Interview: Wizkid on Pushing Nigerian Music Forward
In an exclusive interview with OkayAfrica, Wizkid talks about his new singles "Joro" & "Ghetto Love," reveals that he wanted to drop Made In Lagos on Nigerian Independence day, tells us about working with Beyoncé and more.
Wizkid's been revving up for the release of his long-awaited and much talked about album, Made In Lagos, a follow-up to 2017's Sounds From The Other Side.
While SFTOS could be viewed as a push into Western territories, one which saw the Nigerian superstar connecting with North American heavyweights like Drake, Chris Brown, Ty Dolla $ign & Major Lazer (and capitalizing on the success of "One Dance"), Made In Lagos looks to be a return to Nigeria. Not that he's ever left.
In what, for his usual standards, has been a relatively quiet year, Wizkid has still remained a constant and large presence. 2019 saw the Nigerian artist break Spotify records, drop big collaborations like "Totori," "Dis Love," "I Like," and feature on "Brown Skin Girl," the standout song from Beyoncé's Lion King: The Gift album.
Recently, he's dropped his first two solo singles of the year: the head-nodder "Ghetto Love," produced by Killertunes and Kel P, and the Northboi-produced "Joro."
We connected with Wizkid to chat about his new singles, his plans for Made In Lagos, the upcoming Starboyfest and much more. Read ahead below.
WizKid - Joro (Official Video) youtu.be
Where are you right now? Paint the scene for us.
I'm currently in London, in a studio with white walls, there are 5 people with me and am about to go to radio, just dropped a new single, "Joro," [the other] night. I am in a good space.
Let's talk about your new single "Joro." What's the inspiration & background of the song?
It was inspired by love. It's talking about not wanting to lose love. "Joro" means enjoyment, so on the chorus it means at the end of the day, "if I can be with you, we can enjoy ourselves."
Who produced it? Any stories from the studio sessions while recording it?
[It was] produced by Northboi and mixed by STG. Big up to my guys. There was a part recorded when I had my son Zion with me. I actually had to wait for him to sleep. I wanted to drop it to mark Nigerian Independence. It's for my people. I always want to recognize my people, my country.
"I always want to recognize my people, my country."
How does Wizkid typically celebrate Nigerian Independence Day?
I have so much love, [so much] to celebrate. I am working but if I was home, I would be with friends and family just having a good time.
Wizkid. Image courtesy of the artist.
How did the concept for your upcoming Starboyfest concerts come about?
I have always been a big lover of moving together, moving in numbers because I believe we are stronger that way. So I believed that it's only right to have a platform where you have all these amazing artists in one space.
How do you pick the artists joining you on big concerts like Starboyfest?
I really just pick anyone who is making good music, people I am a fan of. I have a show coming in Manchester on October 18 for Starboyfest and another in London at 02 Arena. It will be my second time playing that venue. London is a city close to my heart. It's a home away from home so always special and on October 26, I play in Paris.
"I have always been a big lover of moving together, moving in numbers, because I believe we are stronger that way."
"Ghetto Love" also just dropped and it was your first official solo single of 2019. How come you didn't release any other solo singles this year before then? How has the reception to Ghetto Love been?
It's been blessed. I am so grateful for all the love that I have received and continue to receive. I enjoy collaborating. I enjoy creating so I don't get too caught up.
WizKid - Ghetto Love (Official Video) www.youtube.com
Tell us about the upcoming album. When is it coming?
It's coming. It's called Made In Lagos. I actually wanted it to come out on Independence day but, you know, I went to Jamaica and started recording more music. Burna Boy, Skepta, Damian Marley all feature. Expect killer tunes and the most vibes.
What was it like working on "Brown Skin Girl" for Beyoncé's Lion King: The Gift album? How did that song come together?
It has been an incredible experience. It was actually [producer] P2J who made the call. He produced it and asked me to get on it and didn't say any more than that. Then when he told me what it was for, of course I was in. Anything for Queen Bey. It's such an important record, especially for now.
"It's been amazing to see Nigerian, African culture traveling, pushed by all of us in our small way."
You are one of the initial artists to be recognized in America in terms of this modern wave of afro-fusion or 'afrobeats.' How has that crossover process been for you?
Really? That's blessed. I don't look at it like that. I am just playing my part. Before me big brother D'banj had "Oliver Twist." I saw that video when it dropped and he had Kanye West in it. I think it's been amazing to see Nigerian, African culture traveling, pushed by all of us in our small way. This is why I love to drop music on a day like today [Nigerian Independence day].
What's been the most challenging part about getting to where you're at in your career right now?
It's all a blessing, even the challenging parts are blessings.
How do you want to be remembered?
I hate questions like this but I guess I'd like to be remembered with love. For making people happy. For making people smile. And for making people love.
"I am a fan of Nigerian artists, full stop."
If you weren't in music what would you be doing?
I think somehow, I would have ended up with something to do with music or pushing culture.
Favorite new artists coming out of Africa, or Nigerian, right now that people should be checking for?
I am a fan of Nigerian artists, full stop. Everyone from Burna Boy, Davido, Tiwa Savage, Rema, Joeboy, Teni, Fireboy, Starboy Terri. There's so much good music around. The music is endless.
Wizkid's "Joro" and "Ghetto Love" are out now. Grab tickets to Starboy Fest in London, Manchester and Paris here.