After signing a worldwide record deal with Sony, Nigeria’s first son of the afrobeats music genre – WizKid – is aiming to be a household name for the future of the movement.
In April this year he dropped yet another huge Drake collaboration track – “Come Closer” – after their original pairing on last years song of the summer – “One Dance.”
WizKid is a globally adored music superstar, who moves easily throughout Africa and the world, between his native Afro-Beat and Hip-Hop, Fela and Drake. His musical range speaks to WizKid’s vision of 21st century youth culture where “all the music of the world is coming together.”
At London’s East end venue The Curtain, this week, hundreds of afrobeats fans gathered for a VIP listening party for WizKid’s new album titled Sounds From The Other Side.
As a child, WizKid (born Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun) listened to the music of Nigerian Afro-Beat masters King Sunny Ade and Fela, the latter remaining a key musical influence on him. Bob Marley had a regular place on the family turntable and remains an artist WizKid turns to for relaxation. Through friends, he got introduced to American MCs who were making an impact in Nigeria such as Bow Wow, Master P and Snoop Dogg.
Female and male fans were dressed to impress in glamorous outfits and sharp suits to see Nigeria’s finest perform a few tracks from his album’s past, present and future. WizKid’s full-on introduction to U.S. audiences couldn’t come at a better time since 2016 truly established his prominence on the international scene. MTV EMA named him Best Worldwide Act. The British MOBO Awards recognized WizKid as Best African Act, while at the MTV MAMA Awards he won Best Collaboration, Best Male Artist and Artist of the Year. Another confirmation of WizKid’s global popularity is that he is the first Nigerian musician to be featured on Billboard and the first Nigerian musician to reach one million followers on Twitter.
Joining him onstage during the very hot, energetic set were the British grime music genre King Skepta, about whom Wiz stated ”without this man much wouldn’t have been possible, I thank him so much, he also mediated my get-together with Drake so thank you my brother Skepta!”.
Although Afro-Beat’s undulating rhythms can be heard throughout his music, WizKid is reluctant to define his musical style. “It’s hard for me to describe what I do,” he says, “since I work with rhythms from Afro-Beat, reggae, hip-hop, dance hall and others. What’s important to me is for music to be real, authentic, raw and timeless. I don’t wanna be boxed in to any one genre.”
Henessey cocktails and jollof rice boxes – with chicken and veg options – as well as donuts were distributed so the crowd went home with satisfied stomachs, taste-buds, ears and hearts.
WizKid’s two solo albums – Superstar (2011) and Ayo (2014), established him as both one of the most beloved artists in Africa and a performer with global appeal. The love his appearance with Drake on the track “One Dance” received domestically (it reached number one in the United States and in nine other countries) is a harbinger of things to come.
At the end of his set both the crowd and WizKid were done!