chutzpah credit

A Superstar Made in Lagos: Wizkid celebrates 10 years of music stardom

By Léo Pajon

Posted on June 28, 2021 07:21

Nigerian musician Wizkid performs at the launch of The Big Friday Show by MTV Africa in Lagos
Nigerian musician Wizkid performs at the launch of “The Big Friday Show” by MTV Africa in Lagos August 5, 2011. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Nigerian Afrobeat artiste Wizkid commemorates the 10th anniversary of his debut album Superstar with a new docuseries. Offering a retrospective of his career through 10 video interviews, the full series can be viewed on his YouTube channel, StarBoy TV.

The 30-year-old music star Wizkid doesn’t look a day over 20. Donning gold-rimmed sunglasses, an oversized diamond necklace and a scarlet red sweatsuit, the singer gives off an aura of eternal youth with his bling-bling player look. He doesn’t appear to have aged an iota since the release of his prophetically titled debut album, Superstar. In true Nigerian fashion, Wizkid, a master of the art of self-promotion, warms up to the camera in celebration of the 10th anniversary of his breakout record.

The docuseries, titled A Superstar Made in Lagos, features 10 interviews – one of the ‘Starboy’ himself, of course, as well as others with fellow artistes and the mentors who inspired him. Fans can stream the episodes on StarBoy TV, the singer’s YouTube channel which boasts more than 1.8 million subscribers.

Directed by Lagos-based company JM Films, which is behind the music videos of hit songs from Nigerian artistes like Burna Boy and Mr Eazi, the docuseries has slick production values but re-writes Wizkid’s origin story, as it smooths over the bumps along his journey to stardom.

This video oddity should be taken for what it is: an exercise in self-promotion that earnestly celebrates the star’s humbleness.

Sitting casually against a backdrop of the cover art for his single, No Stress, Wizkid pays tribute to Lagos (the city that ‘defines’ the singer who now lives between Los Angeles and London), love (‘the biggest religion’) and his family. “The most important thing to me is family,” he says, mentioning his son in particular. Notorious for his womanising ways, the artiste got a student, Sola Ogudugu, pregnant when he was 21 and initially denied that he was the child’s father.

Humble beginnings

In his interview, Wizkid also revisits the early days of his music career. “I was in the studio every day, even when I wasn’t invited,” he says, expressing how grateful he is to Banky W., who co-founded the label Empire Mates Entertainment (E.M.E) and was the first to sign the promising artiste, giving him the opportunity to record Superstar.

Wizkid brushes over the darker side of the story, though, as the singer founded his own label, StarBoy Entertainment, a few years after working with Banky W., and often clashed with his ex-mentor on Twitter. The pair seem to have made peace since then, however. “I want to thank Banky for understanding my vision and taking me under his wings like his little brother,” Wizkid says with a humble air.

Banky W. himself puts in an appearance, giving one of the most interesting interviews in the docuseries. At one point, he evokes the superstar’s plucky, humble beginnings and adolescence in the Lagos neighbourhood of Surulere: “He would just go to any studio where they would let him hang out. He would hang out all day and just wait, and hope and pray, for the engineers or producers to take pity on him and say, ‘Come and record for 15 or 30 minutes’, because obviously he couldn’t pay for his [own] sessions.”

Self-directed praise

In another interview, Wizkid-signed artiste Terri recounts the Afrobeat sensation’s workaholic streak. “He doesn’t sleep,” he says, recounting how Wizkid’s entourage would tell him to get some R&R, but that instead he’d call five producers at the same time to discuss his next hit. Actor and producer Basketmouth recalls a recording session in which Wizkid delivered a flawless performance in a single take for a song that was, alas, never released. Even Femi Kuti shows up for an episode, thanking the artiste for his involvement in Felabration, an annual musical festival held in honour of Fela Kuti. Professional boxer Anthony Joshua, for his part, doesn’t have much to say other than that he’s a Wizkid fan.

In conclusion, this video oddity should be taken for what it is: an exercise in self-promotion that earnestly celebrates the star’s humbleness. But Wizkid does deserve a certain amount of credit for his chutzpah, and the docuseries is a friendly reminder that a little praise never hurts, especially now that the singer has competition – including the likes of Burna Boy – even when the praise is a bit self-directed.

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