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Meet Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun aka Wizkid

RCA Records multi-talented star Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun aka Wizkid was in the country during the weekend for his show at Barbecue Live at KICC. Cynthia Mukanzi caught up with the Nigerian star before his concert

How does it feel to be back in Kenya with a big show awaiting you tonight?

I’m excited to be in Kenya again to perform to my amazing fans in Nairobi. I want to spread love and unity by telling my people that we should always come together and have fun regardless of our identities.

What are you looking forward to when you get on the stage?

More than anything, it’s to make sure my fans have a good time. I can’t wait to see my fans and of course the ladies. You know I have a thing for the ladies.

Is it true that you are hitting the studio with Sauti Sol?

Man, Sauti Sol are my brothers. They are talented and working with them is amazing. We have been in Studio before at one time, I think when I was in Mombasa, but it was a brief encounter so we couldn’t record a song. This time round, it’s going down! We are recording a song before the show and I’m excited to see where it goes.

You are currently one of the best- selling and relevant artistes of this time in Africa and are crossing boundaries with music. How does it feel to be someone whose content is crossing continents?

I really feel blessed to be part of this generation of artistes making great music and opening up Africa to the world. Every time I get in the studio with someone I collaborate with, I see it as an opportunity to show people what I have and show them my talent and culture. I show them that Africa has what it takes to own the music scene.

Who are some of your musical influences?

I’m a big fan of Fela Kuti and Bob Marley. Getting to work with anyone from that family is like a blessing. My love for Fela had me doing his song and it felt amazing to tap into a legends art.

Speaking of Marley, you announced on Twitter that something is in the works between you and Jamaican star Damien Marley. What do you intend to draw from this project?

The story of how Damien and I met is interesting. I had spoken about him two days earlier before we met. As luck had it, we happened to be staying in the same hotel where we bumped into each other.

You do not meet legends every day and so we took the chance to discuss music and working some tunes together. So, definitely when this project comes to fruition I will capitalise on it to keep growing and evolving as I expand my fan base. I’m here today because of my fans.

Looking at how far you have come, how would you sum up your evolution and growth as an artiste?

My dream as an African son was always to live a better life and make it as a musician. I came from nothing and thus Ojuelegba, to renowned star and I can’t take that for granted.

My fans believed me and helped me achieve my dreams. My growth has been gradual and to be here today, about to perform in one of the biggest concerts in the continent is iconic. There is no limit to what one can achieve. So don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. I’m taking it far and wide.

Your EP, Sounds From the Other Side is a masterpiece with intense collaborations with some of America’s best musicians. How did you penetrate this sphere?

Please allow me make it clear that I am not trying to break into the American music scene or begging any of the artistes I’ve worked with to be in my songs.

A lot of people think Wizkid is out there trying to break into America or any other country. I’m just doing my own thing and being me and that is why people come to me.

Whoever wants to make music with me is welcome and whoever doesn’t it’s still fine. I have been doing shows in America for close to four or five years now. I’m just here to please my fans.

So how did you get in contact with Drake, Ty Dollar $ign, C Breezy and other American superstars?

Drake approached me. I didn’t go to him begging to record a song. They came across my song Ojuelegba, which Skepta played to him and he was pleased.

He showed interest in working with me after listening to my music and Skepta connected us. We met and it was organic. He then featured in the remix of my said song, then we did One Dance and the latest hit, Come Closer.

I can’t wait for tonight. Ty and I go way back and people would be surprised how much work we’ve done together. Watch out for our music. As for Chris, you know he came to my country and we met in Lagos.

Your style is incredibly awe-spiring. What is the secret to looking as good as you do?

I have been true to myself since the day I came into the industry. I have had my own sense of style for as long as I can recall. It has been evolving throughout the years.

I am doing me and perhaps that’s the unique thing when you strive to find your own identity and build a brand. I wake up in the morning and put on whatever feels good to me. I always say dress the way you want to be addressed. Do not try to ape anyone.

What’s in the plans for the future?

A lot of music for my fans. Like I mentioned I have a lot of projects underway. I’ll be kicking it in the studio.

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