The Untold Truth Of Wizkid

Afro-pop singer Wizkid, real name Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, hasn't missed a beat in his quest for global domination. If growth had a face, he would be it and then some. Wizkid has carved a path that has allowed him to headline festivals and land collaborations musicians can only dream of. In September 2021, GQ dubbed Wizkid "the King of Afropop."

This title, as it stands, is one that he does not take lightly. It's deserving, if his millions of fans are anything to go by, and even more appropriate because Wizkid understands his music. "What we make now is ... I would call it Afro-pop, you know. Coz it like, has the influence of Afrobeats music, and we draw inspiration from pop records, you know, dancehall records, reggae, and stuff," he said during a 2017 interview with Channel 4 News

For an artist who was once begging for studio time, Wizkid has traveled the distance. His success story is proof that, with unwavering determination, any starving creative can achieve recognition far beyond their wildest beliefs. This string of facts puts a stamp on his rise to the top of the music food chain.

Ojuelegba is the singer's tribute to his humble beginnings

Released off Wizkid's sophomore studio album, "Ayo," the song "Ojuelegba" is an ode to his Nigerian roots. The singer was raised in Surulere, Lagos. Ojuelegba, a well-known business center within Surulere, knows him by name. A producer in the neighborhood introduced him to big names in the music industry when he was only 15 (Via GQ). Through him, Wizkid got to experience the greatness of performers like D'banj and 2Baba, while patiently waiting for his turn. The music video features Wizkid in a minivan (locally known as "Danfo"), cruising through familiar streets in a reminiscent way.

This depiction of struggle, brought to life by director Clarence Peters, is one that resonates with many an audience, including professional boxer Anthony Joshua. "The main song for me is that 'Ojuelegba' song," Joshua revealed in the singer's documentary, "A Superstar Made in Lagos." The track, he said, was special, and would forever have a soft spot in his heart. "As I said, I'm not a music connoisseur across all parts. With me, if there's a song that touches me, I'm that guy that can repeat it, repeat it, repeat it. Ten years later I'll be telling the kids, ' Ah! You don't know this song? When I was your age this is the music that was playing.'"

Wizkid couldn't afford studio time early in his career

According to singer Banky W, who eventually signed Wizkid to his record label, the musician's financial muscle back then was nothing like his present net worth. He could barely pay for studio time. "He would just go to any studio where they would let him hang out. And he would hang out all day, " Banky W disclosed in "A Superstar Made in Lagos," the documentary celebrating the 10th anniversary of Wizkid's debut studio album, "Superstar."

At the end of a working day, the would-be-star relied on the sympathy of producers to record a song or two. During the wait, however, he'd be hard at work, coming up with melodies and hooks, just in case luck happened to be on his side. Unknown to him at the time, Wizkid was working his way into becoming one of the fastest songwriters Banky W had ever seen.

His style of recording music, therefore, is nearly effortless. "I don't overthink it when I'm going in the studio. That's one thing I don't do. I'll usually go with my mood. I go with how I feel at that moment," he said of his recording process. Bad energy is not welcome when Wizkid's making music. The studio is his safe space, so much that he may record a song while lying down, fellow musician Skepta notes.

He got signed to Empire Mates Entertainment

In August 2010, Wizkid was hell-bent on getting the attention of record label owner Banky W. "Hey Mr name is Wizkid nd I'm up nd coming in d music industry nd I need ur help mehn.." he tweeted. At the time of his tweet, he'd already been signed to Banky's record label, Empire Mates Entertainment.

Through the label, Wizkid dropped "Holla at Your Boy," a track that made him a household name in his home country. The sound was new and unlike any by a Nigerian musician at the time. With an undeniable Western influence, Wizkid had teenagers echoing his lyrics word for word, per Vanguard. Its accompanying music video set tongues wagging for its concept, and even more for the leading girl. "This is the first video Banky is gonna be directing alongside Patrick, so it's definitely going to be a good video," Wizkid said behind the scenes.

His was a five-album deal from which he managed two releases. Wizkid parted ways with the record label, and according to Banky W, the pair are on good terms. "We still have a great relationship," Banky let it be known during an interview on "Bounce."

Those who've worked with him applaud his work ethic

In the world of Wizkid, discipline is just as important as talent. As such, his work ethic precedes him. Godwin Tom, who worked with him as a manager, said of his time with the "Joro" hitmaker: "For two years working with Wiz, he is in the studio every day, I am not exaggerating, there are very few people that have that work ethic." In the 2018 Pulse Nigeria interview, Tom further disclosed that Wizkid's discipline didn't stop when they traveled. As soon as they got to a hotel, he and an in-house producer would get to work.

"I constantly make music," the singer said when he had his fans spend a day with him. At his very highest so far (of course, he keeps raising the bar), Wizkid poured all of himself into the making of his 4th studio album, "Made in Lagos." He took a hawk-eyed approach toward meeting the quality standards he had set. "It was very important for me to make this album music, solid music. Good material, good instrumentation, amazing producers, amazing voices. It was important to me. I paid attention to every detail. The way it is mixed, mastered, you know, my storylines for my videos, like, everything."

Wizkid's collaboration with Drake entered the Guinness Book of World Records

In 2016, Drake, who's had quite the transformation of his own, released "One Dance," featuring Wizkid and Kyla Reid. Forbes reported that it was the biggest release that year, with $12 million in sales. Dropped off Drake's 4th studio album "Views," the song stayed in the United States charts for 10 weeks. "One Dance" managed to top charts in the United Kingdom for 15 weeks, and heavily contributed to the album's $2 million in sales.

In addition to the song's exceptional commercial performance, it made it to the Guinness Book of World Records by reaching a billion streams on Spotify. "One Dance by Drake feat. Wizkid and Kyla became the first song to reach one billion streams on Spotify #OTD in 2016," the publication tweeted. By March 2021, the number had doubled, per Chart Data.

In an interview with Rap Radar (via Urban Xtra), Drake insisted on giving credit where it's due as far as his interest in afrobeat is concerned. "But like, you know, Wizkid was on the song with me — and like, you know, I had blessing from like the real dons in that space," the "God's Plan" rapper said. The pair has since released another hit song, "Come Closer."

He's bagged many international collaborations

Since his collaboration with Drake, Wizkid has worked with a ton of internationally acclaimed musicians. "You Don't Know," featuring Justine Skye, was released in 2016, well after Wizkid lay down his vocals on British rapper Tinie Tempah's "Mamacita." In 2018, the singer hopped on Normani and Calvin Harris' "Checklist." The previous year, he'd featured Major Lazer on "Naughty Ride," a track that has since accumulated over three million views on YouTube.

At an MTV red carpet event in 2014, Wizkid hinted that he'd been making music with a number of bigwigs in the business. "I was in the studio with Chris Brown, you know Ty Dolla. I was in studio with Tyga, Stargate, Rihanna as well, you know." In 2017, Nicki Minaj posted a picture of her and Wizkid in studio, proving once again that Wizkid's claim of always recording music is spot on.

Wizkid's collaboration with Chris Brown titled "Call Me Everyday" was released in June 2022, ahead of Brown's 10th studio album, "Breezy." The two artists share a brotherhood that has gone on for a little over a decade. "This time we really made a real record and I feel like it's dope that the world gets to see us do it," the "No Guidance" singer said during an interview with "Big Boy TV."

Brown Skin Girl earned him a Grammy

In 2019, Wizkid worked jointly with the queen herself, Beyoncé alongside her daughter Blue Ivy and SAINt JHN on the hit song "Brown Skin Girl."  Both the video and "Black is King" album featured familiar faces including Lupita Nyong'o, Naomi Campbell, Tina Knowles-Lawson, Kelly Rowland, and Adut Akech. All over the world, "Brown Skin Girl" became a power anthem, encouraging women of color to embrace their skin. It has since garnered over 52 million views on YouTube.

Wizkid is a member of the "Beehive," Beyoncé's fierce fanbase, and when the "Break My Soul" Singer called, there was no hesitation on his part. "Making that one ["Brown Skin Girl"] was special, you know, 'cause especially the fact that the song actually empowers women to be comfortable in their skin," he said during an interview with BBC's "1 Xtra."

In 2021, the song won a Grammy for " Best Music Video." Jenn Nkiru, who co-directed the video with Beyoncé, accepted the award on her behalf. Her acceptance speech was in part dedicated to black and brown women who'd carried the song's message and given it wings: "This moment is yours. You are the source. Never forget that."

Essence was the first Nigerian song on Billboard's Top 10

While "Brown Skin Girl" was a significantly huge project for Wizkid, working on Beyoncé's "The Lion King: The Gift" album was just the tip of the iceberg. Summer 2021 came with yet another banger, "Essence," featuring 27-year-old Nigerian singer and record producer, Tems. A remix of the song, featuring Justin Bieber, catapulted their entry into the Billboard Hot 100's top ten, making theirs the first Nigerian song to do so, per Essence. As far as digital sales were concerned, Wizkid, Bieber and Tems gave other musicians a run for their money (via Forbes).

By October 2021, the unofficial song of the summer had gone platinum. Speaking to Complex, Wizkid didn't choke on his words when asked whether he had a hunch that "Essence" would be successful. " Yeah, I knew it was a magical record. Like, I'm not even gonna lie. I knew it was a very, very dope record, you know. I don't expect much when I put out music. I just put it out and hope people like it."

Although "Essence" won the hearts of the masses, flooding Instagram stories and being the go-to song at every cookout, the Grammys thought otherwise. The record was in running for the Best Global Music Performance Award, which was lost to "Mohabbat" by Arooj Aftab.

His record label is a hub of raw talent

In addition to being a successful performer, Wizkid is an enthusiastic entrepreneur with a deep understanding of the music business. Leaving the Banky W-owned Empire Mates Entertainment allowed him to establish his own record label, Starboy Entertainment. It was the conduit through which he released his third studio album, "Sounds from the Other Side" in collaboration with Sony's RCA Records (via Vibe).

Starboy Entertainment has been home to many artists through the years. In 2013, Wizkid announced through Twitter that Maleek Berry, with whom he collaborated on "The Matter," joined the team. " Ya'll pay attention to the name @MaleekBerry," the tweet read. Barely a week later, Legendury Beatz, with whom he has partnered on a number of tracks, got signed. " It's Official!!...@Mutay_legendury and @zei_legendury Legendury Beats now on StarBoyEnt!!! we growing!!!" Wizkid tweeted.

The label has since been affiliated with a number of stars, including "Caro" hitmaker L.A.X, Ghanaian duo R2bees (Mugeez and Omar Sterling), Mr. Eazi, Terri, Efya, and Willybang, with whom Wizkid goes way back in Surulere, per a 2011 tweet.

Wizkid's net worth has grown over the years

Celebrity Net Worth places Wizkid's current net worth at $4 million. A good chunk of the singer's revenue comes from performances. The number, according to a past Instagram story by the "Ginger" singer, can shoot all the way up to $1 million (via Information Nigeria). 2021 was a great financial year for Wizkid. Billboard reported that Wizkid and fellow Nigerian artist Burna Boy collectively pulled in a $5.6 million gross in sales at London's O2 Arena. 80,000 tickets for the "Welcome Back" concert were sold.

Being a familiar face comes with a bucket-load of endorsements. Wizkid puts his millions of Instagram followers to good use by grabbing his share of good old corporate money. In December 2021, Flutterwave — a financial tech company — announced the "Soco" hitmaker as its brand ambassador, per PR Newswire. Only a year prior, Wizkid had been unveiled as the face of the mobile brand Tecno in a transaction that Pulse Nigeria reported as his biggest one yet.

Having Wizkid as the face of anything does not come cheap. This was confirmed by his former manager, Godwin Tom, who told Pulse Nigeria that working with the singer made him wealthier. "My work with Wizkid was interesting, it wasn't particularly new but I made more money, it was an interesting thing to see." Tom also revealed that Wizkid has a philanthropic side that's present every time he goes out.

There's no show business without good old industry rivalry

Besides Wizkid, Nigeria has other big-time music exports like Davido and Burna Boy, both of whom are massive stars in their own right and have vast fanbases. While Wizkid and Burna Boy seem to have a cordial brotherhood, not the same can be said of his relationship with Davido. A Wizkid-Davido feud has been chronicled by the artists and the media, and further fueled by their diehard followers.

In spite of the ongoing rivalry, both musicians are okay with the idea of working together. During a 2021 interview with the "Ionwannatalk" podcast, the hosts asked if Davido was open to a collaboration with Wizkid, to which he replied, " Me and Wiz,like, we're friends ... I'm saying, like, it's ten years we've never done a song, like, you know what I'm saying. Honestly ... we just haven't been in the same place mentally."

On his end, Wizkid told Capital Xtra that, if their feud is anything like Nas and Jay-Z's, he's Hov in the situation. On working with Davido, he said, "Everything is possible in the world. We'll see ... I've got love for everyone in the game." Fans of the two stars can only be hopeful. Davido and Wizkid have shared a stage before. They can do it again.

Wizkid has an amazing friendship with supermodel Naomi Campbell

Of friends in high places, Wizkid is closely linked to supermodel Naomi Campbell. Campbell is an equally successful force whose thriving career came with its own sacrifices. In a since-deleted Instagram post, Campbell wrote, per PM News, "[Wizkid] proud to call you my lil bro and to see with everyone your journey unfold. How many albums we will never hear, as you are the quintessential perfectionist!" Wizkid credits her with having influence in her life, so much that the pair walked the Dolce & Gabbana runaway together back in 2018 (via Vogue).

In 2020, the pair had a long chat on Campbell's YouTube show, "No Filter with Naomi," in which she introduced him as "the face of African music" and a true artist who's an inspiration to others. Minutes into their chat, the audience learned that Wizkid barely recalled his first encounter with the award-winning model. "I don't remember the first time we met. I don't, 'cause we've had so many amazing memories ... I don't remember the exact time we met, but I knew from the first time we met like, it's been family." She, on the other hand, affirmed that Wizkid has been extremely generous to her. 

Fatherhood is the gift that keeps on giving

His career achievements aside, Wizkid's most treasured role is parenthood. "I'm a father before anything else," he declared in his documentary, "A Superstar Made in Lagos." He further disclosed that, if anything were to happen, his children would come first. Having three children with three different women comes with its own set of drama, and when you're a public figure like Wizkid, the nastiness can get amplified, as Okay Africa reported.

Wizkid first became a father at the age of 21. At the time, he felt that he was too young. "I wasn't sure I was ready to be a father at that point. I was scared I wasn't going to be a good father to my kids," he said in an interview with Rolling Stone. Fatherhood was the drive he needed to morph into a fearless businessman. He named his first child Boluwatife, which means "As God wishes."

Having grown up in a musical family, two of Wizkid's children have shown interest in the craft he so cherishes. "My first son likes rap music a lot. And my last son, yeah, he likes music ... He hums a lot as well, melodies, like how I do." With the foundation already set, it's likely that they are well on their way to having heightened musical careers of their own.