Artist Focus: Wizkid
The Starboy’s light shines brighter than ever!
Real name: Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun Stage name: Wizkid Date of birth: Ogun Nationality: Nigerian Genre: Afrobeat, Dancehall, Pop
There is hardly anyone in Nigeria that hasn’t heard of the sensation known as Wizkid. The diminutive star’s imprint is everywhere in the country; his name has become synonymous with superstardom and his legacy will endure for a long time to come. But his story is like that of anyone who dared to rise above the mediocrity of the average life of insignificance to conquer the world with sheer talent and raw determination.
Wizkid is a singer and songwriter born in Surulere, Lagos and grew up in a household with a total of thirteen children (he is the only boy in the midst of twelve female siblings). His father has three wives and he is the last of his mother’s six children. His mother is a Pentecostal Christian while his father is a Muslim.
Growing up, he listened to songs by King Sunny Ade, Fela Kuti, and Bob Marley.
Wizkid attended Ijebu Ode Grammar School and proceeded to the Higher Institution where he dropped out twice; he left Lagos State University (LASU) and Lead City University in 2009 to pursue a career in music. His parents weren’t pleased with his choice to venture into music. He has stated that he had to work hard and spend a lot of time in the studio to gain his father’s trust.
His musical talent had started manifesting at the age of 11 when he started singing in his church choir and he formed a group called The Glorious Five with a few of his church pals. The group released an album before going their separate ways.
Wizkid was mentored and coached by Naeto C when he was 15 years old and worked with the same alongside OJB Jezreel, Ikechukwu, and M.I. while honing his music skills.
He signed a record deal in 2009 with Banky W’s Empire Mates Entertainment (E.M.E.) and began recording his debut studio album Superstar that same year, releasing Holla At Your Boy as the album’s lead single on January 2010. It earned him the Next Rated Award at The Headies 2011.
Holla At Your Boy was also nominated for Best Pop Single at The Headies and its video was nominated for Most Gifted Newcomer Video at the 2011 Channel O Music Video Awards. It earned another nomination for Best Afro Pop Video at the 2011 Nigeria Music Video Awards (NMVA).
Wizkid released Tease Me/Bad Guys as the album’s second single. It was initially released as a freestyle track.
The album was officially released on June 12, 2011, by Empire Mates Entertainment. It combines elements of R&B, dancehall, and reggae. Different talented music producers worked on the album and it had other artists like Banky W, Skales, D’Prince, and Wande Coal as guest performers.
Wizkid was a part of the E.M.E. acts that toured the United States after the release of their compilation album. The tour kicked off on July 2012 and ended on the 2nd of September, 2012.
Not wanting relent in his efforts and take time to bask in his newfound fame and popularity, the music artist started working on his second album in 2012. Titled Ayo, it featured Femi Kuti, Banky W, Seyi Shay, Phyno, Tyga, Akon, and Wale.
The lead single for the second album was titled Jaiye Jaiye and was released on the 2nd of May 2013. Wizkid collaborated with Femi Kuti on the track.
Having fully established himself as one of the country’s most talented performers, Wizkid performed at the 2013 edition of Felabration, an annual music concert dedicated to the late Fela Kuti.
On the 5th of January 2015, the music video of Ojuelegba was released. The song highlights his struggles in the early years of his music career. The remix featured Drake and Skepta.
Wizkid announced that he was working on a new album during his visit to London on October 2014, revealing his single with Chris Brown titled African Bad Gyal. It was meant to be the lead single of the upcoming album. He and Chris Brown performed the song together at the latter’s concert in Durban, South Africa in April 2015.
April 5, 2016, saw Wizkid become the first Nigerian artist to be on Billboard’s Twitter Last 24 Hours Chart following his guest feature on Drake’s One Dance single which charted at number 21. The song reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and stayed there for 10 non-consecutive weeks.
Wizkid’s third studio album Sounds from the Other Side was released on 14 July 2017. It features artists like Drake, Major Lazer, Chris Brown, Ty Dolla Sign, Efya, Bucie, and Trey Songz. Its release was preceded by three singles; Daddy Yo featuring Efya, Sweet Love and Come Closer with Drake.
Seeing his artistry and wanting to be associated with him, different brands came calling and he signed a one-year endorsement deal with Pepsi reportedly worth $350,000 in 2012 and was signed with Guinness in October 2013 in another endorsement deal for the Guinness World of More concert which took place at the Eko Convention Centre of the Eko Hotel and Suites in Victoria Island, Lagos on the 3rd of November 2013.
Wizkid signed yet another deal with Telecom giant Glo worth N128 million on 18 June 2015. He announced in August 2014 that he would leave E.M.E. record label and it was revealed on March 2013 that he had established his own label, Starboy Entertainment. He said setting up the imprint was to give up-and-coming artists a platform to showcase their talent. He signed Maleek Berry in April 2013 and L.A.X. in August that same year.
With fame and celebrity status comes controversy and Wizkid has had his own fair share, clashing with the likes of Banky W, Skales, Davido, Dammy Krane, and actress Tonto Dikeh.
His close association with fellow singer Tiwa Savage sparked dating rumors in 2018 and the video of his song Fever seemed to confirm the speculation with it showing the steaming chemistry between the two.
As one of Nigeria’s most commercially successful music artists, Wizkid continues to set the bar high for others and is an inspiration for those who believe that no dream is too big to be a reality.