It is hard to imagine what the Nigerian music industry and the Afrobeats movement would be like without our favourite Starboy, Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun popularly known as Wizkid. The 30-year-old singer is continually a huge influence on up-and-coming acts both within and outside of Nigeria.
With over 10 years in the game, the Starboy Entertainment boss has been a serial hitmaker with a prolific discography of songs both as a lead and featured artist. Digging down through his discography brings on some sweet memories of how much beautiful music the petite singer has made over the years.
While his discography is solid and enviable, there are a few songs that have changed the entire trajectory of his career towards being the calibre of musician he is today. There are about 7 songs that have each defined a new path or perhaps taken the singer from one prong of the success ladder to another in his music career.
Holla At Your Boy
After getting signed to Banky W’s Empire Mate Entertainment (EME), Wizkid released his first professional single under the label titled “Holla At Your Boy” from his debut album Superstar. Little this we know this was the beginning of a new era in the history of Afrobeats music. The swag and aura were different around this new kid on the block and he became an instant sensation among the millennials who have formed the majority of his fanbase even to date. “Holla At Your Boy” pushed Wizkid into the mainstream of Nigerian music and becoming his first certified hit single as a professional musician. The song which was released in 2010 was the first step in Wizkid’s journey into global music dominance.
A lot of folks consider this song as Wizkid’s most influential song even until now and there is a lot of truth from those in that school of thought. The song is from his critically-acclaimed 2014 album “Ayo”. “Ojuelegba” was not like any of the songs on the album because this one took a life of its own growing beyond the shores of his home country Nigeria. For a while, the youthful exuberance that saturated Wizkid’s lyrics took a backseat on “Ojuelegba”. The lyrics here is still one of the best he has conceived and voiced. It didn’t take long before the music became bigger than the singer pulling in different audiences across the globe. The game-changer for Wizkid was when Drake hopped on the remix of “Ojuelegba” alongside Skepta. This was the beginning of what would be global music dominance for the Starboy.
Following the global success of “Ojuelegba”, Wizkid fostered a budding friendship with Canadian rapper Drake which led to his feature on Billboard Number 1 song “One Dance” in 2016. This was a big win for the petite Nigerian singer as his name came up more frequently in global music discussions. Being on the Billboard for about 12 weeks meant lots of folks outside of Africa noticed the Starboy and also got to discover his music on various DSPs. Things started moving fast on the international lane for Wizzy who became a target for Sony Music and RCA getting signed within months of “One Dance” release.
Without slowing down on the momentum he has built so far, Wizkid recruited the services of Drake as a featured artist on “Come Closer”, a lead single from his “Sound From The Other Side” album. The tune took off with ease, selling thousands of units across the Americas. The song was awarded a Gold certification and later a Platinum after it sold over 80,000 copies in Canada in 2020. “Come Closer” has also amassed over 100 million views and counting on YouTube. This tune did not only take Wizkid a notch higher as a musician but it was also instrumental in the growth of Afrobeats across the globe especially in America.
Nigerian British rapper Skepta linked up with Wizkid for his 2018 release “Energy”. This tune was an instant hit upon release. This collaboration was necessary to solidify Wizkid’s presence on the UK music scene and that was well achieved. Upon release “Energy” debuted at number 73 on the UK Singles Chart and peaked at number 59 spending 15 weeks on the chart. The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) certified the song Gold after it sold over 400,000 units in the UK. The song produced by Sarz was a huge club anthem and it pretty much bangs even now.
Brown Skin Girl
In 2019, global music icon and American pop queen Beyonce released “The Lion King: The Gift” album with a good number of African artists. The stand out track on the album was “Brown Skin Girl” which also had Blue Ivy and Saint Jhn as featured artists. “Brown Skin Girl” became a huge sensation around this clime especially with Wizkid on the track. As a featured artist on BSG, Wizkid won some enviable awards like The Ashford & Simpsons Songwriter’s Award at the Soul Train Music Awards 2019, BET HER Award. The big one came in last month when it won the Best Music Video at the 63rd Grammy Award. This made Wizkid one of the few contemporary Nigerian musicians besides Burna boy to grab a Grammy Award. This was really a defining moment in his career.
Wizkid showed he knows how to make pop records and club bangers when he released “Joro” produced by NorthBoi. It was an instant favourite upon release, however, the real deal came several months after the song went viral overseas. The tune went viral on TikTok with millions of videos made in the #jorochallenge with celebrities like Keke Palmer, Lupita Nyong’o joining in. This became Wizkid’s first music video to hit the 100 million mark and selling thousands of units across Europe and America.