The ‘Chosen’ One-Star Boy

wiz
Wizkid

 

As we patiently await the next album from the ‘star boy’ wizkid-that’s a lot of waiting done considering his last effort was in 2011- here is a throwback on his career and events leading to his rise to prominence in the music industry across Africa and beyond.

The vocally talented young man was discovered by the distinguished producer OJB Jezrel. Walking into his studio in surulere at the tender age of 15. OJB though saw the talent and will in wizkid, he had to suppress him for a year, restricting him from recording any song of his own. Although, he did some features for MI, Naeto  C and co-wrote a track with Banky W off the W experience album in 2006, here is where young Ayo Balogun(that we’ll all come to know as wizkid) formed a professional relationship with Mr Wellington.

Banky W was confident and was willing to invest in wizkid -at that time he was getting a university degree at the prestigious Lagos State Uni- and signed him on to his newly floated record label Empire Mates Entertainment, EME.

In 2010, wizkid began recording songs that would later feature in his super star album. He released Holla at your boy the lead single off the album, in June 2, 2010. The track was an instant success, bagging the 2011 Headies award in the next rated category; it was also nominated for the best afro-pop song in the same year. The video was nominated at the channel o music video awards in best afro-pop category. Singles like don’t dull, tease me (bad guys) soon followed to whet his fans’ appetite.  The album finally dropped on June 12, 2011 under the Empire mates Entertainment.

Wizkid have since worked with almost every skilled producer from all over Africa and even in the UK and the US. It’s like everything the star boy puts his voice on becomes a hit. Since then he’s been breaking every barrier life can throw at a young man from the most populous black nation in the world.

There was a brief raucous, some disagreement between wizkid and his label early in 2013. Nobody from the company or wizkid’s camp released an official statement addressing the issue. But from bits I could gather and filling up the blanks I couldn’t quiet get a hold of, here’s what I have made out of the matter (in my opinion); prior to his first tour of the UK in mid 2012, wizkid had no legal contract with EME, the UK wanted a contract in their hands showing that Wizkid was infact a performing act before allowing him a visa, admist the excitement a contract was quickly  arranged by EME, tieing wizkid to a total of 7 albums, prepostrous right?(the only way wizkid was gonna sign this deal, was a promise to review it in time by EME). And there was ofcourse the issue of splitting money he made for the company. He therefore called for a new contract whilst the former hasn’t elapsed. He was poised to abandon EME, got together with his management in the UK(disturbing London, which was partly owned by the British born hip-hop act Tinnie Temper) and formed a new record label Star Boy where he signed the young and proficient producer/sound engineer Malik Berry. They both undertook various projects and released new materials including the freestyle the matter where the listeners could hear the phrase “star boy” repeatedly, replacing the already used to, ‘EME boy’. He later introduced L.A.X an artist signed under the star boy label in the song caro. Star boy was now ready to release its first album and wizkids second professional effort. EME probably got a hang of the situation, and what he would cost the label if he’d left. Nobody’s sure of what the new deal/contract borders on, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr Wellington and the honorable captain gave him a piece of the company(at least that’s what I’ll do) albeit giving him blessings to continue his pursuit as a entrepreneur with his newly floated record label(it was a win-win).

With that brouhaha past him, Wizkid has continued to bridge gaps and consequently set trends for afro-pop. He is seen taking photos during his studio sessions with the recently released convicted felon Chris brown. His new album which we all been waiting for (like I said, has been a lot of waiting) is to be recorded in various studios in the US and who knows where else, with prominent international producers on board working the album. The album which he already told us would be titled Chosen  is set to be dropped later this year, and he’s confident that he’d win back the affection of whatever fan he might have lost during these years without an album for them to jam. To be honest, if we added up all the singles and freestyles we’ve been hearing from Mr Wizzy for the past year, we could make a whole album for him, I wonder why he decided not to drop until now, this gives me a feeling that he’s really planning something big, not big as in weight I mean big as in colossal, a game changing kind of stuff. With all sincerity, after waiting this long, it’ll be disappointing to get anything slightly less or even equal to his star boy album, and I hope he doesn’t disappoint us.

What Makes A Great Hip-Hop Artist

What Makes A Great Hip-Hop Artist by @shiznnitz
Though the term hip-hop is a sub-culture defined by four (4)key elements: MC-ing/rapping,  DJ-ing/scratching,  break-dancing and graffiti writing, however for the sake of simplicity we would restrict the use of the term hip-hop to mean rhythm and poetry (rap).
I’m not a performer of hip-hop; a devoted consumer of the art is more like it. Although I would love to compile my own list, naming one hip-hop act above the other, but to be honest, we are yet to be given pointers on how to determine a better artist or rather the best. Most times it’s just about how an highly rated critic feels about it.
They say delivery, yet I feel all the songs we’re able to listen to are well delivered, I mean in truth, a bad delivery would mean the song won’t get listeners (its basic reasoning that’s why songs sell or don’t sell). These elements set the standards for acceptability and marketability.
Another element they point out is content- now before I go further ,  I’ll bring an instance of a very good rapper(in my opinion), Vector YSG in his feature on OD wood’s track, saying ‘if you need loving I’ll come, to sample your Davido album’.  The Davido album in the context refers to the title of the album OBO, which means something in his native tongue (Yoruba), but you can’t fully appreciate the line (his word play) if you don’t understand what it means.  So yes I agree content should be a pointer, but then again music is an intangible art form, such that it can only be perceived, and perceptions vary , hence the varying extent of consumption of the content. This element in this particular subject is now flawed.
Another important feature of an emcee is his ability to brag. Rappers tend to carry around with them this “I’m the best and no one can touch me” kind of attitude.  Who recalls the all star track by TI, “Swagga Like Us” off his 2008 album, Paper Trail? The track featured 3 heavyweights, including Lil Wayne, Jay Z, and Kanye West . Guess what they were rapping about? Every single one of them was the self-acclaimed best.
More recently LOS did a song “Bad Guy P” and then did the remix with Banky W. He said on the track “and I’m not even a rapper though” yet  he delivered a good rap verse and  yes, he also claimed he’s the best. C’mon Mr. Wellington, be merciful on dem beat.
The most important thing I believe is proficiency, and how do we measure this, by follower-ship, amount of records sold (statistics). Because frankly, that’s the simplest way to look at it. This way the consumers have spoken for themselves, not waiting for some award committee.  In 2011 BET awards, when Busta Rhymes was presented an award and  the crowd’s reaction was massive, he said in his speech ‘When you get this kind of noise from the fans after receiving an award, it tells you the extent to which your work is being appreciated, ‘cause sometimes we don’t know where the award committees conjure up their awardees list.’ That to me, sums it all up.
However, I believe that any artist that sells 500k units, deserves to be called a king in his own lane.

Don Jazzy & His Huge Mavin Gamble

Don Jazzy & His Huge Mavin Gamble by @shiznnitz

Although his recent achievements dwarf those in the past, his recent signatures might not be as profitable.  In the post-Mo Hits era, the producer/singer and CEO mavin records has signed 2 female acts, Tiwa Savage and the Nigerian/ Sierra-Leonian singer Di’ja along with 2 male acts, Korede Bello and the newest kid, Reekado. Apart from Tiwa savage, the other  artists  are relatively unknown. Making the unknown arts known and bringing them to stardom is the prerequisite for his profit making. Achieving this however might be an almost impossible task.

Unless the enigmatic producer is signing some as back-up vocalists, the chances of promoting all as recording artists the same time and getting the best out of them is almost impossible. Even the greatest record label owners and producers would take it 1 artist at a time. Dr  Dre found Eminem, when Eminem made a name for himself, he (Dre) moved on to 50 cent, and then to Kendrick Lamar. The all conquering  Mr Carter, brought in Kanye first, and now he has  J. Cole.

You can argue that instances sited are from the international scene alone and might not necessarily apply in the local scene, that in fact Don jazzy has done it before by promoting all the Mo-Hit crew members back when Mo-Hit was functional. To clarify this, is to take a good look at Wande Coal’s career. Even the deaf knew that the blackest of them all (Wande) was the most talented of them all, still  he (Wande) had to take the back seat after  1 album just so the whole crew can put their back into making D’banj the mega star. Of course other members of the crew like Dr Sid, D’Prince dropped albums, but how big of a star were they back then, just another member of the crew, like Tyga, Gudda Gudda in the Young Money Cash Money crew.

Skales recently took the exit door from Empire mates, a label which was ladened with the responsibility of promoting Wizkid. The young talented rapper/singer could do little to help himself when more of the company’s resources was focused on Wizkid  and the label’s co-owner Banky W.

This is the horror and frustration that comes along with not being the number one priority in ones record label.