Ayodeji Balogun’s had the kind of year any Nigerian musician struggling to make it into the mainstream global market would call a perfect one. A year in which he was vital to helping create the biggest song on the planet in 2016 and being nominated for a Grammy long before anyone thought he was due, signing with RCA records and becoming the unofficial avatar of Nigerian Afro-pop. In 12 short months, Ayodeji Balogun went from part of a class of contemporaries to being bested only by himself. And if the events of 2017 are any indicator, Wizkid is determined to continue besting himself.
First he put out “Come Closer” featuring Drake but with him finally at the helm and steered it into becoming an international hit; necessary considering the backtalk that had swirled that his input on “One Dance” had been minimal. He followed with a handful of singles and international performances, the apex of which was headlining 2017’s Wireless Festival, the final spot before the promotion for Sounds From The Other Side, his debut mixtape under RCA began in earnest.
At this point, there is no genre that the Starboy hasn’t dabbled in. Afrobeats, Afropop, Hip-hop, R&B, Dancehall, even Hip-life; Wizkid has done them all, putting his voice and charisma to the test and coming through for his fans. But on his debut LP under international label RCA records, Wizkid has had to reach into places otherwise unexplored and push even further. South African House seemed the next natural progression for several reasons. Artists like Yemi Alade helped championed a new model for albums that reference all the major music hubs on the continent and a major part of RCA’s push will be in South Africa, where an established music distribution network will greatly ease his entry into their market/industry. SA House singer Bucie, also an entry point for Yemi Alade, lends her svelte vocal work and ineffable charm to “All For Love”.
It is an excellent duet, marrying their very distinct styles and paying homage to the House scene. The song’s horns remind of Afrobeat and Wizkid is more earnest than we’ve seen him in years, spurred to keep up with Bucie’s almost effortless delivery. It almost makes us wish Wizkid would properly explore House on an EP or at least a few more songs.
Wizkid is bent on world domination, but first he’ll take South Africa.
Listen to “All for love”.
Edwin eats his rice and cabbages. Tweet at him @edgothboy