It may not have seemed like a mean feat when on Saturday, May 26, 2018, Afrobeats icon, Wizkid – born Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun – sold out London’s 02 Arena while performing to a crowd of 20,000, who had come from Nigeria (his home country), other parts of Africa, the U.S., Caribbean and the UK to see him sing.
However, the afrobeat crooner has chalked another feat as the man to fill out the 02 Arena twice when he successfully staged his Saturday, October 19 concert. Still on his ‘Starboy Fest’, Wizkid has announced he is headed for Paris next.
To the pleasant surprise of patrons at the concert, Wizkid had thrown an invite to stars Don Jazzy, Tiwa Savage, Naira Marley, Reekado, Rema, Fireboy, Maleek Berry, Burna Boy, D’Prince, Oxlade, Eugy, Kizz Daniel, Runtown, YCEE and Mr Eazi who were unleashed on them.
With Afrobeats – pioneered by the great Fela Kuti – now gaining traction on UK’s mainstream media, it’s little wonder then that the genre which blends African highlife, R&B and reggae has a large following among Britain’s African diaspora.
Wizkid’s numerous successes have prompted one Twitter user to ask that the man from Surulere-Ojuelegba is studied in Nigerian universities as part of entrepreneurship, noting without making noise he is chalking legendary feats.
It is curious when one looks back to a time when this successful man couldn’t get a passport to travel with. That it had to take another Nigerian music act, Wande Coal to facilitate things for him. It’s almost unbelievable to see the heights he’s gotten to from the depths he arose from.
Wizkid – born to a Muslim father and Christian mother – soon realised he could sing and so formed the ‘Glorious Five’ with church friends serving as the lead singer.
In 2009, New York-born Banky W returned to his home country Nigeria to sign artistes onto his record label, Empire Mates Entertainment which he had formed in 2002. He signed Niyola, Shaydee, Skales and Wizkid to the label at the time. Wizkid released his breakthrough debut studio album ‘Superstar’ to international acclaim. After superstar, he came to his self-titled LP “Ayo (Joy)” in September 2014, which was his second studio album. The LP turned out to be his last on Banky’s label.
In an online video making the rounds on Wednesday, October 9, 2019, Wizkid claimed he didn’t have a penny when he left Empire Mates Entertainment (EME) in 2014.
“I literally had to leave with zero Naira and me was Wizkid like… I had to leave because I’m just like man, I can’t keep doing this. It was a great time in my life because I’m thankful to God and Banky W for everything he’s done for me, but you know at some point, you’ll definitely get to a stage where you want to move forward.”
While the move could have spelled doom for many great acts, Wizkid sure in his craft soldiered on and is now one of the most decorated and valuable.
Wizkid also called Starboy runs his own Starboy Entertainment and it is estimated to be worth $14 million.