Wizkid has become the first African pop star to win the Billboard Music Award. The singer swept through due to his work with Drake on the phenomenal record ‘One Dance’.
The event which held on Sunday, May 21, 2017, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, United States, had the man take home the trophy for the Top Streaming Song, Top R&B Song and Top R&B Collaboration categories.
Once again, the man has pushed through another glass ceiling with his work, and broken the barrier. Africans can aspire to that now.
Fela Kuti has due recognition as the father of modern Nigerian music. His timeless militant music fused from funk, jazz and traditional African chanting created a wave that has seen the rest of the world tap into for inspiration and fusion. Afrobeat, his pioneering genre, has morphed into countless Afro-fusion genres and created a sound for Africa.
Wizkid is exploring that sound, which has seen him move from a local artist to one with international acclaim. And so far, his success has been both entertaining and inspiring. This young man once walked the streets of Lagos, with a prayer in his heart, and talent. Today, he is an international artist seeking to promote African music via partnerships, collaboration and major label funding.
Although, there are reservations about his manner of approach. Wizkid is chasing glory by utilizing Caribbean sounds. All his collaborations and key features have drawn straight from Island influences. His most recent is single ‘Come Closer’, featuring Drake. The song produced by Sarz, his long-time collaborator in Lagos, is projected as a summer hit.
But there are many voices who would rather not focus on the intricacies of music he is pushing. The bigger picture is still clear. A Nigerian artist is achieving new things and succeeding in places where others have failed. If he is able to plant himself as one of the strongest voices in global pop music, he would lay claim to being the greatest Nigerian musician of the millennium.
This is his opportunity. Nigerian music is expanding, crossing previous boundaries and borders into new spheres. Global audiences are cosnuming the music via social media and digital distribution.
For the international stars, the infusion of African sounds, drums and elements is an experiment that many are willing to undertake.
Drake’s writing on “Views” album is reported to have more Nigerian influences than he lets on. His latest project – “More Life” – also draws from the continent. Young Thug has three recorded songs with Davido. Swizz Beatz has worked with MC Galaxy and has recorded with Wizkid. Alicia Keys’ ‘In common’ hit song, will sit comfortable on any African playlist. Jidenna, the man once vilified for his description of the Nigerian societal dangers, has brought his music closer home and is seeking to create a bridge.
But in the center of this is Wizkid, who already has his third studio album, ready to launch a new wave. It is titled “Sounds From The Other Side,” and has been played for select professionals. The reviews have been positive so far.
If Wizkid finds relative and commercial success at that level, he will be the first to spark off a true arms race for Nigerian acts. Major labels will tap into the country’s wealth of sounds, and catalyze a chain reaction that would only result in expansion.
Picture this: 20 years from now, Wizkid is in his forties. As he walks into any gathering, he receives applause as the man, who took our pop international and blew it on that level. Young kids are taught in schools that the success of Nigerian music on the global scale is all the work of Wizkid, with well-chronicled accounts of how it all happened, the records he created, the deals he struck, and the roads he created for others to walk to greatness.
This isn’t on a Fela level, but it’s damn well important. Can he be the greatest Nigerian pop star of all time?