The Afrobeats genre is home to many talented acts but only a few have a hand in influencing its growth- one of which is Wizkid.
On the 16th of July, 2021, Wizkid clocked 31 years old and fans and music colleagues took to social media to celebrate him not just for adding a new age but how influential he has been to the popularity of Afrobeats.
It’s the year 2010 and a 20-year-old Wizkid dropped “Holla at Your Boy” which was the lead single of his groundbreaking debut album, “Superstar” which he dropped in 2011.
“Superstar” was a range of experimental sounds that explored different genres like Fuji, Afrobeat, Afropop, Reggae/Dancehall and Hip-Hop.
“Superstar” was the starting point for Wizkid as he would go on to achieve much more years to come.
Prior to his solo music career, Wizkid started singing at the age of eleven under the stage name Lil Prinz.
He made his debut with OJB Jezreel. He was also a member of the Glorious Five when he was the same age. The band put out a seven-track album that was only released at the church.
As a result of the bond he had with the late Veteran Producer/artist, OJB Jezreel, Wizkdi was opportune to meet with artists like 2Baba (formerly known as 2Face Idibia), Sound Sultan and Naeto C who he said mentored him.
He was featured on M.I Abaga’s “Fast Money, Fast Cars” which was part of M.I’s debut album, “Talk About It.”
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Biggest Music Runs
Since 2010, Wizkid has always in a way dominated music charts whether he drops a song or not, however, there were phases where he made more impact with songs or his projects.
His first music run was after dropping “Superstar” in 2011. He was on everyone’s lips, both old or young. The singer has set a trend that was inspiring to young upcoming artists.
Wizkid was the industry’s new kid and most favourable artist to feature at that time. It was also during his debut period, other artists like Olamide, Tiwa Savage and later, Davido entered the industry.
Another Memorable music run was in 2015 after he dropped “Ojuelegba.” When one talks about the songs that helped pushed Afrobeats to the global music scene, “Ojuelegba” must certainly be on that list.
The song was Wizkid’s major Breakthrough song that saw him conquering both home and outside the shores. The song gained more popularity after Drake and Skepta jumped on the remix. One could say this was the foundation of the bond that would be formed between him, Drake and Skepta.
The “One Dance” effect
Prior to to his collaboration with Drake, Wizkid had collaborated with foreign artists like Akon, Chris Brown and others but none had much effect on his career like how “One Dance” did.
The song broke numerous records, earning Wizkid a spot on Billboard Hot 100, seven Billboard nominations, three Billboard awards, Most streamed Nigerian artist on any streaming platform, his first number-one single as a featured artist in countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France and Germany.
The song made him the first afro-pop artiste to appear in the Guinness Book of World Records and also the first Nigerian artiste to win an award from the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).
Thanks to the song, he became the only Nigerian artiste to maintain the number one spot on iTunes World Chart for more than one week.
He became the youngest African artist to get nominated for a Grammy award Courtesy of the 2016 Drake album, Views.
Albums and their impacts
While artists like 2Baba, Wande Coal, Timaya, D’banj have a hand in laying the foundation of the trending genre we know as Afropop, Wizkid was its refiner.
“Superstar” is few undisputed classics that Nigerian music has seen in the last 10 years.
All of the songs on the album broke out on their own and became hits over time, including those that didn’t have a single. It was the beginning of Wizkid’s flawless three-year run, in which everything he touched or even breathed turned to gold.
His sophomore album, “Ayo” might not have been groundbreaking as “Superstar,” it was still a smash hit with singles like “Jaiye Jaiye“, “On Top Your Matter,” “One Question,” “Show You the Money,” “Joy,” “Bombay” amongst others.
On his third album, “Sounds from the Other Side,” an evolution of his sound had taken place. Wizkid was becoming a global name and with this be fame came a huge responsibility.
Although SFTOS is mostly a Caribbean-influenced album, it also has elements of Afrobeats, EDM, R&B, and house. It was also his first project to have an impressive line-up of foreign artists such as Drake, Major Lazer, Chris Brown, Ty Dolla Sign, Efya, Bucie and Trey Songz.
This album contained the record-breaking “Come Closer” featuring Drake, the catchy “Daddy Yo” featuring Efya and the melodious “Sweet Love” produced by Sarz.
SFTOS debuted at number 107 on the US Billboard 200 and, “Come Closer” got up to a million views on YouTube 24 hours after its release making Wizkid the first African artiste to achieve this feat.
He would later break his own record with the music video for “Fever” in which Nigerian superstar, Tiwa Savage plays his love interest.
The album was the first Nigerian Album to Chart in both the United State and the United Kingdom.
His fourth album, “Made In Lagos” was the advanced version of SFTOS. “Made In Lagos” took years before its release in 2020.
The album features guest appearances from British artists Skepta and Ella Mai, American R&B singer H.E.R., Jamaican artists Projexx and Damian Marley, and Nigerian artists Burna Boy, Tay Iwar and Terri, and Tems.
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Made in Lagos shattered multiple African streaming records within a week of its release, becoming the first African album to debut in the top ten of the Spotify Global Album chart. Nine days after its release, the album has topped 100 million streams across five platforms, a rare feat for Afro-pop musicians.
As of 2021, the album re-entered the Billboard 200 and spawn a Hot 100 song, “Essence.”
Influence on New School Afropop
There is no denying the fact that Wizkid has a major influence on the New School Afropop sound. The genre has seen a to of growth and evolution over the years and one if its biggest contributors is Wizkid.
Apart from the Azonto craze, it was hard for to Wizkid partake in any trending sound like the Shaku Shaku, Zanku and Amapiano sounds but instead the superstar was building his own path which indirectly new school acts have built their sound upon.
The new school artists who came into the industry as of 2018/2019 have been said to have a sprinkle of the “Wizkid sound” in their songs.
Even in Wizkid’s “Superstar” days, his intros alone were inspiring to a lot of upcoming artists who aspired to achieve the same feats as him.
However, Wizkid was also inspired by Wande Coal who also had a lot of influence on Afropop. Wande Coal’s vocal dexterity was a delight for ears but Wizkid had more appeal among teen fans who later make up his strong Wizkid FC fanbase.
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Is Wizkid the face of Afrobeat?
This question is debatable. While some schools of thought would argue that Afrobeats doesn’t have a face, it’s hard not to side with the other school of thought that sees Wizkid as the face of the movement.
Wizkid is one of the few artists that made Afrobeats music more appealing to the global music scene. Like the singer said in his docuseries for “Superstar @ 10”, Wizkid is no longer just a name but a global brand.