“It’s the people ‘stanning’ Wizkid that I blame. Have you ever heard Drake say he doesn’t want to perform in Canada ever again?”, a music fan muttered when I asked music fans what they thought about Starboy’s declaration of his last-ever show in Lagos.
Despite — and perhaps because of — his immense achievements and accolades, Wizkid’s decision to never perform in Lagos, which is not only the city he was born and bred, but also the city he rose to the global limelight, is less delusional than it is overbearing. Although the man has paid his dues: one of the most influential figures in Nigerian music with a host of awards including the Grammy, sold-out concerts, five studio albums, and chart-topping and trail-blazing songs. They say “let sleeping dogs lie” but Machala has also amassed a most loyal fan base who are sleepless and never actually need to lie — he lives in their passion, they plot for him and they pick fights with outliers.
Wizkid’s venture into the limelight began on the streets of Lagos. Born on July 16, 1990, Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun grew up in an interfaith household in Surulere, Lagos State. Wizkid attended Ijebu Ode Grammar School and landed his first label contract with Empire Mates Music in 2009 while hobnobbing with the industry’s great and good — in Lagos, of course. And the singer has not failed to show his admiration for the bustling city that forged his Bildungsroman with songs like ‘Ojuelegba’ and his penultimate album Made in Lagos.
Ironically enough, however, while absolutely not at the peak of his powers yet, the superstar has declared to renege — or so it seems — the oak that figured his acorn, contracting to the global stage and stretching further farther away from the homeland.
Could this be a strategy to beat the drum for his beach concert? Artistes, even those who don’t need to sound their trumpets to rack in numbers, have been known to employ unique marketing plans to publicise their craft. Drake and 21 Savage’s fake Vogue magazine campaign is a recent example of such ingenious music promotion.
Or, does Machala mean to say he won’t perform in Lagos again for the rest of the year? Though I beg to differ. “Last time I ever”, even for someone who communicates best in music, is not a linguistic misdemeanour. It’s rather a linguistic intentionality; said because it was thought about. “Last time ever” means final round, last take and c’est fini!
The megastar has no doubt had a great run of performances, especially away from the home front. Though his shows in Nigeria have been few and far between in recent times, and have simultaneously diminished. His December 2021 Live Concert in Abuja, where fans were treated to a less than impressive night, is credence.
Mietei Ikoli, who was at the Abuja Concert Live, captured the situation in her thread of tweets published on Netng in December 2021.
“Wizkid: As we all know, Wizkid did not perform until 3 in the morning”, Ikoli said.
“People of Nigeria, we need to start treating artistes’ performances like products. We should not support people that do not respect our time and hard-earned money. We need to take our power back. Imagine if he came at 3 am, and no one was there. It would have shocked him. Yes, I am angry. I paid N35,000 for that ticket. I could have used it for a myriad of things.”
Meanwhile, music lovers and fans continue to weigh in on Big Wiz’s decision. While some believe it’s a PR stunt, others believe he’s allowed to call the shots on his music career.
“To me, this is just a way of marketing his show — and that’s fine”, hinted Anita.
“I think it’s too early, he still has a lot of things to offer. He has a long way to go”, said Okechukwu Mogbo.
“Nigeria does not deserve him. They insult and underrate his art. People outside the country love and cherish him more so he should go”, a stan offered.
“Wizkid fans are not only in Nigeria and obviously not only in Lagos. Who told you I can’t travel to wherever Wizkid is if I have the money? Don’t underestimate FC”, another fan said.
Fortunately for Wizkid FC, the digital ascendancy has brought music consumers closer to their creators through music streaming platforms. But unfortunately, it will no more be statistically possible for those at home, in their numbers, to touch the hem of Wizkid’s Gucci garment. The More Love, Less Ego chanteur is the trinity: once the son, now the father, and looking to become the god who, as satirist George Orwell would probably say, would sacrifice his people for the love of himself on the cross of foreign lands.
Then, Wizkid is far from the ultimate saviour, even for show promoters.
“I don’t think it will affect anything because we have a whole lot of impressive artistes out of Nigeria even though Wizkid is an icon,” said Prince Temilade Adewuyi, an event promoter and security consultant in Lagos.
“Even with the fact that he’s been coming here, how many times has he performed in Nigeria recently? For me, Wizkid is Wizkid and Nigerian music will remain Nigerian music with thousands of artistes pushing the sound. American music, for example, can live without Jay Z and show promoters will still earn their money if he stops performing today, ” Adewuyi told Netng.
Journalist and show promoter, Dayo Showemimo, echoes Adewuyi’s stand. He told Netng that “booking Wizkid is expensive and irregular. There was a show he was supposed to do at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos since June, but the back and forth has been a lot.”
“For about three years now, his Nigerian performances have dwindled, unlike the other artistes that perform regularly. People will miss him, of course. There will be emotional reactions and moral reactions, but I doubt he will be overly missed. The show goes on,” Showemimo said.
Starboy’s run has been remarkable and laudable. Arguably more than anyone else, he has helped to put the country on the world map. But even Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan and 79-time Grammy award nominee Beyoncé still perform in their home countries while gripping the world firmly but maintaining a foothold in their motherland.
Wizkid belongs within the pages of Nigerian history books, and it would be far-fetched to say his name would demean because his ever-loyal fans would re-etch the thing when the inks of his legacies come to diminish. But the show must go on abroad and, if you please, Wiz, at home. This sound — your sound — is Made in Lagos.