From his breakout hit, way back in 2010 “holla at your boy” to his recently released track “Essence” (featuring Tems), Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun popularly known as Wizkid continually gives us reason to crown him number one on the scene. Although some might beg to differ, there’s no arguing that he has not only earned a comfortable spot at the top but also gone ahead to conquer global dominance. It’s barely been three months since he hit his fans with his anticipated 14 track album “Made In Lagos” and there are already cries for a new album. That’s the magic of the star boy. What keeps him going? Family, he says.
Konye Chelsea Nwabogor reports.
‘’Made in Lagos’’ since its release has gone on to top the charts and dominate the airwaves globally, which kind of revalidates your status as a premier music brand from Africa presently. How does this make you feel – being #1 again?
It’s a blessing you know and I’m just thankful that I have amazing fans that listen to my music. I feel really blessed, like that’s the word – “blessed” there’s no other way to describe it.
The album is themed majorly on love and family values – how have these affected the man that Wizkid is today?
Family is everything to me. That’s what influences me and keeps me grounded, especially my sons. They are my purpose in life. It was important for me to put that into the music. I always want to share that love and good vibe because that’s simply what keeps me going in life. My music is very personal, and it’s a reflection of who I am today. Plus, with Covid and just the madness in the world today, the closest thing that helps right now is family. The closest thing to everyone’s heart right now should be family and love. And this is a time for us to spread love more than ever because everyone is going through one crazy situation or another.
By now, we’re hoping you’d have a favourite track from the album given its commercial success and critical reception. Can you tell us which one and why?
It changes every time really; I don’t quite have a favourite. I mean it’s a hard question to answer because it changes with mood. I could be feeling good now with ‘Essence’ you know, I actually like that song a lot but then I could go out with my boys and it’s ‘Gyrate’. So, you see, it changes every minute which makes it difficult for me to pick. All the music is very personal to me. Every record means something, so I can’t really pick one over the other. All of them are my favourites for various reasons.
It’s barely been three months into the launch of your latest album, and you have already started teasing about another album drop on social media. How soon can we expect that to become a reality?
Yes 100% it’s going to drop when it’s ready. But you see that’s the almighty question – when is it gonna be ready? (Laughs). I record every day you know, so I got a lot of music and I’m ready to give my fans more music. It’ll definitely drop once it’s ready.
Since your long-anticipated return to the motherland last year, you seem to have been up to a lot. From Nigeria to Ghana, even Dubai…what were some of the things you looked forward to doing and which of them have you already done?
I’ve been eating a lot of food and it’s been amazing. I dey chop Spaghetti right now and I feel very good. That’s it really, just food. Couple with the fact that I’ve missed my Naija food, like Eba and Banga soup… everything mehn, where do I even wanna start?
Afrobeats has now taken a centre stage globally and you are credited for having catalysed this takeover given your involvement with some of the world’s biggest popstars, Drake & Beyoncé. Would you say you actively chased global recognition or was it just a product of grace and opportunity?
First of all, nothing just happens and number two, I don’t chase anything. I don’t chase recognition; I don’t chase acceptance. I just strive to be the best that I can be every day and that’s what I work on as a human being, as an artiste. I’m just a human being that creates art and I take that very close to my heart. As a kid from Nigeria with that Lagos hustle spirit, I’m always pushing for more, for bigger and better. I also just believe in following my heart. I try to have a genuine approach to everything, and everything else in life will align accordingly. But at the end of the day, it is God who truly ordains all of my success. So, it’s all been a blessing, and not only for me. Nothing comes easy you know, it’s just hard work and consistent building. I hope it inspires the next generation to do the same and go even further.
Working with Beyoncé feels like an artiste’s dream come true. Has that affected your industry cred especially with your foreign colleagues?
Working with Beyoncé was a blessing. I like that song in particular just because of how it makes people feel, especially women of colour. That’s what making music is all about to me, it’s the feeling. So, when I work with fellow artistes, I’m not so much concerned about industry cred. I like to connect with them musically or on a human level. You could be the biggest artiste in the world or an unknown rookie, I’ll work with you if we align. I’m really more about making real music than chasing hits.
Balancing out your roles as family man, hit maker and man of the people sure doesn’t seem like an easy feat. How have you managed to pull through?
I believe everything just falls in place when you’re being your true self. I’m a big family man, I love music and I love making people happy. I love to see my close ones happy around me so what I do is just try my best to simply stay grounded. I try not to get caught up. I just try as much as possible to be a normal individual, because that’s who we all are at the end of the day. That outlook is what helps to maintain balance in my life. My family comes first, always. Then my music, and my fans come right after that.
You always seem unfazed managing controversies. How easy is it to stay quiet and not explain yourself or tell your side of the story?
It’s very easy. Only a stupid man will go around trying to prove a point to the world and even at that, you’ll find that you can’t please everyone, that you cannot live off of people’s opinions. I think once you understand yourself and your true essence, nothing will faze you, people’s opinions won’t faze you. I’m just more of a private person, and I handle situations in that manner.
Everyone knows Wizkid to be tight-lipped on socio-political issues, however the #EndSARS event revealed a different side to you. What was the breaking point that made you speak out?
It’s just because it’s something that affects everyone, it affects all of us. If you’re Nigerian and you’re young, it’s either you’ve suffered a police brutality experience or witnessed someone being harassed by the police. Harassment by the police is something that I went through growing up at times, and to think that my son may experience the same thing is terrible. The #EndSARS movement is a beautiful thing to see in the sense that our generation, the Nigerian youth, are coming together to make our home a better place. That’s real love and that’s the real energy that’s going to go a long way in changing things in our country. So, it was important for me to play my part and speak about the things that really affect us as humans and as Nigerians.
Going back to the year 2020, how did you cope with all the shock and surprise that the year brought? What impact did it have on you and your career?
It impacted us all. It was something the world was all going through together. I was in London during the first break out. It’s probably the first time in my career that I have sat in one place and not repeatedly gone to the studio day in day out or been travelling. But music is such a big part of me so I started going to the studio again as soon as I could. Even if the studio would only permit me and my engineer or me and my producer for the session, I would still go for the session. It also made me spend more time with my family, looking out for them and making sure everyone of us was trying to stay safe and just praying and hoping that we get out of this crazy mess. It’s been like a blessing and a curse, you know.
What was the biggest lesson 2020 taught you?
Appreciation. It’s just one life that we’ve all got to live so it made me appreciate life more.
And with the new year 2021, what do you hope to achieve that your fans can look up to?
Everyone should expect more amazing work. I mean we can all plan and then Covid or something else will now come (God forbid). But yes, more work still, more amazing music, more videos. All of that! I appreciate my fans and supporters across the world, they’re really the ones who make a lot of the growth possible. So, I’ll always do my best to make them happy. You can always expect that from me. I like to keep it real.
You are just 30 but you have accomplished what many people hope and dream for in a lifetime, what would you say has been your driving force?
It’s family, man. I’m very close to my family and having those people that really love you and support what you do is what makes it all worth it in the end.
What would you want your legacy to be in another 30 years?
30 years, wow… I hope people still listen to my music (laughs). But honestly, I just hope for a life well lived, blessed and making more music. I want to make music forever, until I can’t make no more.
What’s next in the lines of global dominance for Wizkid?
Stay tuned. There’s still a lot of work to do, especially for the African music industry as a whole, there’s a whole lot of work to be done. I’m just gonna be playing my part, giving the fans better and real music while hoping that it gets the respect it deserves, the numbers that it deserves and yes… all of that! Everything else flows from that.
What are your plans for Valentine?
It’s family o, I will be with my family. Valentine is about showing love, and not just to family but everyone around. So, I’ll be busy spreading love and positive vibes to the people like always.
The fans are also lowkey waiting for when you will announce that you are officially off the market.
(Laughs) Until then o… dem go wait!