5 weeks ago, Drake’s new track One Dance featuring Wizkid and Kyla was released.
Many Nigerians were left dissatisfied by the 10-second appearance by Wizkid which was reminiscent of D’banj who was featured in like manner on The Morning off 2012’s G.O.O.D music Cruel Summer album.
Some however, felt the feature was another achievement under his belt – which represents a future reference point for African music crossing into the United States – the music business headquarters of the world.
Regardless of the divergent opinions, one thing is certain – Wizkid is gaining attention on all fronts.
He is flying the country’s flag high while seeking to achieve a tad more than D’banj, who was signed to Kanye’s G.O.O.D music, ever did.
The US music industry which rakes over 10 billion dollars in revenue every year, has been a tough ground to break for international artistes especially for African acts.
Since the inception of the Billboard 100 – which is the yardstick for the measurement of an artiste’s chart success, no Nigerian based recording act had ever been featured until now.
In just 24 hours, Wizkid made his mark on the Billboard 100 as One Dance hit number 2 on the chart.
5 weeks later, One Dance is not only number 3 on the Billboard 100 but also the most downloaded song in the US.
Pharell, the revolutionary American music maker has also endorsed the Starboy’s endeavor on the song.
Call this a stroke of luck, we call it a power move.
Here are 5 of such power moves that has transformed Wizkid from an EME singer to an international wonder.
1. Standing up to EME
This was one decision that Wizkid would look back and pat himself on the back for making.
As at 2012, Wizkid was serving hits back to back.
Although this was two years after the release of his debut album, Superstar, Wizkid was being booked for countless performances and was making more money than even his label boss, Banky W.
However, it was alleged that he was being ripped off due a 50-50 sharing formula in his contract with the record label.
It was reported that while EME kept 50%, his manager at the time, Osagie Osarenkhoe of Metal entertainment collected 25% of his own share instead of the statutory 10% collected by other artiste managers.
This left him with only a meagre 25%.
Being that Wizkid was at the mercy of Banky W and Osagie (who introduced him to the EME boss) back in 2009 when he signed on to the label, he hardly had a say as he saw them as his benefactors who wanted to help him kick-start his career professionally.
In September 2012, Wizkid then decided it was time to shed the unnecessary weight by firing Osagie and employing Godwin Tom, sending out a warning shot to EME.
Growing in confidence and nearing the end of his contract, Wizkid in 2013 decided to sign a management deal with UK’s emerging artiste management company –Disturbing London which housed UK’s prominent rapper at the time –Tinie Tempah.
2013 would go down as a nervy year for EME as Wizkid tried to force his way out of the label in the early part of the year after contract talks between both parties stalled.
This ignited a brief war between both camps with Wizkid vehemently taking to social media to announce his supposed departure from the label and also moving out of Banky’s Ogudu GRA house to a property in Lekki.
The contract situation was however said to be resolved on April 30, 2013 as they reportedly came to 3 main conclusions namely
* The sharing formula was going to be 50-50.
* Wizkid was going to give EME one last album.
* Disturbing London was going to deal with his international business.
He then officially left the label after the release of his sophomore album titled –Ayo.
2. Floating Starboy Records
This was another decision which has worked out well for Wiz.
During his contract brawl with EME, Wizkid announced the birth of his label imprint; Starboy Records where he signed 3 new-school producers namely Maleek Berry and brothers Uzezi Oniko and Okiemute Oniko, popularly known as Legendury Beatz.
These signings provided Wizkid a new wave of fresh sounds, separating him from his other colleagues -taking his music to a whole new level.
He later added rising act, L.A.X and producer, Biano Summers to the Starboy roaster.
He announced recently that he also made some new signings.
Wizkid, through the creation of Starboy, has been able to gain more business acumen as a label owner.
3. Change in management
Getting free from his EME contract officially in 2014, Wizkid let go of his second manager, Godwin Tom after a purported disagreement between the two in April.
He then temporarily appointed a certain Seun Johnson to handle his bookings.
After going almost a year without a manager, he finally found his man in renowned artiste manager -Sunday Are who was involved in the successes of the defunct Mo’hits crew, Omawumi, J Martins, Daddy Showkey amongst others.
The appointment of the List entertainment manager brought along years of grounded industry experience and connections which has reflected in his increased number of shows.
4. Securing his international connections
They say slow and steady wins the race. This is exactly what Wizkid has done.
Wizkid began to work his way into the international scene back in 2012 when he met with Akon.
In April of 2012, EME announced a joint deal, in a press statement, with Akon’s Konvict. EME claimed Akon would “produce and release Wizkid worldwide” while EME managed Wizkid in Nigeria.
He nonetheless struck up a relationship with Chris Brown who Abu ‘Bu’ Thiam, Akon’s brother just started managing at the time.
Wizkid spent time in the studio with all these famous acts in the US but he didn’t put out any collaboration with any of them just yet. Although he was featured on a Kardinal Offishall track titled Reppin for my city which gained airplay in the US.
Unlike D’banj who churned out international collaborations that went flat with artistes such as Big Sean, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West and so on.
In the course of Wizkid’s visits to the US, he struck up another friendship with American/Nigerian rapper, Wale who was gaining traction in the US then.
Then came the bumper performance when Chris Brown came to Nigeria in 2012, and brought out Wizkid at his show in Lagos.
That indeed was the turning point in his career as subsequent performances followed in Ghana (2013) and South Africa (2015).
Also in the UK, Wizkid’s association with Tinie Tempah’s Disturbing London opened doors for him as he performed at top-billing shows in the country.
Although he had toured the UK in 2012, his biggest break came in 2013 when he performed at the Yahoo! Wireless Festival in London.
While he was in the UK, he also secured a working relationship with British/Nigerian rappers Skepta and Sneakbo.
The Skepta relationship he kept, later paid off when the former played Ojuelegba for Drake in 2015 which the Candadian singer took a liking to and jumped on a remix of the song alongside Skepta.
Not getting too excited, Wizkid cultivated a relationship with Drake which has now produced One Dance.
5. The ‘Jada’ effect
In case you haven’t noticed, there is a lady who has been sighted with Wizkid for a while now especially since his Ojuelegba feature with Drake.
Her name is Jada Pollock.
His less involvement in social media dramas, his organised social media publicity, his increasing international media features, his fashion and style all boils down to this former Gucci employee who now works for Akon’s brother – Abu ‘Bu’ Thiam’s entertainment company -BU vision.
She is an image maker in her own rights as she is part of the team responsible for the successes of Chris Brown and rising artiste -Pia Mia.
She is highly connected and Wizkid sure knew that when he secured her services.
Score 5 for the star boy.