Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun (born 16 July 1990), known professionally as Wizkid, is a Nigerian singer and songwriter. He started recording music at age 11 and managed to release a collaborative album with the Glorious Five, a group he and a couple of his church friends formed. In 2009, he signed a record deal with Banky W.’s record label Empire Mates Entertainment (E.M.E). He rose to prominence in 2010 with the release of the song “Holla at Your Boy” from his debut studio album, Superstar (2011). “Tease Me/Bad Guys”, “Don’t Dull”, “Love My Baby”, “Pakurumo” and “Oluwa Lo Ni” were also released as singles from the Superstar album. Wizkid’s self-titled second studio album, Ayo, was released in September 2014 and was preceded by six singles: “Jaiye Jaiye”, “On Top Your Matter”, “One Question”, “Joy”, “Bombay” and “Show You the Money”.
In 2016, Wizkid achieved international recognition following his collaboration with Drake on the global hit, “One Dance”, which reached number one in 15 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. In addition to his solo work, Wizkid has collaborated with several other artists and was featured on the hits “Girl” (with Bracket), “Fine Lady” (with Lynxxx), “Sexy Mama” (with Iyanya), “Slow Down” (with R2Bees), “The Matter” (with Maleek Berry), “Pull Over” (with KCee) and “Bad Girl” (with Jesse Jagz).
Following the release of his second studio album and expiration of his 5-year recording contract, Wizkid left E.M.E. On 1 March 2017, Billboard magazine reported that Wizkid signed a multi-album deal with RCA Records. The deal was first reported by several media outlets in September 2016. The chairman and CEO of RCA Records, Peter Edge, confirmed the signing while speaking to Music Business Worldwide in January 2017.
He was ranked 5th on Forbes and Channel O’s 2013 list of the Top 10 Richest/Bankable African Artists. In February 2014, Wizkid became the first ever Nigerian musician to have over 1 million followers on Twitter. Moreover, he became the first Afrobeats artist to appear in the 2018 Guinness World Records for his contribution to Drake’s hit song “One Dance”.
Life and music career
1990–2010: Early life and career beginnings
Wizkid was born on 16 July 1990 in Surulere, a residential and commercial area of Lagos. He grew up in an interfaith household with twelve female siblings. His mother is a Pentecostal Christian and his father practices Islam. In a 2012 radio interview with Tim Westwood, he said that his father has three wives.During his upbringing, he listened to songs recorded by King Sunny Ade, Fela Kuti, and Bob Marley. Wizkid started singing at age 11 and went by the stage name Lil Prinz until 2006. During an interview with Adesope of Factory 78 TV, Wizkid described his life in a nutshell. He said he formed a group called the Glorious Five with a couple of his church friends. The group managed to release an album prior to disbanding. Wizkid later met OJB Jezreel, a record producer who prevented him from recording for a year. While visiting OJB’s PointBeat Studios frequently, he watched 2 Face Idibia record songs for his Grass 2 Grace album. He was also present during the recording sessions for Sound Sultan’s debut album, Jagbajantis. Wizkid cited Naeto C as one of the people who mentored and coached him when he was 15 years old. Wizkid also told Factory 78 TV that his parents weren’t receptive of his music from the onset. In order to gain his father’s trust, he had to work hard and spend lots of time in the studio.Wizkid co-wrote Banky W’s “Omoge You Too Much”, a song off The W Experience album. He also worked with Naeto C, OJB Jezreel, Ikechukwu, and M.I while developing his craft. In 2009, Wizkid inked a record deal with Banky W.’s Empire Mates Entertainment.In mid-2009, he dropped out of Lagos State University (LASU) to focus on his craft. He later attended Lead City University, but dropped out after completing two sessions.
Wizkid began recording his debut studio album, Superstar, in 2009. On 2 January 2010, he released “Holla at Your Boy” as the album’s lead single. The song earned him the Next Rated award at The Headies 2011, and was nominated for Best Pop Single at the aforementioned awards show. The music video for “Holla at Your Boy” was nominated for Most Gifted Newcomer Video at the 2011 Channel O Music Video Awards. It was also nominated for Best Afro Pop Video at the 2011 Nigeria Music Video Awards (NMVA). On 2 April 2010, Wizkid released “Tease Me/Bad Guys” as the album’s second single. The song was initially released as a freestyle. “Don’t Dull”, the album’s third single, was released on 6 December 2010.The album was recorded in English and Yoruba. It was released on 12 June 2011, by Empire Mates Entertainment. The album incorporates elements of R&B, dancehall, and reggae. Wizkid collaborated with a wide range of music producers, including E-Kelly, Jay Sleek, Shizzi, DJ Klem, Masterkraft, Q-Beats and Samklef. The album features guest appearances from Banky W., Skales, D’Prince and Wande Coal. It was initially scheduled for release on 14 February 2011, but was later pushed back. On 12 June 2011, Wizkid hosted an album launch party at the Expo Hall of the Eko Hotel and Suites. The album’s launch party featured performances from Banky W, Skales, 2face Idibia, Samklef, Wande Coal, D’Prince, Olamide, eLDee, Jesse Jagz, Ice Prince, Lynxxx and Seyi Shay.Superstar garnered Best Album of the Year at the 2012 Nigeria Entertainment Awards, and was nominated for Album of the Year at The Headies 2012.
2012–2014: Ayo and other recordings
Work on Wizkid’s second studio album, Ayo, began in 2012 and continued through 2014. It features guest appearances from Femi Kuti, Banky W., Seyi Shay, Phyno, Tyga, Akon and Wale. The album’s production was handled by Sarz, Shizzi, Uhuru, Del B, Dokta Frabz, Maleek Berry, Legendury Beatz and Spellz. It was initially titled Chosen. According to MTV Base, the album suffered from a pushed back release date.
On 2 May 2013, Wizkid released the album’s lead single, “Jaiye Jaiye”, featuring Femi Kuti. Wizkid told Showtime Celebrity that he collaborated with Femi Kuti in order to prevent people from depicting him as an artist whose lyrics revolve around girls, cars and materialistic things.”On Top Your Matter” was released as the album’s second single on 26 October 2013; it was produced by Del B.The music video for the single, released on 13 February 2014, was shot and directed in South Africa by Sesan. In July 2014, Wizkid visited The Beat 99.9 FM studio in Lagos and told Toolz that he collaborated with Barbadian singer Rihanna.
2015–present: Sounds from the Other Side
On 5 January 2015, Wizkid released the music video for “Ojuelegba”, a song that highlights the struggles he endured in the early years of his recording career.The official remix to the song features vocals from Drake and Skepta; it premiered on OVO Sound Radio in July 2015. Wizkid first announced that he was working on a new album during his visit to London in October 2014. He revealed his collaborative single with Chris Brown titled “African Bad Gyal”, and said that it would be the lead single off the upcoming album. In April 2015, both Wizkid and Chris Brown performed the song together at the latter’s concert in Durban, South Africa. In May 2015, Wizkid released “Expensive Shit”, an Afrobeat song built on light guitars, saxophone lines and acoustic percussion; the song was reported as being a likely inclusion on the album.In July 2015, Wizkid announced via Twitter that Angélique Kidjo will be featured on the album. In September 2015, Wizkid revealed that he was dropping his EP and postponing the release of his third studio album. He made the announcement via Instagram shortly after the conclusion of 2Face Idibia’s “Fortified” tribute concert. Wizkid was quoted as saying, “I celebrated the legend 2face Idibia last night! Epic! It made me realize how much work I need to do.”According to an interview published by The Fader magazine, Wizkid’s upcoming EP would be titled Sounds from the Other Side. Although much information were not revealed, The Fader did report that Wizkid is squeezing in edits to the EP. On 14 July 2017, Sounds from the Other Side was released on all digital platforms.
In 2012, Wizkid signed a one-year endorsement deal with Pepsi reportedly worth 350,000 U.S dollars. He travelled to Beirut, Lebanon with Tiwa Savage for a Pepsi commercial shoot. On 28 May 2013, Premium Times reported that Wizkid signed a one-year deal with MTN Nigeria. Moreover, the news source reported that Wizkid’s Pepsi contract was renewed for another two years. On 23 October 2013, BellaNaija reported that Wizkid signed an endorsement deal with Guinness for the “Guinness World of More” concert, which was held at the Eko Convention Centre of the Eko Hotel and Suites in Victoria Island, Lagos on 3 November 2013. On 18 June 2015, Pulse reported that Wizkid ditched MTN and signed a ₦128 million deal with GLO.
The Next Rated prize
Wizkid won the award for Next Rated at The Headies 2011. In addition to winning the award, he was awarded a 2012 Hyundai Sonata courtesy of The Headies and its affiliates. The car’s presentation ceremony took place at the Silverbird Galleria in Victoria Island, Lagos. Guy Murray Bruce, Bola Salako and Ayo Animashaun were present during the ceremony. Wizkid joined the list of past winners, including Aṣa, Overdose, Omawumi, Wande Coal and Skuki
Car accident and Porsche acquisition
On 15 June 2013, Wizkid was involved in a non-life-threatening car accident along the Lekki-Epe Expressway in Lekki, Lagos. According to an article posted on Silverbird Television, Wizkid was hospitalised for a minor concussion resulting from the wreck. According to eyewitness reports compiled by MTV Base, Wizkid’s Porsche Panamera was spotted speeding down the road; the car’s front tires blew out and resulted in the driver of the vehicle losing control and crashing into a road barrier. Eyewitness reports also added that the car’s airbag suspension system deployed on impact, shielding Wizkid and the driver instantaneously. At the time of the incident, Wizkid and other passengers in the car were returning from the Soundcity Nokia LumiaBeat Party. The accident allegedly occurred around 3:30am in front of the GET Arena. As a result of the wreck, the car was badly damaged. Pictures of the damaged vehicle surfaced on Instagram and Facebook. Vanguard reported that Wizkid acquired a Porsche Cayenne two weeks after the accident. He posted pictures of his new acquisition onto his Instagram page and tagged the pictures with the caption “Blessed”.