The essence of how Wizkid made it in Lagos
Wizkid is projected by RollingStone, a global music magazine to be in the running for a Grammy nomination and may eventually win one should the judges deem his hit song “Essence” worthy enough.
In the meantime, he has 5 nominations from the BET Soul Train Awards for his album “Made In Lagos” and the song “Essence”.
The multi-award-winning Nigerian musician was named Best African Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards (EMA) on Monday 15 November. In a hotly contested category, Wizkid beat Tems, Diamond Platnumz, Amaarae, and Focalistic.
MTV Africa in a post congratulating Wizkid via its Instagram handle wrote: “Huge congratulations to Big Wiz @wizkidayo for winning Best African Act! From Lagos to the world.”
After grabbing the win at MTV, Wizkid’s attention would be on the BET Soul Train Awards scheduled for Saturday 21 November 2021.
Although Nigerian artists have been on the list of Grammy nominations and a few wins and other global music awards, none has ever received 5 BET Soul Train Awards nominations or stayed for weeks on the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. But Wizkid who traces his roots to the streets of Surulere can now boast of such feats.
From Surulere to the world
Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, professionally known as Wizkid, was born on 16th July 1990.
He began his singing career at the age of 11 and released a collaborative album with Glorious Five which was formed by him and his church friends.
Growing up in Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria, a place that has produced talents such as Oxlade and Skiibii Mayana real name Abbey Elias, Balogun took his talent to every studio session he could find, meeting with producers and A’ list artists of the early 2000s.
He eventually got signed to Empire Mates Entertainment (E.M.E) in 2009, a record label managed by Banky W, and released his first studio album “Superstar”.
The success of the album brought Wizkid into the limelight as songs like “Holla at Your Boy”, “Tease Me/Bad Guys”, “Don’t Dull” and “Pakurumo” made him a darling of teenage music lovers, opened for him nightclubs, street parties, and music shows, as well repeated radio air time.
His self-titled album “Ayo” in 2014 gave Nigerian listeners songs like “Jaiye Jaiye”, “On Top Your Matter” and the most popular of them “Ojuelegba” which was produced by Legendury Beatz, a Nigerian record producing and songwriting duo, composed of siblings Uzezi Oniko and Okiemute Oniko.
When streaming services began finding their way into the Nigerian music market in 2015, Wizkid seized the opportunity as he linked up with Canadian rapper Drake in 2016 through his manager Jada Pollock.
The collaboration with Drake on “One Dance” gave Wizkid international recognition as the song reached number one in 15 countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.
Balogun signed a multi-album deal with RCA Records, an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment in March 2017.
In July of that same year, he released his third studio album “Sounds From The Other Side”. In 2018, Wizkid became the first Afrobeats artist to appear in the 2018 Guinness World Records for his contribution to Drake’s “One Dance”.
In late 2019, Wizkid released the singles “Joro” and “Ghetto Love” as promotional singles for the album “Made In Lagos”. The album was released on the 31st of October 2021 with songs like “Ginger”, “Blessed”, “Smile”, and the global sensation “Essence”. “Made in Lagos” featured artists like Burna Boy, Damian Marley, H.E.R, and Tems with the deluxe album dropping with the remix of “Essence” featuring Justin Beiber.
Made in Lagos
The album with its cross-continental appeal has since been critically acclaimed as one of the best afrobeat albums in 2020 topping charts in the Billboard’s world albums peaking at number 1 in that category. “Made in Lagos” album got a total of 40.7 million streams on Boomplay, 229.33 million on Spotify, 322.75 million on Apple Music, 178.25 million on Audiomack, while Youtube has 227.85 million.
One of the most recent achievements of the album was getting a nomination in the Soul Train Awards while the global sensation “Essence” got 4 nominations. They include “ Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Video of the Year, Best Collaboration, and The Ashford and Simpson Songwriter Award.
“Essence” lyrically sees Wizkid and Tems yearning for each other’s physical attention and is deemed a flirtatious song loved by both local and global audiences. It was included in Spotify’s Song of the Summer of June 2021 and also Barack Obama’s favorite song on his playlist in 2020.
The song features Tems singing the chorus about how only her lover can give her the feeling of lust and obsession and worship that she deserves, with the lyrics “You don’t need no other body.”
The song also credits Legendury Beatz as the producer. The duo siblings Uzezi Oniko and Okiemute Oniko have their music production style deeply rooted in afrobeat. During their career, they have been noted for their extensive work with Wizkid with the most notable of them “Ojuelegba” from his second album “Ayo”.
“Wizkid’s rise has also paralleled the Western-based music industry’s entry to the continent. Over the last few years, labels have steadily opened local divisions, like Universal Music Group Nigeria in Lagos and Sony Music Entertainment South Africa in Johannesburg while increasing access to streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Audiomack.
By next year, PwC estimates, Nigeria’s total music revenue will reach $65 million as digital music consumption surpasses physical revenue and the streaming sector grows,” said Heran Mamo, Billboard writer.