Editor’s note: Exactly one year ago, we published this piece about Wizkid. His stardom hasn’t waned since then and he continues to show why he’s one of Nigeria’s most important entertainment figures. Today marks his 28th birthday and we decided to share this comprehenisve biography with you. We’ve added updates for the new happenings in his life since then.
The buzz sounding Wizkid is not mere hype: there’s no bigger act on the continent than him right now. A combination of his boyish charm and his ability to deliver hits after hits has ensured that his being signed to an international record company is not a dud.
His first body of work on SONY RCA just came out to much applause. Any listener would agree that it is earned. Otherwise successful artistes have tweaked their sound to sound like his (no bigger example than Drake) and he has shone more light on the continent of Africa with his music.
With the release of Sounds From The Other Side, it is a fitting time for explore the man Wizkid and give context to his continuous rise. This is the encyclopedia of Wizkid, presented by TheNetng.
Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun
How fitting it is that a Wizkid encyclopaedia starts with the man’s government name? Born 16 July 1990 in Lagos, he would grow up to be one of the most iconic music stars of his generation.
Without a doubt, Banky is the most important figure of Wizkid’s career. When he returned to Nigeria to start a record label, Wizkid was the first act signed (along with Skales) and that opportunity helped the teenage star show the world what he had to offer. Beyond the music, the two seemed to be brothers that really got along. There were rumours of infighting before Wizkid departed EME after his second album AYO but it’s been nothing but love from both parties since then.
The second duet with Canadian rapper Drake after the global success of One Dance became Wizkid’s fastest video to hit the 20 million mark on YouTube. It defied critics of the artiste when he was a no-show for the visuals to One Dance and Drake was unavailable for this one’s. Had leaked earlier in the year and was Wizkid’s first official single under SONY/RCA.
Pop star and Wizkid’s arch nemesis. Except for the slight difference in age and birth location, the two could very well pass for siblings. They’ve had similar success- and live similar lifestyles. However, as it sometimes happens, these two do not like each other; and that’s putting it lightly. They shot barbs at each other on wax and on social media. The most recent being the Yankee passport/frog voice subs on Twitter. [Note: they made up by Christmas and are now besties.]
Canadian rapper who rode on Ojuelegba’s success to create an Africa flavoured album that turned out to be his most successful yet. He can thank Wizkid for that. The influence of the other’s music has been evident in the two of them. After jumping on Ojuelegba, Drake has gone on to be on Come Closer, returning the favour Wizkid did not for him on One Dance. [The two were spotted together just last week. See the photo here]
Empire Mates Entertainment, Wizkid’s home for nearly six years. Owned by Banky W and the Demuren brothers, the record label was successful with its marquee signing even if the other guy Skales was dissatisfied at a point. For now only Banky W continues to be the main player since his two biggest stars left, leaving Niyola and Shaydee to step out of the shadows.
Afrobeat god. Music genius. Social crusader and thorn in the flesh of the Nigerian government before his 1997 death. Fela is obviously Wizkid’s biggest influence right now. He references Fela in several interviews, dances like him and got the man tattooed on his arm.
The manger that worked Wizkid after he fired Osagie. Appeared unsure of what his job was at time and publicly dissed Wizkid fans who mailed him. Eventually, he would throw in the towel and tweet ‘Fuck this shit, I’m done.‘
Holla At Your Boy
This track introduced Wizkid to the world. The lead single off his debut album, it made Wizzy the heartthrob of all teenyboppers in Nigeria and cleared the way for the boy to shine. Banky should be proud.
The award show where Wizkid was first crowned Next Rated and where he would be crowned Artiste of the Year in 2016. It was the first solid recognition of Wizkid’s talent and continues to be the holy grail for many Nigerian artistes. As a matter of fact, many of them get really upset when they don’t win.
The failed concert series that Wizkid promised fans in 2016. After a great year and almost zero appearance on the Nigerian circuit in almost two years, fans were eager to end the year with a massive concert. Few days to the concert, however, Wizkid announced a cancellation ‘on doctors’ orders. He apologized profusely and promised to be back. In July 2017 he once again declared that he would hold a four-stadium tour in Nigeria. We wait. [Note: he held Wizkid Live In Concert in December 2017.]
Like Fela and Majek Fashek, Wizkid has become a truly international act. Argue with Drake and Chris Brown and Future and all the other acts that he’s been on stage with.
One of the several beautiful women that our boy has been seen with. Neither of them acknowledges or deny their relationship but they’ve hardly been seen together after a rumoured break up. [Note: Yup, they broke up. See next line]
The oldest but most recent baby mama of Wizzy’s who was his UK manager. She had his third son Zion in London last year and the two were most recently seen together at his o2 Arena Concert.
Owned by Akon (who should be given honourary Nigerian citizenship, to be honest). In 2011, it was reported that Wizkid was signing to Akon’s label for a more global appeal. All that was seen from that ‘deal’ were a few selfies and EME later denied that their star was signed anywhere else. But it shows that the boy was destined for bigger things if as far back as 2011, superstars like Akon were already famzing him.
The production team made up of brothers Uzezi and Okemuite Oniko. They started their production credits with Weird MC and soon moved to Brymo and then EME for whom they produced their compilation album. Their chemistry with Wizkid will turn out to be powerful as they were signed to his imprint Starboy. They produced Ojuelegba.
Well, he might be the biggest African star in the world right now but the man has always been a mummy’s boy. Just as he was riding a wave at the beginning of his career, he brought her on stage at an awards show and did the Mother and Son dance. What’s more? He wrote a whole song for her on AYO.
Also known as Naija. The land of paradoxes. One day you’re jumping bus in Surulere and the next you’re crashing Porsches in Lekki. The land of 180 million brave-hearts where Wizkid is from. The country that is capable of killing your dreams and making them come true at the same time. The country is the people; resilient, strong and proud who defy the odds daily. Wizkid is proof.
Stop everything right now. If this man hadn’t opened his door to a nine-year-old boy who wanted to be around music and musicians, we wouldn’t be talking about the name Wizkid today. OJB was far ahead of his days and was a talented producer, songwriters, singer- he rapped a bit too. Wizkid was always in his studio and that’s where he first had dreams of being big. It happened for him. Rest in peace Jigga.
The song that practically shot Wizkid to the world. Named after a Lagos hotspot- an ever pulsating hub where everything happens. For Wizkid it was an allegory, one that told his story better than mere words could have done. It caught Drake’s attention and the rest is history. Oh, he can thank Fela for the inspiration too. It generously sampled from the 1975 record Confusion.
Nee Osarenkhoe. The third part of the three-prong boost that Wizkid got in the beginning. He might have been given a platform by EME and he could have been one of the boys around OJB: but Osagie made it click. She managed him from 2009 to 2012, called in favours to get him on a number of tracks and introduced him to Banky W. They would fall out later on but Osagie’s work with Wizkid is indelible.
The first piece of extravagance our boy will indulge in. In 2013 he treated himself to a Porsche Panamera. Just about a month later, he crashed it in an accident while returning from a show. Like a true rock star, he replaced it with another one within a fortnight.
Wizkid has always been blessed with good producers that are able to key into his vision. From his early days with Samklef, Masterkraft, Sarz, Shizzi to meeting Maleek Berry and doing great stuff with Legendury Beatz, producers have formed a very key part of Wizkid’s artistry.
Questions have always followed Wizkid, either as Banky’s protege or in his personal life. Can he do this? Can he cross over? Can he still retain his identity… So much that they boy himself sang about it on ‘Talk’ and Oje’. He’s answering all those questions though, the only way he knows: by succeeding.
The subsidiary through which Wizkid is signed to SONY Music. RCA Records has signed some of the biggest entertainers in the world throughout its 115-year history. Today its home to artistes like Usher, Miley Cyrus, Chris Brown, Zayn Malik and a host of others. Wizkid certainly is in good hands.
The ‘hood that raised him. Surulere in the 90’s was the place to be. Rappers, singers, ballers: it had it all. It was hard for a kid born in that era not to have dreams of becoming any of those. That’s where Wizkid was born into. That’s the culture that raised him.
a. The nickname Wizkid gave himself. I mean it’s obvious what he is, yes?
b. The record label borne out of that name. Founded as he neared his exit from EME. Self-explanatory, no?
Arguably the first international connect Wizkid got. A friendship started between the two young men and Tinnie who was already a big shot in the UK extended his goodwill to Wizkid. A management deal by Tinne’s label Disturbing London helped Wizkid crack that UK market early on.
Wizkid made an attempt to attend two but the pull of the music was too strong. At Lagos State University, he no try at all- a leak of his only semester there recently got out and he allegedly had 44 carryovers. (How is that even possible?) He spent a bit more time at Lead City University in Ibadan and somehow did two sessions before abandoning the whole thing. Whilst there, he collaborated with an Ibadan based rapper Jayru on a track called Familiarity.
Versus Davido/Linda Ikeji/Dammy Krane
Wizkid doesn’t seem to be afraid of getting into people’s faces and under their skin. He’s had a few beefs, most notably with Davido- his archrival in the music industry. The two have never been the best of friends and the international exposure both artistes currently have has only heightened the rivalry. With blogger Linda Ikeji, it’s come from a place of irritation. She wrote somethings Wizkid didn’t like, then he insulted her on social media bla bla. It was settled by the commissioner of police. Dammy Krane wasn’t as lucky though: he had a bottle smashed on his head at Quilox. Who knew Wizkid had some gangsta in him?!
His other nickname; not to be confused with Lil Wayne’s Wizzy. But as both of them have names that suggest that maybe they’re children, Wizzy the ‘grown-up moniker’.
Maybe when he was 19/20, Wizkid tried to hide his love for the herb but not anymore. He’s been more open with his weed smoking. On his birthday on July 16, the only photo he posted on his Instagram was of him smoking
that good shit with the caption ‘From today, I give no fucks.’ Again, nobody’s complaining Wizzy… nobody.
Any self-respecting pop star knows how to land the finest women and Wizkid hasn’t done too badly. The chemistry he shared with teen video ‘vixen’ on the set of Holla At Your Boy didn’t end there: he and Sophie soon went official. And then he’s been with Tania Omotayo, he had time to make two babies with Sola Ogudu and Binta Diallo- and a recent third with Jada Pollock. He was rumoured to have been involved with Tonto Dikeh at one time- then he dated American R&B star, Justine Skye. What can he say, women love Wizkid.
Like any other youngster, Wizzy sometimes could be foul-mouthed. His beef with Linda Ikeji contained a few choice words. Few weeks to his album release too, he tweeted a few colourful things he’d like to do to some girls. But it’s Wizkid, so it’s cute. Nobody’s complaining.
The catchphrase that took the world by storm. Not clear now on which song he first called that out, but it matters little- anywhere you hear Yaga, prepare to dance.
One of the lucky artistes who have had Wizzy bless them with his gift. Zara is a Swedish singer who’s well known across Europe. Her debut album in 2013 was certified triple platinum in Sweden. Signed to her Epic Records, her first international album featured Wizkid. Epic is owned by SONY Music- which owns RCA where Wizkid is signed. Get it?
His third and youngest son, borne to him by erstwhile manager Jada Pollock. It was reported in the news that she put to bed in November 2017. By now Wizzy is not a stranger to paternal matters and he owned this one with his chest. The ‘kid’ has become a ‘baba nla now’.
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