Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Wizkid Wins Entertainment Express Man of the Year

It was not a difficult decision to reach. He stands tall with his phenomenal rise, cult-like followership and the soothing melodies of the music of this 21 year old within the year under review has made our nation forget her woes.

Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun popularly known as Wizkid, Wizzy or Star boy is the first entertainer to be named person of the year by Nigeria’s most authoritative voice on entertainment news- Entertainment Express.

Indeed, this is not only an honour for the young and inspiring artiste, but to the entertainment industry at large.
The emergence of Wizkid did not come without tough scrutiny among dispassionate and distinguished editorial members of the Entertainment Express team.
Meanwhile, there were other runners-up in the build up to our top choice; they include Asa, Chinedu Ikedieze (Aki), Mo’Hits, Mercy Johnson and the late Lady of Songs, Christy Essien Igbokwe. Turn overleaf for the full story. 

To the young, he is Nigeria’s Justin Bieber ; to the old, he is a throwback of the prodigy era of pop icon, Micheal Jackson.  Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, better known as Wizkid, got Nigeria singing in 2011.  Whether his song is blaring from loudspeakers at the bus-stops or the star himself is prancing and dancing on the stage inside the magnificent New Expo Hall of Eko Hotel & Suites, the response he evokes is the same. The crowd bays for more. So great is his crowd appeal that many people – fans and critics alike -  have come to the conclusion that not since the halcyon days of Olaitan Olaonipekun, popularly known as Dagrin, has a young music artiste commanded such an amazing crossover appeal.
From one end of a country that was constantly on its precipice to another, Wizzy’s sing-along melodies and danceable tunes, produced by Samklef, made many Nigerians sing. Troubled and buffeted on many sides by election violence, religious and tribal crisis as well as the unending threat of terrorism, yet Nigerians sing the Wizkid song.

“If you see me drive by, Holler at your boy” is a popular refrain from his debut single but Nigerians didn’t just holler, they roared for more. And Wizkid didn’t disappoint.
The crown prince of EME Records (a label co-owned by R&B crooner, Banky W) responded with one hit after another such as “Don’t Dull,” “Tease Me,” “ I Love My Baby”,” Wizkid Party” and “Pakurumo” among others.

 “Wizkid is indeed a music wiz (ard) kid!” crowed globally acclaimed producer, Cobhams Asuquo. The same feeling is shared among many of his colleagues.  

If the outcome of his album launch show tagged Superstar Concert which held in July 2011  at the 5,000 capacity hall of Eko Hotel was a yardstick to measure his success, then the young artiste excelled with distinction -  jam-packed parking lot which spilled over to the adjoining roads and a capacity-filled  hall were not the only pointers to the success of the show, but also his unforgettable electrifying performances that made many fans continue to talk about the event.

His mentor, Bankole Wellington, otherwise known as Banky W, has been praised for discovering this wizard of hits. Banky W, a multiple award-winning R&B crooner once described his protégé as his backup plan. At the end of the day, he became the big plan.

Fame for the young superstar is not a bed of roses. He had his fair share of the baptism of fire that comes with stardom. Nothing prepared him for his first baptism of fire in August when he was rocked by a scandal that threatened to drown his career. It occurred quickly like a scene from a movie when words filtered in with speed that the promising act had sired a love child. By the time the artist was hit with his second scandal in two months, the Pakurumo crooner had become inured. This time a damaging tale circulated about a sextape allegedly showing the young artiste and an elderly woman in compromising acts. The scandal had hardly died when a mendacious tale of him being arrested over a drug trafficking in Scotland became rife. On top of it all, he had a close shave with armed robbers.
His battered image, some sources averred cost the artiste to lose a lucrative endorsement deal from one of the major conglomerates. Stardom has also cost the Starboy (as some of his fans call him) his education. He was a 200 level student of Industrial Relations of Lead City University, Ibadan before he dropped out of school.

Notwithstanding, the gains are overwhelming. Wizkid is perhaps Nigeria’s most sought-after artiste of the year, sometimes performing in a record four events in a day across two different cities. This translated to stupendous fortunes as he is reputed to charge as much as N2 million per show. As if to thank himself for a job well done, Wizkid pampered himself some months ago with a convertible Volkswagen Car.  

It was a befitting climax for Nigeria’s crown prince of music on a continental platform as he emerged in October the surprise winner of the MOBO award for Best African Act ahead of favourites such as D’Banj and Seun Kuti. He reinforced his dominance when he emerged the Next Rated Artist at The Headies Award, winning a brand new Hyundai Sonata car. He further confirmed that his rise was no fluke -  the fast-rising act again grabbed nomination for MTV’s top Europe Music Awards (EMA) in September.

As the year came to a close, his songs were the DJs’ favourite and clubs’ No 1 song. Indeed, he is a musical hurricane that truly deserves Entertainment Express Man of the Year.


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