Wizkid: Ode to Lagos
By Yemisi Suleiman
Super talented and a regular hitmaker, these are some of the attributes to describe singer, songwriter, Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, also known as Wizkid.
The 30-year-old Lagos born singer with hits after hits has risen to the world stage, easily becoming the most internationally popular and influential act from Nigeria and Africa.
With successful collaborations with top music stars around the world including; America’s Drake and Beyonce Knowles, the award-winning singer continues to infuse his Lagos roots into all of his music to massive success. Following an initial delay out of respect for the recent events that happened in Nigeria, Wizkid finally released his much-anticipated album ‘Made In Lagos, a fifteen tracker album that projects his love for the city.
From his London base, the Ojuelegba crooner talks about his attachment to Lagos, musical journey, his thoughts on the #EndSARS, Police brutality, family love and more.
You’ve just released your new album, Made in Lagos. Can you tell me about the making of this album and writing of the songs?
Yes, it took me nearly three years to make this album. I had an incredible time creating it and it was very personal. Everything happened organically and I think the album is a reflection of that, plus who I am today.
Are all the 15 songs influenced by Lagos, what inspired you to write the songs?
The title of the album really explains itself. It’s where I come from. Lagos is the place that birthed me and it’s what made me who I am today. With this project, I just want to show people the amazing talent and music that comes from our people. Music is very soulful and spiritual to me, so I did my best to put that into every song.
What does Lagos mean to you and what do you love most about the city?
Lagos is everything to me. That is my home. I love the people and the hustle spirit in people.
The album features contributions from Burnaboy, Skepta, and a few others, why did you decide to work with them?
Yes, all the artistes featured make this project even more special to me. They are all artistes that I respect, and we all share a genuine love for music and that is also very important to me. I appreciate all of them for blessing me with their time and talent.
This album was originally meant for release in October, but you had to put aside to join the #EndSARS protest in London. What is your view on the #EndSARS movement, do you think it’s worth fighting for?
The #EndSARS movement is a beautiful thing to see, in the sense that our generation- Nigerian youths are coming together to make our home country a better place. That is real love and that is the real energy that is going to go a long way in changing things in our country. So, it was important for me to play my part, and not release my album at such a sensitive time.
Do you feel that artistes have a responsibility to be political, especially at the moment?
We are part of the community too. And it is our role to show unity with the people. They are our biggest fans. As an artiste, I have been blessed to be on a platform like this because of the people, and that is something I do not forget easily.
How much does the politics of Nigeria impact you as an artiste?
It is disheartening.
How did you get started as a musician and songwriter?
I started in church with a few friends.
Who are your earliest musical influences?
I grew up listening to a lot of Fela and Bob Marley songs and that somehow influenced me and my style of music today.
As an artist, what are some of your favourite songs that you’ve written?
That is a hard question to answer because I genuinely like everything.
You are always on the go. Do you ever get your ‘me time’?
I go to the studio everyday, although that is work, but it is actually like home to me. My music is very personal to me. I love to make music, that is what I live to do. So that is how I spend my ‘me time’. The studio is my favourite place to be.
Who are your influences in life?
Family, especially my sons, are very close to my heart. They keep me grounded and focused. That is why I do this.
You have worked with some of the biggest stars in the industry, what was it like working with Beyonce?
It was a blessing. P2J actually talked me into doing that song. He wouldn’t let me rest until it was finished. I love the message of the song, growing up with my sisters, it’s important that black women are told often how important they are. It’s a feel-good song, I love how it makes people feel, especially women of color. That’s what making music is all about to me, it’s the feeling. So when I work with fellow artists, I’m not so much concerned about stardom. I like to connect with them musically or on a human level.
You are obviously one of the best-dressed music stars in Nigeria, what is fashion for you?
I love Fashion. You can never have enough clothes. I grew up not having a lot of clothes, so now I can afford whatever I like. I shop for no reason. It’s really one of the ways, apart from music that I get to express myself. In my videos and my photo shoots, I’m particular about the pieces I wear. If I go to a shoot and the clothes are not right or do not fit the way I need it to, I won’t do it. I do not care what it’s for. I have to feel good when I get dressed.
If you were not a musician, what would you be?
I actually don’t know. Music is literally what I love to do. I’ve never had any other passion. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
What is the best part of being superstar Wizkid?
I’d say the best part is just being able to touch people in a positive way, and making people feel good through my music.
What would you want your fans to remember you for?
I’d like to be remembered as someone that made good music, that made real music and shared positive energy.
What message do you have for your fans and those that look up to you for inspiration in life?
I love my fans, forever and ever. They are one of my biggest blessings! Wizkid FC Love una die. I’m forever grateful for them.