This week, Nigerian superstar Wizkid headlined New York City's infamous music venue Madison Square Garden. Here's what went down.
The night started with Wiz entrusting his longtime friend and resident spinner, DJ Tunez to get the party started, and boy, did we party. Time does not exist when you put a bunch of Africans in a room with good music. The Nigerian-American performer delivered hit after hit as he prepared the massive crowd for Starboy’s act. Amongst a plethora of shoutouts to the ladies, Tunez let the room know that a lifelong dream brought him to MSG’s stage—and based on the magnificent lineup of tunes he gifted us with, we’re glad his dream became a reality, too. After lighting the room on fire, Tunez gave the crowd his most convincing “Are you ready to see Big Wiz?” of the evening, and we knew it was showtime.
As darkness settled in the 20,000-plus capacity stadium, the anticipation built as Wiz’s band assembled themselves, all dressed to the 9’s in their matching white ensembles. The first few beats of 2018 hit “Fever” echo through the room and there he was, with his signature fur coat: Starboy had arrived.
It was WIzkid's first time hitting the infamous New York City stage and he made it his own from the get-go. Wiz's energy and excitement for the major accomplishment translated well with the audience—and they made it clear that they were absolutely prepared to match it. Armed with a powerful love for Afrobeats, their culture, and Starboy himself, Wizkid’s fans were ready to get down. And a shoutout to his “day ones” revealed the long journey his supporters have traveled with him, as he burst into 2017 hit “Closer,” to the delight of the audience. We were in the palm of his hand, eagerly and obediently responding to every call to cheer or sing back—and he knew it.
The style king dropped his fur coat to reveal a glittering matching two-piece because, if there’s one thing Wiz is gonna do, it's show up in a fit. The shininess of his attire spoke volumes of the incredible growth Wiz has pursued and attained as a performer. The stage production, flash, and lights were a welcomed but inessential aspect of the excitement around seeing Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun from Ikeja dominate one of the world’s biggest music stages. Wiz has elevated himself fully, a true performer.
Wiz’s chest makes its appearance, and we know Starboy is officially in his zone, encouraging the stadium to chant his new mantra, and name of his latest project, More Love, Less Ego. Introducing his new body of music, the singer breaks into a sultry live rendition of “Call Me Everyday” and yes, it sounds as sexy live as you would imagine. He immediately jumps into “Daddy Yo” only to excuse himself to rectify an issue with his inner ear, hardly missing a beat before restarting the song and giving the ladies the full experience they came for. “You know I came here for the ladies,” he reminds us affectionately throughout the evening, before interrupting one tune to shout out Mama Wiz and Mama Tunez who were in the building and in line to watch their boys shine.
In an opportunity to slow the evening down—and show off his vocal chops—Wiz breaks into a heartfelt delivery of “Frames (Who’s Gonna Know),” wrapped up with a message urging concertgoers to accept the love, joy and good things in their lives. The wholesome moment was quickly lit up with an electrifyingly fresh mix of 2011 hits “Pakuromo,” “Don’t Dull” and Maleek Berry collab “The Matter” among many other of his earlier hits. OG Wizkid FC and Ghanaian fans alike were treated to a surprise shoutout via Wiz’s 2013 “Slow Down” collab with Ghanaian hip-hop group R2bees.
As hit after hit rolled out, Wizkid’s fans stayed on their feet throughout, eager to create new memories around some of their favorite songs. The smile painted on the performer’s face only seemed to illustrate the mutual merriment being experienced on a school night. An inappropriately affectionate male fan rushed the stage during “True Love,” but it did little to rock the singer’s energy and his trusted team of protectors sprung into action to ensure the show went on.
And, finally, the song of the summer (and, according to American rapper Kanye West, the song of mankind) “Essence” picked up with Nigerian songstress Tems’ luscious vocals leading the way. I’m not exaggerating when I say every lyric was sung, the entire room elated to have the opportunity to connect through music.
Starboy said goodnight to us with a lively performance of his self-proclaimed African national anthem, “Ojuelegba.” Green and white confetti flicker through the air, Nigerian flags are brandished, and Africa continues to dominate the world.