There was something arrogant about Wizkid’s 2011-released debut album Superstar. It was mainly about the title, pompous and prescient and identity-encapsulating at the time. The album art cover, though with a forgivable bang-average quality, showed a sunglass-wearing Wizkid looking unagingly young and fresh. Even before we realised it, Wizkid was ready for the world: “If…
There was something arrogant about Wizkid’s 2011-released debut album Superstar. It was mainly about the title, pompous and prescient and identity-encapsulating at the time. The album art cover, though with a forgivable bang-average quality, showed a sunglass-wearing Wizkid looking unagingly young and fresh. Even before we realised it, Wizkid was ready for the world: “If you see me drive by/ holla at your boy; I got more swag/ holla at your boy.”
And we continued to be seduced, infectious hit after infectious hit, by the inexplicable appeal of Wizkid. We couldn’t define it but we need it was special, different, a certain kind of god tier. At a mini concert at Terra Kulture in 2009, a self-assured Wizkid walked side-by-side with Banky W into the hall. Their relationship, then, was like that between Justin Bieber and Usher, musically symbiotic but Bieber-focused. The concert had a couple of acts, but Wizkid’s effortless, dripping charm won the hearts of many as he performed Holla at Your Boy with a roar of sing-alongs.
Wizkid’s mega-publicised album launch for Superstar was fit for his burgeoning star status. Billboards, at night, were lit up with his youngish face and radio jingles injected a sweet urgency into the air. A 17-track masterpiece, Superstar was the most highly anticipated Nigerian album of 2011 and was the second best-selling album on NotJustOK.
“Wizkid’s debut album was a much needed breath of fresh air for the Nigerian music industry. Not Since Wande Coal’s Mushin to MoHitz had we heard such a complete album from a somewhat fresh and young artist,” says Wale Adetula, a media and communications specialist, “I remember listening to hit singles like Holla at Your Boy, Don’t Dull and Pakurumo and imagining just how far this kid could go.”
Perhaps the reason Superstar had such a consumable mass appeal was partly due to the crop of producers brought on, from Samklef and Masterkraft to DJ Klem of Knighthouse. Then the wave of collaborations came; every artiste wanted the Wizkid stamp on their songs. His second self-titled album Ayo showed a creative maturity, a solid gravitation towards dancehall. As I highlighted in this article on Skales, Wizkid evolved organically and in a Guardian piece from Eromo Egbejule published yesterday, Egbejule writes, “Aided by a solid label and management, Wizkid got into bed with top-notch producers, fellow artists and promoters across Africa and the UK, stacking up collaborations, playing at gigs and morphing into a continental sweetheart.”
One Dance, the international, commercially successful Wizkid-featured Drake track earned him seven Billboard Music Awards nominations last week for Top 100 Songs, Top Selling Son, Top Radio Song, Top Streaming Song (audio), Top collaboration, Top R&B Song and Top R&B collaboration. Held this past Sunday, Wizkid won four Billboard Music Awards for Top Hot 100 Song, Top Streaming Song, Top R&B Song and Top R&B Collaboration. All for One Dance. And that’s star quality right there.