Wizkid charts a global journey for African artists
At first, the artist nicknamed the Little Prince – a nickname that would evolve into Wizkid – struggled to be taken seriously. “In every room I went to, people didn’t even want to hear me speak because they thought I was too young,” recalls Wiz, now 31.
“He was the first type of kid star to have a young fan base with him,” says Balogun, who is of Nigerian descent. “He felt like a forerunner of a new era.”
As Balogun explains, when he and Wiz were growing up, established Nigerian stars like Fela Kuti and King Sunny Adé “were adult men in their forties and fifties.” Before his death at the age of 58, Kuti created the model for Afrobeat, which gained a worldwide following due to his heavy percussion fusion of funk, jazz, fuji and highlife with shameless lyrics. policies. Its 21st century polyrhythmic offshoot, Afrobeats, is rooted in popular West African music, but incorporates influences from outside the continent (British gray, Jamaican dancehall, American hip-hop) as well as heartfelt lyrical content that resembles to R&B.
Wizkid’s rise was concomitant with that of the Afrobeats, although he took it in a more hip-hop direction. He had heavily honed his freestyle skills and was rapping about going out girls, wearing designer clothes and getting out of the neighborhood. His 2014 track “Ojuelegba” – named after a region of Surulere – told the story of his work and the prayers of his loved ones throughout his slow career, and offered a ray of hope to young Nigerians who feared. never to get there. outside of their own environment. It has dominated the airwaves across Africa, landing at No.1 on Capital Xtra’s Afrobeats chart in February 2015.
“It tells an incredible story that many people in Africa can relate to,” Pollock says of the song, which Wiz calls “the African national anthem.” “Wizkid gives hope to Africans. There are kids who grew up with nothing, but then they see, “Oh, Wiz had a very similar journey, and look at him now.” Songs like “Ojuelegba,” where people can relate to it lyrically because they experience it physically, give people hope in their hearts, like, “Fk, this can actually happen to me. “”
It erupted beyond Lagos when Wiz’s fellow across the pond, British grime artist Skepta, played it for Drake, who was so “in the moment” when he got him. heard, he said at the time, that he decided to jump on the record. . In July 2015, the official remix “Ojuelegba” premiered on Drake’s OVO Sound radio, where the rapper continued to feature Wiz’s songs as well as their future collaborations and previously unreleased loosies. After the success of “One Dance”, Wiz was ready to take on the world: he joined Chris Brown on tour in Europe, was the headliner of One Africa Music Fest at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and in 2017 had signed a multialbum contract with RCA and Sony Music. International.