The Lagos singer-songwriter born Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun began his storied career at the age of 11 as Lil Prinz, and spent the better part of a decade experimenting with various styles and collaborators, figuring out exactly who he wanted to be as an artist. As Wizkid, he embarked on a solo career at the turn of the 2010s, spearheaded by singles that announced him as an innovative and charismatic voice at the cutting edge of Afrobeats. His 2011 debut album, Superstar, compiles these singles and a variety of other balmy and club-ready multilingual jams. It’s a charming opening salvo for one of the more impressive careers in the history of African pop music. In its content, melodies, and production, Wiz’s 2009 single “Holla at Your Boy,” included on Superstar, mixed elements of Top 40 American R&B and swagged-out ringtone rap, becoming Wiz’s first fully-fledged hit. It’s one of several tracks on the album in clear conversation with hip-hop across the Atlantic. Wizkid introduces himself by the nickname Weezy on the album’s sunny opener “Say My Name”; fittingly, the influence of Lil Wayne is apparent here, from the Southern-rap-informed production to Wiz’s halting, swaggy flow. Throughout Superstar, the singer and rapper delivers a spread of convincing, inevitably catchy experiments in distinctly of-the-moment, multilingual Nigerian pop, as informed by his home country’s musical traditions as by Western aesthetics. “Pakurumo” is an excellent example of a distinctly Lagos-styled track, featuring Wizkid delivering come-ons through an expressively backfiring Auto-Tune patch over a dense flurry of polyrhythmic uptempo 808s. Some of the towering moments on the record—insouciant fan favorite “Tease Me / Bad Guys”—highlight the reggae and dancehall influence that runs through Wiz’s discography, commingled with production details and slang pointing toward African and U.S. traditions.

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