There was a time when only grown adults were eligible to be professional musicians, especially in Nigeria. That means you were at least in your mid-twenties and away from parental influence before you could make any serious headway as an artist.
Aspiring to become a musician wasn’t a career choice typical Nigerian parents would endorse or nurture in their wards for obvious reasons.
The legends we have come to respect and idolized like Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade, 2Baba, defunct Psquare, Banky W only started to enjoy real success as musicians as grown men.
While that was the norm, someone was about to rewrite the entire narrative and chart a new course for posterity.
A young teen came along his name, Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun professionally known as Wizkid, also known by the alias Starboy.
Going by the records Wizkid has raked in 10+ years under his belt as a professional musician. A 19-year-old Wizkid got his first professional recording contract in 2009 with Empire Mates Entertainment (EME). This excludes his time with late music producer OJB Jezereel and his feature on M.I Abaga’s ‘Fast Money, Fast Cars’ prior to EME.
There are several glass ceilings Wizkid has shattered for the league of musicians coming after him wouldn’t have to deal with.
These days there are several young music stars who are enjoying a music career as teenagers, let’s remember Wizkid did it first. He was the first teenage music star in Nigeria to sign a professional recording contract.
It is, in fact, plausible to tell your parents you want to be a musician as a young Nigerian child and your parents would okay the dream. You don’t have to be 25-years-old to blow in the music industry any more. There are lots of young acts doing it big without the bias of ageism.
He is one of those who fought their record labels and had no damages done to his career. He took on Banky W’s EME and won after he forced the label to a negotiation table. Not many have won a fight against their former record label without hurting their career. In fact, he only got bigger under his music imprint Starboy Entertainment.
The Starboy has lived the life as the true star that he is from getting huge paychecks for gigs and endorsements to acquiring luxury cars and living in penthouses, rocking designers and blings. And for the women, he has a long list of entanglements which have also seen him fathered three healthy boys with different baby mamas.
His fame has also transcended the shores of his own country Nigeria. He has the longest list of international features than any of his contemporaries. He has worked with the biggest musicians on the planet talking about Drake and Beyonce.
His catalogue of awards both local and international is enviable. He has made classic albums ‘Superstar’ and ‘Ayo’ that are still incredibly good after many years.
He has sold out different arenas across the world for his concerts, we won’t forget the 20,000 London O2 Arena for his now annual Starboy Fest.
In fact, Wizkid has almost done it all and many rightly refer to him as a legend.
These days the Nigerian music industry is witnessing an explosion of new talents who are doing great, from YBNL Fireboy DML, Mavin Records Rema, Joeboy, Omah Lay and many others. All this new school acts all have a piece of Wizkid in them.
Many of us grew up on Wizkid’s boyhood music hence these new school music stars have fashioned themselves unconsciously to be like the Starboy. You could hear a piece of Wizzy in their lyrics, the vibe has Wizkid dotted all over it. During interviews, this new generation of artists has often confessed that the ‘Ojuelegba’ crooner has inspired their music.
Growing up listening to Wizkid meant some of our fashion sense was inspired by him. Those snapbacks, skinny jeans, hoodies, dark shades etc were a fashion starter pack for teenagers at the time.
His influence also transcends his age bracket as industry elders and older generations never hesitate to salute him for taking the dream further and making it a reality.
Wizkid has single-handedly manifested many dreams and goals for Nigerian and African music all before turning 30.
His biggest asset yet is his diehard fans who ride with him during the highs and lows of his exciting music career. He has an enviable fan base he can solely bank on. Wizkid FC does serious PR for Wizkid with no financial cost from the singer. He trends effortlessly even when he takes a long absence from social media.
Today, a true music icon Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun aka Wizkid turns 30. He has not only made a name for himself, but he has also truly inspired a generation of new artists and by extension inspired us all.
Much of what is done now by contemporaries and new school acts, Wizkid did it first.