“Everything about Lagos is me,” Wizkid told Apple Music in 2020. “That’s what shaped me, that’s what made me, that’s what inspires me every day.” In turn, Wizkid is shaping not just the sound of his city but the image of Nigeria worldwide. Born Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun in Lagos in 1990, Wizkid hit the stage early, forming the group Glorious Five with church buddies at just 11. A decade later, he had regional success with his synth-kissed single “Holla at Your Boy,” which would appear on his 2011 debut solo album Superstar, but it was the lilting “Ojuelegba,” from 2014’s Ayo, that announced him as a force to be reckoned with. Afrobeats—the 21st-century fusion of styles like highlife and juju with house and UK funky—was on the rise, and for Wizkid, it was a case of right time, right place, right voice. Wizkid’s feature on Drake’s 2016 smash “One Dance” cemented his role as one of Afrobeats’ chief ambassadors, paving the way for 2017’s Sounds From the Other Side, his major-label debut. Assisted by global names like Ty Dolla $ign, Major Lazer, and Drake, the album embraced EDM and dancehall while further developing Afrobeats’ irresistibly airy grooves. It didn’t hurt that Wizkid’s blend of African and Caribbean styles coincided with reggaetón’s explosion, satisfying listeners seeking new sounds from a distinctly global perspective. In 2020, Made in Lagos fused more ideas still into his most cohesive whole and confirmed Wizkid’s role as a musical visionary—not just for African music, but for pop music worldwide.
BORNJuly 16, 1990