Meet Wizard Chan, the latest Headies ‘Best Alternative Song’ Winner
social justice meets spirituality
social justice meets spirituality
Yesterday, the winners of the 2023 Headies Awards were announced. Burna Boy, Rema, Ayra Starr, Victony and Black Sherif were among the winners from the 32-category list of nominees. This year’s Headies was the second time in a row that the mostly Nigerian-focused event was held outside Africa, at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Georgia, Atlanta, USA. Among the reactions that have trailed the winners list, as well as the general handling of the event, there is one artist whose success at the Headies deserves an appraisal: Wizard Chan.
Wizard Chan—born Maxwell James Fuayefika—was one of the uNder alum of January 2023. Chan’s music deserved is laced with fusion-pop songs and palpable Reggae influences. His track “Earth Song” notched two nominations in this year’s Headies for Songwriter of the Year and Best Alternative Song categories. In both categories, Chan, who debuted in 2020 with “Halo Halo,” was pitted against the likes of Omah Lay, Simi, Tems, BNXN, Burna Boy, Cruel Santino, Obongjayar and Flavour, among others. He lost the Songwriter of the Year category to Simi but won the Best Alternative Song category, which was open to the public for voting.
View this post on Instagram
Wizard Chan’s win is a testament to the loyal following he has amassed in a short while, but it is also a credit to the building blocks he has laid down in his career even before he got his breakthrough. Born and bred in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Wizard Chan began exploring his musical talent as a teenager while in secondary school, acquainting himself with the rudiments of becoming a recording artist with stories to tell. After moving to Ghana for his tertiary studies and then Sokoto State for the mandatory one-year national service, he settled in Lagos to map out his plans for his career.
In Lagos, he started a record label and company with his best friend, using the knowledge he gained from his Marketing and Business degree. “I discovered that getting a deal from a recording label is a lot and sometimes it might break you down. For that reason alone, I decided I was going to do my own thing with my friend. We put every single thing we had into music even though we didn’t know what we were doing because we didn’t have direction at first but I guess the best way to learn is to fail,” he shared in a recent interview.
Chan’s music, for the most part, is inspired by his life experiences as well as his obeisance to spirituality. His Reggae influences are the distinguishing factor he infuses into whatever sound he employs, sifting through for apt observations on people and life’s situations. On 2020’s “Truth,” Wizard Chan touches on the political and economic ills stagnating the progress of Nigeria. “The government are sleeping on the people they are serving/Commissioners and senators are living their lives lavish/Leaving little or none for the poor little masses,” he sings. It’s on “Earth Song,” though, that Wizard Chan strikes gold. Over Drill-influenced production, Wizard Chan explores the transient nature of life and how people’s actions can impact generation after generation. He revealed that the song emanated while he was “going through life” and that that is when he makes his best music.
“‘Earth Song’ is really special because I wrote that in one of my darkest times, you can hear the pain. I’m happy but not surprised because people are going through a lot emotionally and mentally without speaking up,” he told the NATIVE. Chan replicated the tale of surviving tough times on “HighLife,” which, as the song title suggests, pairs modern adjustments to the Highlife genre. He does the same on “Beast of No Nation” with King Perryy and Tuzi and “Que Sera Sera” with Dino Zee.
However, it isn’t only the hard times that Wizard Chan contemplates in his music. He finds joy and pleasure in love, romance and affection. On “Halo Halo,” Wizard Chan serenades a love interest; on “Yolo,” he and Mavice express their intentions for a lover, and he and Thousand Voice stir the softest feelings on “Miss You.” His love for experimentation also comes up on the Amapiano-led “DRUMLINE” with 01FRNCH. Wizard Chan’s musical influences include Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Jay Z, Damien Marley, Santi Sol and Black Sherif and it tells on his fusion of sounds.
With an album tentatively titled ‘The Messenger’ in the works, Wizard Chan’s win at the Headies is an indication of the authenticity of his music and its connection to the listeners. Beyond the music, his visual branding—the dark cloaks, cowry beads and fashion stylings from his Ijaw culture—accentuates the prominence of his craft. It’s the beginning of great success ahead for the Headies winner.
Featured image credit/NATIVE