In 2013, on the remix of Ice Prince’s hit song “Aboki”, Ghanian rapper Sarkodie sang “I pray Chineke to go take Wizkid high” and it’s safe to say that little prayer was very well received in the high heavens because 7 years and billions of streams later, Wizkid is one of the most commercially successful African artistes in the world.
Evolving from “Lil Prinz” and developing his sound over time to the point where his soothing vocals and spontaneous melody are a Starboy trademark, Ayodeji Balogun has definitely paid his dues and earned his respects as music royalty.
With the same finesse he used to capture the attention of Nigerians on his debut song Holla At Your Boy, he has been able to sing his way into the hearts of a global audience.
Wiz on Family, Challenges, and Motivation
After his exit from Empire Mates Entertainment popularly known by its acronym “EME”, he began exploring uncharted terrains and experimenting with his sound and image relying only on God and family for motivation.
“My family has been my biggest motivation for everything that I do, my kids, right from when I had them to now more than ever, they are my biggest motivation [they mean everything to me]. Family is the number one thing for me, that keeps me grounded, that keeps me sane and makes me feel like a normal human being.”
The journey to the top didn’t come without challenges or difficulty but somehow he kept the course and did his best to follow through on the vision he had for himself.
“I never relented and kept on working, believing in myself and I still believe in myself more than anyone else. It’s just been years of hard work, belief, and the grace of God.”
Even with naysayers who were convinced that he was setting unrealistic goals for himself, he never sold himself short or shrunk himself to make anyone comfortable.
“I still get people to tell me that every day [laughs] I dream big, I dream very big. Like I said I just believed in myself and there’s nothing you can tell me that will change my perception of who I am or how I am or how great I could be”.
Wiz and The City of Lagos
Any Wizkid fan is aware of his affinity for the bubbling city of Lagos where every day comes with new opportunities and failures aren’t handled with tears but with the reaffirming chant ‘WE MOVE!’. From music at street carnivals to roadside cuisines and the ever-present buses and tricycles which give Lagos its yellowish feel, the city is truly a sight for sore eyes.
Growing up in Ojuelegba, a suburb in the Surulere local government area of Lagos played an important role in shaping Wizkid to be the man he is today.
“The music I grew up listening to walking down the street, the Fuji music that plays from the sound system of people that sell cases on the road, the Makossa that plays when your standing at the bus stop, it’s these experiences that influenced me to be who I am today, that’s what influenced my music and that why I don’t joke with Lagos, Nigeria, Africa [my home]”.
During the highpoint of the Covid-19 pandemic, he was unable to be in the city he loved because of travel restrictions due to the virus so he had to figure out imaginative ways to stay connected with home.
“I’m still very much in touch because it’s the same timing [you know], my family is still there and I talk to my people in Lagos every minute. It’s like I’m still there in Lekki, in Surulere, because I talk to people there every day.”
Boasting of one of the most dedicated fan bases in the world, Wizkid supporters tagged “Wizkid FC” are the real deal and they are responsible for constantly reminding the world of his growth as an artiste and the countless milestones and achievements he has earned using every tool at their disposal especially social media.
He is humbled and extremely thankful for them and doesn’t take their love and support for granted.
“I love them pass, I’m thankful and I appreciate everything, it’s impossible for me to reply to everybody but I appreciate all the love.”
For fans that have been celebrating his new album Made In Lagos even months before release, he has nothing but gratitude.