Wizkid's star keeps rising
Nigerian superstar Wizkid walked away with a BET Award for Best International Act this year. And although he shares it with Ghanaian artist Sarkodie, he has entered the same league as the likes of D'banj, Tuface Idibia, Asa, 9ice and Nneka, who are all previous winners.
How did he do that? Just a few years ago Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun was a relatively unknown name. He hadn't even conjured up his moniker Wizkid.
But the truth is, the rapper has been in the game since the age of 11. Known as Lil Prinz before rebranding in 2006, his first song was recorded with one of Nigeria's music icons, OJB Jezreel. He went on to record a seven-track album, which he released in his church in Lagos.
The singer/songwriter and performer dropped the squeaky clean church image for something with a little more edge and started doing more urban music to carve out a particular niche for himself. He was still studying when the music bug bit the hardest so he decided to quit university and pursue music full time.
Success wasn't immediate. It was only in 2009 that the artist really started picking up some buzz thanks to lucrative collaborations with the likes of M.I. Their track 'Fast Money, Fast Cars' drew major attention and eventually got him signed to Banky W’s Empire Mates Entertainment which saw him featured prominently on Banky’s 'The W Experience' album.
He can thank his dancehall freestyle 'Tease Me' for catapulting him to national fame. Even though the track was a leak, it became a radio hit thanks to the tight hooks. More than that, Wizkid's collaboration with up and coming music producer Sam Klef on that track put him in the ideal position to become the industry's newest breakout act.
Despite these early inroads, his true success came the following year. After he took home Promising Artist of the Year at the Dynamix All Youth Awards 2010, the awards kept rolling in. He picked up nominations for Channel O Most Gifted Newcomer, a MOBO alongside the likes of Black Coffee and Spoek Mathambo, and an MTV EMA for World Wide Act. He eventually walked off with the Next Rated Award at the 2011 Headies (Hip-Hop World Awards).
But this road to stardom wasn't without its speed bumps with baby mamas popping up on the scene to a point where the singer had to tweet: "I'm young, wild and free, but I still wanna (want) [to] make my people proud, so I'll keep working and I'll stay level headed, make those mistakes, and learn to be a better person...(sic)"
The singer has put the focus back on his music and was recently signed on by a renowned music promoter for international music tours, including a series of UK shows.
It was even rumoured that Akon had signed him alongside P Square and Tuface, but with the singer spotted hanging out with The Game and Young Jeezy just before the BET Awards he could be set to join another major US label.
Looks like D'banj had better watch out.
Date Posted : 06 Jul 2012