By Preye Campbell
If you are familiar with the brand Wizkid, you are also familiar (or you should be familiar) with the greatness that has ruled our soundwaves for ten years now. From the Twitter wisecracks of a 20-year-old wannabe seeking fame to becoming one of Africa’s legendary exports, Wizkid -or StarBoy, as we fans have come to chant- has become the epicenter of the African sound.
And why not? A consistent delivery of hits, a rich dossier of international collaborations, and a career laced with awards has made Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun a pictorial image of the term ‘Success’.
Today, being the 16th day in July, Wizkid is 30 years old. You read that right. The miniature magician from the suburbs of Surulere, Lagos, is an icon in the entertainment game today.
It feels like 24 hours ago when R’n B act and Empire Mates Entertainment (EME) boss, Banky W, introduced a new kid on the stage of the Kennis Music Annual Festival in 2010. Banky W, while performing, told the world that Wizkid and erstwhile E.M.E label mate, Skales, were his retirement plans.
Of course, two years before that, The label boss had just discovered a tiny 18-year-old who recently dropped out of the Lagos State University to pursue a music career- an enormous gamble at the time. Wizkid was like some of us at 18, looking smaller and shorter in the E.M.E Intro video. Banky W called Wizkid “the future” and it seemed in retrospect, he was right. One attention-grabbing song, various standout performances with E.M.E and one Headies Award for the Next Rated Artiste (2011) later, there was no denying what herculean shoes a tiny boy would achieve.
Such has been the narrative of arguably Nigeria’s most successful artiste and we cannot help but to revel in his story and his marvellous art.
As Wizkid clocks 30 today, I decided to compile a list of 30 top tracks that have done a lot from becoming street anthems, to topping charts and attracting plaques. These sounds have been injected in our veins and in our dancing moves for ten years now and we just cannot ask for more.
My 30 For 30 list is inspired by the pure Wizkid FC spirit in me and not by any prior facts or statistics. It is quite possible that you may have a different list and why not? The man has served enough on the plate for everyone to choose from.
So, in no particular order, I present my 30 For 30 top Wizkid songs list (including feature collaborations with other artistes).
1. Picture Perfect
Let them keep on talking girl, we send nobody…
Maybe this is coming on my list first because it is the most recent Wizkid track I have listened to. It may not be the greatest of the lot, but it is certainly never ignored. Picture Perfect came off Wizkid’s third studio album, Sounds From The Other Side in 2017. The track, whose lyrics was just what you need to get a lady going, was a combination of Dancehall and Hip-Hop and formed a part of other successful tracks on a widely acclaimed album.
2. Dirty Wine
Dirty Wine is yet another awesome track off the Sounds From The Other Side (SFTOS) album. In this track, Wizkid flexed his international status with a collaboration with American rapper, TY Dollar Sign. The song was produced by another international character in DJ Mustard. The groove and perhaps, the international status of the song is enougj to earn a spot on this long list.
3. Come Closer
Just as I mentioned earlier, the STFOS album is simply one of hits. It is easily recognized as one of the best albums from the shores of the country. If any reason, we have Come Closer to thank for it. Come Closer is very much the lead single of a chart topping album. Wizkid yet again had an international backbone, this time with Canadian rapper, Drake coming to the surface. Come Closer indeed came closer to massive airplay and streams and topped the charts in many countries worldwide. This stellar track ruled 2017 and was no stranger to awards. Come Closer won the 2017 Headies Award For Best Music Video and also the Headies Award For Viewer’s Choice. It won the Billboard Award For Top Streaming Song (Audio) 2017, battling and overcoming a series of international hits in that year. It also got nominated for the Soul Train Award For Best Dance Performance.
4. One Dance (Drake, Kyla)
The Drake and Wizkid partnership has churned out successful collaborations even before Come Closer. Such was 2016’s global hit, One Dance, where Drake formed a team with you-know-who and British singer, Kyla. And since One Dance was accepted globally, it became quite natural for plaques to tag along. The song earned Wizzy his first Billboard Music Award For Top R&B Collaboration. The song also came through for the Echo Award Song of the Year and several other nominations.
5. Brown Skin Girl (Beyonce, Blue Ivy Carter, Saint Jhn)
You just cannot omit the words ‘Wizkid’ amd ‘hit’ in the same berth.
Off the back of the widely successful Lion King Movie released in 2019, comes an equally successful movie titled album from global superstar, Beyonce. The album received positive reviews, especially since it involved every part of the African sound and culture. The song of choice for most, if not all, in the album was Beyonce’s Brown Skin Girl. In what you’d describe as ‘the bomb’, the collaboration between Beyonce and Wizkid sent pop culture into a frenzy. What would have been seen before then as the stuff of dreams became a realuty, hence its success all over the world. Brown Skin Girl recently won the BET H.E.R Award 2020, giving Wizkid his third BET recognition. The song also won the NAACP Image Award For Outstanding Duo or Group in 2020.
6. Holla At Your Boy
What’s a Wizkid 30 for 30 list without his breakthrough song?
Holla At Your Boy was Wizkid’s introduction to the world or rather, the world’s introduction to Wizkid. Holla At Your Boy was heard everywhere music is played upon its release, and it became the lead single of the then E.M.E whiz kid (what’s in a name?)first studio album Superstar in 2011.
7. Oluwa Lo Ni
Oluwa Lo Ni was the typical hustler’s anthem upon its release. The track had an emotional attachment to it as the lyrics (and video) spoke of the star’s road to fame. It was also one of the rich list of hits in the Superstar album.
8. Don’t Dull
Oya oya ask your mommy. Awon eleyi awon eleyi won bad gon
The Samklef produced monster hit is another off the Superstar album. Wizkid’s growing status as the best artiste in Nigeria took another monster turn with Don’t Dull. True to its name, there was no dulling at the sound of the track in anywhere a track is played.
9. Good Love ( DJ Maphorisa)
Wizkid teamed up with South African turn table lord, Dj Maphorisa, to release Good Love. The Hip Hop/ Trap feel showed just how vast in creativity Starboy could be. Little wonder why the 2016 track was a hit across the continent.
10. Baddest Boy (E.M.E, Banky W, Skales)
Banky W had the future in sights when he signed Wizkid and Skales to his Empire Mates Entertainment label. He wanted to make a statement to the world that he had the ‘baddest’ boys in town, so together, they came up with Baddest Boy. Any Wizkid list should have the 2012 track produced by Legendury Beatz.
Pakurumo was appreciated across Africa. Yet another hit off the successful Superstar album, the groovy track had thousands, if not millions, up on their feet whenever it is played. It is a worthy mention on my list.
12. Azonto (Freestyle)
At a period where the azonto dance was on the feet of everyone, Wizkid decided to drop his Azonto freestyle in 2012. The clean visuals accompanied with the track earned Wizkid a Most Gifted Video Of the Year reward at the Channel O’ Music Awards in 2012.
13. Manya (Mut4Y)
You are likely to take all of Starboy’s money when Manya comes up.
Halfway through 2017, Ghanian act, Mut4Y teamed up with Wizkid to record Manya, which gained instantaneous response for its rhythm, flow and totally African instrumentals. Manya was Afropop at its best.
14. Soco (Starboy, Terri, Spotless, Ceeza Milli)
The StarBoy C.E.O worked with his label acts in Terri, Spotless and Ceeza Milli to bless our ears with Soco. Soco wasn’t restricted to Nigeria alone but gained notoriety across Africa and other continents. In 2018, it got nominated for the Best Collabo of the Year at the City People Music Awards.
15. U Don’t Know (Justin Skye)
American singer Justin Skye, teamed up with Wizkid to release the groovy U Don’t Know track in 2016. What you would know and probably anticipated upon release of the track though, was Wizkid’s smashing verse. No wonder the song was widely appreciated here in Nigeria.
16. Gidi Girl
Gidi Girl is likely to be an unsurprising omission from a lot of people. But to some, like me, it remains an evergreen song. Wizkid came easy and gentle with Gidi Girl, and even offered us a rap verse along the line.
17. Jaiye Jaiye
Jaiye Jaiye to a lot of people, was Wizkid’s Fela reincarnation. Featuring the legendary Femi Kuti, Wizkid took us back (to those who have been there anyway) to the atmosphere of the widely worshipped Fela Shrine for a sensational groove. Jaiye Jaiye was released in 2013 off his Ayo album.
18. Daddy Yo
Wizkid came smashing the charts during Christmas period of 2016 to give us Daddy Yo. Daddy Yo was included in the SFTOS project and it featured Efya.
To a great deal of people, Ojuelegba is Wizkid’s best ever song till date. It received the widest acclaim you can think of of a Wizkid track, it topped charts for weeks and even had international collaborations in the form of Drake and U.K act, Skepta. Ojuelegba was Wizkid’s message to us all; the hustle is real. It became the lead single in Wizkid’s second studio album Ayo in 2014 and received the Headies Award For Song of the Year in 2015 and the Nigerian Entertainment Award For Hottest Single of the Year.
20. Can’t Believe ( Kranium, TY Dollar Sign)
2017 was Wizkid’s international collaboration year and he made due note of it by featuring on Jamaican act, Kranium’s track titled Can’t Believe. Can’t Believe was a dancehall groive and it featured regularly on MTV Base’s Top 50 Countdown.
21. Wiz Party
Wiz Party came off as a bonus track in Wizkid’s Superstar album. Wiz Party became the right recipe for all club outings across the country.
22. Expensive Sh*t
Music producer Sarz and Wizkid have always been a match made in Afrobeat heaven. They affirmed the statement in 2015, with Starboy’s Expensive Sh*t. Expensive Sh*t became a regular on Soundcity’s Top 10 Countdown.
23. Caro (Starboy, L.A.X)
Did you think I would forget the almighty Caro on this list?
Starboy Entertainment came through with the massive 2013 hit, Caro. Caro was Starboy Entertainment’s first official recording and it featured L.A.X. With a hit firmly in place, Wizkid had us looking for Caro all 2013.
24. Ma Lo (Tiwa Savage, Spellz)
Wizkid and Tiwa Savage’s was a tale of unflinching chemistry off recording. They reproduced the same energy in the studios though and Ma Lo was a testament to that. Produced by Spellz, the 2017 jam won the Headies Award For Best Collabo in 2017.
25. Mamacita (Tinie Tempah)
A personal favorite of mine, Mamacita was released in 2016 by English rapper, Tinie Tempah. Of course, Wizzy’s renderation is why it features on this list.
26. Low (Larry Gaga)
Wizkid didn’t do much in 2019 in terms of serving us with what we love. In fact, we didn’t get an actual Wizkid hit from a proven hitman until late in 2019. But mudway through the year, we got a collaboration with Larry Gaga. It proved to be one of the best collaborations of the year.
Joro was Starboy’s christmas gift to us all in 2019. The carribean dancehall tune gained wide acceptance across the world. It even became something of more interest, as some opined it to be part of Wizkid’s long awaited- and still awaiting- Made In Lagos album.
Although it was a massive single, much attention was given to the on screen chemistry between Wizkid and fellow Nigerian superstar, Tiwa Savage. With rumours of both being in a relationship circling around, Fever did give us the fever across the soundwaves. The 2018 release got nominated for the City People Music Award For Popular Song of the Year.
29. Kana (Olamide)
Wizkid and YBNL act Olamide, over the years have developed the outstanding chemistry to lace us with hits. They did it back in the day with Omo to Shan and they did it again with Kana in 2018. As expected, a barrage of streamings took place.
30. Roll Up (Emtee, AKA)
Rounding up what has been a hit lacerated list is 2015 song Roll Up. Wizkid was at his fluent best, featuring on South African act, Emtee’s track. The song also included a touch of another SA talent in AKA.
And that is how we have had a decade of the amazing Wizkid. And the greatness continues. Happy Birthday Starboy!