Interview
Wizkid. Image courtesy of the artist.

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.

Related: Listen to New Wizkid Songs From His Surprise 2019 EP 'Soundman Vol. 1'

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.

Interview
Justice Mukheli. Courtesy of Black Major/Bongeziwe Mabandla.

Interview: Bongeziwe Mabandla's New Album Is a Calm Meditation On Relationships

We speak with the South African artist about his captivating new album, iimini, love cycles, and the unexpected influence of Bon Iver.

"I've been playing at home for so many years and pretending to be having shows in my living room, and today it's actually happening," Bongeziwe Mabandla says, smiling out at me from my cellphone as I watch him play songs on Instagram Live, guitar close to his chest.

Two weekends ago, Mabandla was meant to be celebrating the release of his third album, iimini, at the Untitled Basement in Braamfontein in Joburg, which would no doubt have been packed with some of the many fans the musician has made since his debut release, Umlilo, in 2012. With South Africa joining many other parts of the world in a lockdown, those dates were cancelled and Mabandla, like many other artists, took to social media to still play some tracks from the album. The songs on iimini are about the life and death of a relationship—songs that are finding their way into the hearts of fans around the world, some of whom, now stuck in isolation, may be having to confront the ups and downs of love, with nowhere to hide.

The day before his Instagram Live mini-show, Mabandla spoke to OkayAfrica on lockdown from his home in Newtown about the lessons he's learned from making the album, his new-found love for Bon Iver, and how he's going to be spending his time over the next few weeks.

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Interview
Lueking Photos. Courtesy of emPawa Africa.

Interview: GuiltyBeatz Proves He's Truly 'Different'

The Ghanaian producer talks to us about his debut EP, Different, the massive success of "Akwaaba," producing for Beyoncé and more.

GuiltyBeatz isn't a new name in the Ghanaian music scene. A casual music fan's first introduction to him would've likely been years ago on "Sample You," one of Mr Eazi's early breakout hits. However, he had scored his first major hit two years before that, in the Nigerian music space on Jesse Jagz' and Wizkid's 2013 hit "Bad Girl." In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists.

In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists, having worked with the likes of Efya, Pappy Kojo, Sarkodie, R2Bees, Stonebwoy, Bisa Kdei, Wande Coal, Moelogo and many more over the last decade. The biggest break of the talented producer's career, however, came with the arrival of his own single "Akwaaba".

In 2018, GuiltyBeatz shared "Akwaaba" under Mr Eazi's Banku Music imprint, shortly afterwards the song and its accompanying dance went viral. The track and dance graced party floors, music & dance videos, and even church auditoriums all around the world, instantly making him one of Africa's most influential producers. Awards, nominations, and festival bookings followed the huge success of "Akwaaba." Then, exactly a year later, the biggest highlight of his career so far would arrive: three production credits on Beyoncé's album The Lion King: The Gift.

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Image via Wikimedia Commons

Nollywood Actress, Funke Akindele, Arrested for Throwing Party During Coronavirus Lockdown

Naira Marley, who was also in attendance, has also turned himself in according to local reports.

Star Nigerian actress, Funke Akindele, and her husband, rapper JJC Skillz, were arrested on Monday after hosting a party at their home which violated Lagos' coronavirus lockdown order.

The actress came under fire over the weekend, when footage of a party she threw for her husband's birthday began circulating on social media. The clips showed several people, including fellow Nollywood actress Eniola Badmus and Nigerian rapper Naira Marley, gathered inside of Akindele's Lagos home. According to a report from Pulse Nigeria, Marley also turned himself in on Monday for attending the function and will be arraigned.

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Screenshot from YouTube.

Watch Champagne69’s Music Video for ’15 Goons’

Champagne69 release a music video for their single '15 Goons.'

South African hip-hop duo Champagne69 shared a new music video for their single "15 Goons." The song was produced by NotBenjamin alongside Ezechiel (SorryZeke).

"15 Goons" is a minimalist 808 and bass-laden tune in which the duo glide with ease as they pay homage to their goons.

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