Out of Africa, a star is born. Wizkid – real name Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun – or Wizzy or Starboy as some of us know him, is starting to push his way through mainstream speakers, stereos and TV screens across the globe with his “bangers” that have fast become hit singles and classics in his native Nigeria over the past two years. He has proven to be very successful and consistently relevant in the African music landscape since 2010, with the 23-year old artist and songwriter often referred to as the “Pop Prince of Africa”. Wizkid started his music career in a Church choir, just like many famous artists before him such as Whitney Houston and Beyonce, but who knew this young lad would become the household name that he is today as he embarks on conquering the international stage in 2013.
Most popular for singles such as “Don’t Dull”, “Pakurumo” and “Tease Me/Bad Guys” from his critically acclaimed debut album Superstar as well as the more recent “Azonto” and “Back To The Matter”, this “Lagos boy” is certainly putting himself more and more on the world map and as he recently attested to during a BBC Radio 1Xtra interview, his accent to the top of his game has certainly not come easy. Wizkid describes himself as a studio rat who spends as much time as he can, at recording studios creating that next big record for our hungry ears.
With massive features and collaborations with the likes of Iyanya, R2Bees, Lynxxx, Bracket and Burna Boy over the last two years, WizKid is not only firmly keeping himself at the forefront of African music but also feeding his fans and audiences’ appetite for new music, while they wait for his sophomore album. As we continue to go back and forth on the release date of this second album (the earlier-announced June 12 release date was scrapped, an unofficial album tracklist was leaked in the Summer and news surfaced that the album won’t be released until 2014), the singles that have come from this record have been nothing short of amazing and genius.
The album’s lead single “Jaiye Jaiye” featuring Afrobeat legendar Femi Kuti is a braggadocios number that talks about all the things Wizkid has accomplished and all he is yet to accomplish while giving thanks to the reason for his success – God. With lyrics like “I’ve thought through defeat now I am living a better life and I’m thankful for the life that I am living“, the single embodies the literal meaning of “Jaiye Jaiye” which translate to “live life” with Wizkid confessing that he intends to do just that with all that God has blessed him with. “Jaiye Jaiye” was sung in his native Yoruba language which definitely adds that extra feel of the story he is trying to tell us on this record, which also incorporated a Jazz influence with glorious staccato saxophone and brass sections – but of course it would! It’s got none other than the great Femi Kuti on the record, coupled with production work from Trybes Records-signed beatsmith Sarz.
“Jaiye Jaiye” featuring Femi Kuti:
The Legendury Beatz-produced “Talk”, another song released from the forthcoming album, is a very strong “statement” track as several critics described. The song talks about the constant scrutiny and speculation which he faces as he tries to make seemingly normal life-decisions. Especially making mention of the kerfuffle that occurred when he recently bought a new Porsche, crashed it and subsequently had it replaced, he uses “Talk” as ample opportunity to address the ‘Bad Bele’ people that had so much to say about it. Putting the “haters” in their place, The song cleverly describes the stark contrast in our interest in WizKid’s life between when he was a struggling artist and now.
In addition to working hard on delivering his hugely anticipated sophomore album, Wizkid has also been in the studio with ‘The Gifted’ rapper and Maybach Music Group signee Wale working on some collaborative efforts. The first of which is the recently released “Drop” which immediately went viral when Wizkid debuted the record on Twitter. A song definitely for the ladies, “Drop” starts off with a few words from Wale but the after a few seconds, the Legendury Beatz-crafted beat drops with Wizzy giving us his freshest lyrics as always. The song describes a lady which the pair find attractive and are both interested in (but I mean, who wouldn’t be?). The chorus, with the lyrics “let your panty drop for me” mentioned a few times, is pretty much self-explanatory and both Wale and Wiz talk about their money, status and more girls, as you do.
“Drop” featuring Wale:
Africa’s very own Prince of Pop has been very busy over the past twelve months outside of recording these monster hits with performances at BBC 1Xtra Live late last year, Wireless Festival over the Summer and at several gigs across the UK and with recent nominations at the MTV Europe Music Awards and the MOBO Awards this year, we know for sure that his hard work is paying off. Having signed an international management deal with Disturbing London who also manage Tinie Tempah earlier in the year, we simply cannot wait for what the “Star boy” and Disturbing London have in store for UK audiences in the coming months.
Wizkid’s passion for music and steady growth internationally really shows a determination and drive that is refreshing to see but it also gives a strong sense of guidance to emerging artists who aspire to reach the heights that he has and will reach. So what can we expect from this so-far-elusive sophomore album? Features from Femi Kuti (as mentioned before) as well as collaborations with Banky W, Don Jazzy, Efya and Seyi Shay among others if that leaked tracklist is to be believed. Whatever the case and based on the songs that he has released this year, Wizkid’s sophomore album is poised to set new standards for African music on the international stage and is certainly worth all the wait, so dear global music community, I implore you to keep your eyes peeled and your ears open for this Starboy because WizKid is only just getting started.