23-year-old Ayo Balogun, better known by his stage name Wizkid is undeniably one of the most sought-after male artists on the African continent. A string of hits including ‘Don’t Dull’ and ‘Pakurumo’ have not only made the Nigerian star synonymous with feel-good party jams and propelled him to hearthrob status, but have also earned him a spot on the Konvict Musik roster after grabbing to the attention of label boss Akon. So with all the hype surrounding the bright young star, The Wrap Up’s Nonny Orakwue hung out with Wizkid to talk antics on tour, his forthcoming mixtape, signing to Disturbing London and more...
The Wrap Up: You’re one of Africa’s hottest young stars right now. Why do you think everyone is looking to the next generation of artists like you, Davido and Ice Prince?
Wizkid: I think it’s just ‘cos of the music; the music has like really, really changed from what it used to be like when we had big brothers in the game going in like 2Face. They’re still doing their thing right now and it’s just so amazing that they give us a lot of respect and still help us and support us. A big, big shout out to 2Face and Don Jazzy. But I think it’s just the sound, it’s fresh and it’s young.
TWU: You’re known for party tracks like ‘Don’t Dull’, ‘Pakurumo’ and ‘Tease Me’. But what is your favourite Wizkid tune?
Wizkid: It’s actually one that I’ve just recorded, so nobody’s heard it, you’ll have to wait for the mixtape [laughs].
TWU: So out of the one’s we have heard, which one would you choose?
Wizkid: Umm… my favourite Wizkid tune of all time would be ‘Don’t Dull’ ‘cos I recorded the track in like 5 minutes. The beat was ready, we went into the studio and freestyled and it was ready. The song became really, really big so I think ‘Don’t Dull’ is still my favourite.
TWU: If there was anything you would want listeners to take away from your music, what would you want it to be?
Wizkid: Whenever I make music I just make it depending on however I feel at that moment and what I’m getting inspiration from, so it depends – whatever, it’s just my mood. But I just like to make feel good music; everyone who knows me knows I like to have fun, like when we’re on tour I like to have fun [laughs].
TWU: So, can you let us in on any stories?
Wizkid: [Laughs] The madness. Nah there’s a lot of stories we can’t tell you. Whatever happens on tour… stays on tour! That’s our code [laughs].
TWU: Speaking of tours, last year you had a sold out headline show at Hammersmith Apollo, then later went on to perform at BBC 1Xtra Live. Were you surprised at the phenomenal reaction of the UK fans at the 1Xtra gig?
Wizkid: That was crazy, I was a little bit surprised ‘cos we basically had everybody in the crowd singing along to my songs and I was like ‘OK, it’s crunch time!’ [laughs].
TWU: You recently shocked fans and the industry by signing a management deal with Tinie Tempah’s Disturbing London label here in the UK. How did that come about?
Wizkid: Well I’ve known Dumi [Tinie’s manager] for quite a while and we’ve always said we wanted to work together, and now the time was just right.
TWU: As an artist you’re always getting interviewed, but what question do you hate being asked?
Wizkid: Like when someone that knows they’re coming to interview you goes “can you please introduce yourself?” That annoys me. If you’re coming to do an interview with me you should know about me, it’s not that it’s ‘cos I’m Wizkid; I’d even hate it if you were coming to interview my friend and asked him the same question. You’re here for an interview so you should know who you’re doing the interview with.
TWU: So you’re currently in the UK recording your mixtape, do you know what it’s going to be called yet?
Wizkid: Well I have a few ideas for the name but I’m just deciding which one, but I’m not going to tell you what they are [laughs].
TWU: I’ve noticed that you’ve been in the studio with producer SX and rapper G FrSH. Can we expect to hear some distinctly UK flavours on the mixtape?
Wizkid: Definitely, but I’d describe the sound of the mixtape as global; there’s a bit of everything on there. I’ve worked with all the Disturbing London crew, so you can expect to hear those collaborations. I really like the UK sound, but I don’t think anyone knows how much I really like it or has heard me on anything like it really, so the mixtape will give me a chance to show that.
TWU: So who else have you been in the studio with?
Wizkid: Rodney Rhymez, my man Maleek Berry, I also got Wale on there and quite a few others, but I can’t say [laughs]. You’ll just have to wait and see. I was also in the studio with Angel working on a track for his album too, so there’s going to be a lot of material.
TWU: Which African artists do you think are worth watching out for this year?
Wizkid: [Pauses] Burna Boy, definitely. He had a good 2012 and I think he’s one to watch out for. Also, ShayDee from the E.M.E camp, he’s going to doing his thing this year for sure.
TWU: Finally, what else have you got planned for 2013?
Wizkid: Obviously the mixtape, more recording, doing more shows - it’s gonna be crazy!
Stay up to date with Wizkid on Twitter.
Words: Nonny Orakwue (@Verbal_Vixen)