Jaiyewhich features Femi Kuti, and is a sample of Fela Kuti’s song, Lady. Wizkid has always pointed out Fela to be one of his greatest influences. He has often sampled his music and even has an alias, Felaback, which appears to be some sort of claim to be either a reincarnate or offspring to the Afrobeat creator. Jaiye Jaiyewent on to be the lead single of his second album, Ayo, which was released in September, 2014. It possessed, Ojuelegba, his breakthrough song on the international scene and what he often calls “the National Anthem.” The album, Ayo, was his last release under the EME record label after his departure that was rumored earlier with his subliminal tweet which stated:
“Don’t take loyalty for stupidity…don’t! Moving on to start all over again!…If they sleep on, you move on!”
It came as no surprise, as artiste-record label feud is an occurrence in the music industry. This led to the birth of his label, Starboy Records.
In July 2015, a surprise remix of Ojuelegbawas released, with vocals from UK rapper and close associate, Skepta and Canadian-US, multiple time Grammy awards winning rapper, Drake. Prior to this, he had announced he was working on a new album which would feature international pop artiste, Chris Brown and a few others. They both performed the song, African Bad Gyal, at Chris Brown’s concert in South Africa, in the same year.
He gained major international attention in 2016, as he featured Drake’s worldwide hit, One Dance. According to Wikipedia, he became Nigeria’s first artiste to be listed on Billboards Twitter Last 24hours chart. The song held the number one spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for 10 consecutive weeks, and topped charts in 15 different countries. He was first rumored to have written the Afrobeats-infused song, and then received the ASCAP plaque for his writing contributions on One Dance, and bagged 3 Billboard awards for the same song.
In 2017, he signed a multi-album deal with RCA records and released his long awaited and highly anticipated third studio album, Sounds from the Other Side.A 12 track multi-genre album which features various international artistes and possesses various hit tracks, including international hit, Come Closer, featuring Drake. The album featured on multiple charts across the world, including the US Billboard 200 and the Canadian Albums Chart. Since then, he’s collaborated with other international acts such as Future, Beyonce, Metro Boomin, Wale, Calvin Harris and a few more.
December 2019 saw the surprise release ofSoundman Vol. 1 by his record label, Starboy. But was centered mainly on him and featured a few other artistes.
Wizkid’s career has so far been one of blissful achievements; he has reached heights most of his peers haven’t. He is often compared to counterpart, Davido, as they’ve both achieved a lot in recent years. For some, it is unnecessary as two kings can co-exist, and for others, it’s healthy competition that keeps them both on their toes; as for every Ronaldo, there is a Messi, and for every Roger Federer, there is a Rafael Nadal.
All in all, Wizkid seems to be in a world of his own, he’s performed at some of the biggest stages in the world, sat amongst notable individuals, earned notable recognitions and bagged multiple awards; local and international. He’s been involved in controversial situations over the years, including being called a dead-beat father by mother of one of his three children, but mostly keeps quiet during these times of serious allegations. He is seen as one who’s humble and likes to keep things a lot personal.
Outside of the music, he’s been partly involved in the fashion industry in recent years, having collaborated with fashion houses – Nike and Moschino, and walking the runway for D&G. He has signed various endorsement deals, both local and international, including the massive $3million deal with the United Bank for Africa (UBA). It is the biggest endorsement deal ever seen in Africa.
The father of three is clearly a pace setter, he’s leading a new generation of artistes. About 11 years ago, he was doing the watching and following, today, he’s leading.
We have seen the growth, we’ve witnessed the greatness. We want to say a big Happy Birthday to a legend at 30. In the words of Ben Franklin:
“At 20 years of age, the will reigns; at 30, the wit…”
We pray for you, good decision making and a brighter path in your career, and we only ask for one thing, give us Made in Lagos, please.