The Afrobeats star balances the formula to unite home and abroad with big pop songs that can compete across cultures and an underlying theme that embraces his roots.
It’s been 10 years since WizKid first debuted in Lagos, becoming synonymous with all that is good in Afrobeats. Four years ago, Drake’s “One Dance” introduced the Nigerian pop star internationally, broadening his audience and spotlighting a genre on the verge of becoming a global powerhouse. The 30-year-old singer has picked up the skills to dualize his music, making art with one foot planted firmly at home while the other seeks success in new markets. From making dance records designed to conquer Lagos, he’s expanded into other territories, by leaning heavily on Caribbean influences. It hasn’t been an easy task, and in the time since WizKid gained international recognition, his crossover credentials have been in question back in Africa.
His stateside debut, Sounds From the Other Side, struggled to make a dent commercially. His contract with Sony demands that he continues to play for a global audience, making music that would not work connect locally back home. To work around contractual restrictions, he’s paired with producers and DJs, appearing on their records as an invested guest, to start records in the Nigerian market. More complex still is the ever-changing scene in Lagos, where a new guard of musicians including Omah Lay, Fireboy, and Joeboy are expanding the borders of genre and redefining the local sound. WizKid’s legacy is secure, but in 2020, he’s a king under threat of deposition.
Made in Lagos dispels those doubts over 14 tracks. Here, he’s finally balanced the formula to unite home and abroad with big pop songs that can compete across cultures and an underlying theme that embraces his roots. The project is dedicated to Lagos, Nigeria’s bubbling creative hub, historically the beating heart of Africa’s art community. It’s home for WizKid, the place where he was born, raised, and first accepted. It isn’t his first love letter to his hometown: His previous ode to the city’s popular Ojuelegba neighborhood brought Drake into his life and launched his crossover campaign. He continues to embrace his people in art and in action: As young Nigerians around the world participated in the recent #EndSARS protests against police brutality, WizKid delayed his album release and joined in, marching alongside fans in London and becoming a vocal advocate on social media.