Bayo Omisore profiles Wizkid: What’s in a name? (Y!/YNaija Person of the Year 2016 Nominee)

According to the Oxford Dictionaries, a whizzkid is a young person who is outstandingly skillful or successful at something.

There has always been something about Wizkid.

Even when he was a kid, he wasn’t quite a kid. He walked with a certain sureness; a spring to his steps. Thus, at a time when his contemporaries were still trying to figure things out, he had become Wizkid.

But, as you can imagine, he hasn’t always been this Wizkid.

See I’ve known him since he was Ayo, that kid Osagie was peddling as the next big thing. I’d be lying if I said I knew he was going to be the man. But I did guess something was happening with him. Because he carried himself as if he knew for sure that he was a big deal. And because of that singular act, when he would make an effort to show his respect, I’d pull him close and insist he instead gave me an industry-standard dab.

Then MI happened to him.

MI was the biggest thing in Nigerian music back in 2008. He recognized that same ‘thing’ in Wizzy that I did and put him on his “Fast Money Fast Cars” single. Of-course MI was incredible. But Wizkid was phenomenal. He had a sound all by himself that stood him apart even as he was trying to find his feet.

Perhaps MI should have signed Wizkid up and formed a label around him. But his loss became Banky W’s gain when he snapped him up and added him to his EME roster. Wizkid’s first major performance was at Lami’s album listening party when he performed “Holla At Your Boy” to an uppity Lagos audience that didn’t know him. Suffice to say, his was the most memorable performance of the night.

But even then, quite a number of industry watchers did not think much of Wizkid. Despite the 2011 album launch party for his debut project Superstar selling out, critics, including yours truly, lambasted him for singing off key. His saving grace on the night was his stage presence and the popularity of his music by now. And, to be honest, it didn’t matter what people like us said, Wizkid was well on his way. His fans were diehard and they were not going to be swayed by the flimsy critique of some poorly-paid journalist.

From that point on, it has been the Wizkid show. Quite easily, it became a near impossibility to have a party without half of the records being spun by the deejay being the Starboy’s. In no time, he outgrew Banky and the EME label and started his own roster Starboy.

Alhaja Balogun had created a monster. Wizkid was a monster. He had done everything and then some. Baby-mama drama. Check. Big money endorsement deals. Check. Crash a Porshe, wait ten days and replace it with another Porshe. Nobody does that in these parts. Double check. You would have thought he’d reached his plateau. Then he released Ojuelegba.

Ojuelegba was a true Hollywood story. That’s, by definition, a story that is kinda true, kinda embellished. Chuey Chu of Pulse has already discovered that, contrary to popular belief, Wizzy’s story is not known in that locale. However, he did hustle through the entirety of Surulere. The song represents, for him, a means to share his story with the rest of the world. The story of lack and hunger and a dream. The story of perseverance and hard work. Wizkid started from Ojuelegba.

And he did start from Ojuelegba, the song. Fast forward to the mid-2010s, still only in his 20s, little Ayodeji Balogun is the toast of the West. Pop star Chris Brown is hitting the stage with him and learning to dance the azonto. Wizzy is hanging out and recording with Barbadian pop princess Rihanna. But everything changed when superstar couple, multiple award-winning singer Alicia Keys and super-producer husband Swizz Beats, with their combined tens of millions of followers, started gushing about Wizzy’s Ojuelegba on social media.

So 2016 is that exotic topping of carrots, cinnamon, honey and walnuts for your yoghurt (since we’re all trying to be healthy). Drake ensured that when he jumped on Ojuelegba and released it to a whole new audience via his OVO Radio. Not satisfied, he had to feature Wizkid on his “One Dance” single which was the most streamed song of the year.

Wizzy ends the year a Grammy-nominated Nigerian international artiste. And even though now he has to cancel all his year-end gigs per doctor’s orders, he can at least keep an eye on his new signing, the breakout artiste of the year Mr. Eazi.

Names. They do matter!

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cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail