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Wizkid: Disturbing Nigeria


WHEN AFROBEATS star Wizkid walks into the Disturbing London headquarters, the home of his new London-based management company headed by Dumi Oburota, the man behind UK rapper Tinie Tempah, he apologises profusely for his lateness and then it's straight down to business.

The 24-year-old performer, real name Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, who touched down in the capital the night before ahead of his headline gig at London's IndigO2, has spent the last three years of his life bouncing between the stage and the studio.

Three years since the release of his debut album Superstar, fans were overjoyed when he announced he would be releasing follow-up and self-titled Ayo earlier this month.

“I put a lot of work in the album so I wanted it to be a part of me so my fans have a piece of me. I was like, 'why don't I just call it Ayo?’ which is my real name.”

Ayo in the Yoruba language also means joy, and is a consistent continuation on from where Superstar ended, immediately securing the No.1 position on the iTunes world music chart.

On his new offering, Wizkid explained: “I just wanted to create a good vibe, good music and good production. I wanted my fans to have fun, they know I'm a turnt up guy but at the same time I put some songs in there that just talk to you about the every day hustle. My life in general.”

A well-known king of collaborations, having worked with most of the industry in his Nigerian hometown, it is no surprise that his latest album features some impressive collaborations from around the world including US rappers Wale and Tyga and fellow Afrobeats artists Seyi Shay.

On putting together the final track list for the album, he described the process of getting back into the studio and getting feedback from the producers he worked with.

He also says he spent much time “by myself, listening to track after track to see if it sounded good and how I would feel as a normal kid on the street hearing this for the first time.”

With a Best African Act Music Of Black Origin (MOBO) Award already on his mantelpiece, the teenage heartthrob has been nominated in the same category at this year's ceremony is considered the most competitive yet with nods going to fellow Afrobeats stars Afrikan Boy, Davido, Tiwa Savage and UK-based star Fuse ODG. However, he remains unfazed.

For now, he's concentrating on upcoming celebrations for Nigeria’s Independence Day on October 1.

“Nigeria is not the greatest place in the world to live in but the people are great and they deserve to have the best of the best,“ he says.

While commending the government on structural improvements, including the roads of Nigeria, the young star couldn't help but air his grievances. On what he would change, if anything, about the nation he admitted: “I would just want 24-hour electricity. Everywhere else I go in the world there's 24-hour electricity and we don't even have that back home.”

With a presidential election set to take place in his country next year, the award-winning artist revealed a number of political figures had attempted to reach out to him to join their campaign.

“A lot of politicians reached out to me but I would never do anything political and I don't support a particular person. I don't vote, I'm not saying you shouldn't but I feel like I have a voice [through music] and I'm just trying to use that for my generation to let people know what's going on.”

Though he is hesitant about joining forces with political parties, Wizkid was amongst the many celebrities who took to social media in April as part of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.

The mass kidnapping of approximately 273 girls from a boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria has attracted global attention and the star, who has three sisters, was one of the high-profile acts to add his name to ensuring the girls safe return.

“It's really sad,” he said. “I don't know what the government is doing about it but I couldn't imagine not seeing my sisters for five months, I just pray that God helps and smiles on us.”

When you're a hit-making machine with loyal fans, selling out London's IndigO2 isn't a difficult task and this was the case when Wizkid took the stage last Friday (Sept 26).

The highly-anticipated gig was the most sought after ticket in the capital and the self confessed 'turnt up guy' was as reflective of his core fan base, mostly made up of young girls, who came to have a good time.

As the front man of his own label Starboy, Wizkid was supported by his signed acts Maleek Berry and L.A.X who both joined him on stage.

Also joining him on stage were UK rapper Tinchy Stryder, rap duo Krept and Konan and his Disturbing London brother Tinie Tempah.

Wizkid admits he is inspired by artists from all around the world and promises that fans will see to what extent on his upcoming mixtape.

“The mixtape is basically five hot tracks. I just dropped some of my own type of music on there, something different and something exciting. It's me branching out and just me being me: silly and fun.”

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