Nothing indicates the global acceptance and acclaim of Nigerian music than the fact that 5 Nigerians earned nominations for the 2022 Grammy Awards. This comes after its previous edition saw two Nigerians win the prestigious music award.
After Wizkid earned his first Grammy for his contributions to the Brown Skin Girl video and Burna Boy for his Twice as Tall album, the world was put on notice that Nigerian music and Afrobeats at large was here to stay, and the man leading its cavalry is no other than Ayodeji WizKid Ibrahim.
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Not shying away from the pressure, Wizkid earned two nominations at the 64th Grammy Awards for best global music album and best global performance.
Wizkid is not the first artiste to take Nigerian music global but the edge he has had over his peers and progenitors is that the same international waters where they dipped their toes Wizkid became Aquaman.
These days, after conquering Africa Wizkid’s sights are set firmly on North American penetration and global fame, but his story started from Surulere.
Early Life and Career
Wizkid was born Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun on 16 July 1990 in Surulere a popular local government in Lagos State, Nigeria. His passion for music was discovered very early on as it is documented that he began singing and recording music at the age of 11 in a group called the Glorious Five and went by the name Lil Prinz.
After impressing on M.I. Abaga’s Fast Money Fast Cars on his debut Talk About It album, he caught the eyes of the industry and subsequently got signed to Empire Mates Entertainment record label in 2009.
Wizkid shot into national prominence after he dropped Holla at Your Boy, his lead single to his debut album Superstar. His image was strategically designed to be a heartthrob derivative of then American teenage sensation and eventual collaborator Justin Bieber.
Wizkid quickly shed the heartthrob image and attempted a more versatile and mature approach to tackling Afrobeats, an impressive feat that ensured his debut album became an instant classic and earned a spot on the contemporary Afrobeats albums Mount Rushmore.
Even in his early musical offerings, Wizkid had prophesied his global music domination with lines like “My music travel no visa”. In many ways there is power in Wizkid’s tongue.
Ojuelegba To The World
Coinciding with the rise of social media, the reach of Wizkid’s music began catching the ears of foreign audiences, especially in Europe. International superstars such as Wale and Chris Brown also began to give their stamp of approval to Wizkid, with Brown singing alongside him when he performed in Lagos in 2012.
After Wizkid dropped his sophomore album Ayo under controversial circumstances and to mixed reception, Ojuelegba its stand-out track began to gain national traction and acclaim. In 2015, Skepta and Drake hopped on the ode to his Lagos origins and nothing was the same.
The Ojuelegba collaboration marked the origin of the global Wizkid explosion, the explosion that witnessed the Wizkid assisted Drake’s historic smash hit, One Dance, Black Skin Girl with Beyonce and the charts dominating Essence with Tems.
Wizkid’s international voyage has also seen him drop two international major-label albums, Sounds From The Other Side in 2017 and the mega-successful Made in Lagos in 2021.
“No doubt me I go bring you Grammy” Nigerian music icon, 9ice was known to quip on majority of his songs at the onset of his career. A dream Wizkid was close to achieving after earning his first nomination for Album of the year due to his artiste and production credits on Drake’s 2016 VIEWS, a category he will go on to lose to Adele’s 25.
Four years after his first advent with the Grammys, Wizkid will go on to win his Award thanks to the Music Video for Black Skin Girls with Beyonce. A year later, Wizkid is favorite to bag the awards for best global music album and best global performance, majorly in thanks to the very successful year he has had courtesy Essence and Made in Lagos.
Regardless of the results and aftermath of the 64th Grammys, the future is incredibly bright for Wizkid, and that is saying a lot for a career that has seen top tier collaborations with global stars such as Beyoncé, Drake and Chris brown, sold out concerts all over the world, nominations in different categories of music awards, including wins at Apple Music Awards, BET Awards, Soul Train Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, and the Grammys.
Afrobeats is at the peak of its global acceptance and accessibility, the music genre has begun to gain more listeners across the world as more people are intrigued and interested in the new sounds from Africa. The evidence of its penetration is evident in the incorporation of the Afrobeats charts on Billboard.
Reminiscent of the three elders’ statue that welcomes you to Lagos when you approach the city, music voyagers exploring Afrobeats will be greeted by the Made in Lagos Superstar, Ayo with his sounds from the other side.