Take it or leave it, Ayo Balogun, aka Wizkid, is one of the household names in the Nigerian music industry. With just two albums to his credit, this talented singer and multiple brand ambassador has proven to his fans that he is born to do music. In this interview, he talks about this year’s Hennessy Artistry and other personal issues. Excerpts:
How would you describe the experience being on Hennessy Artistry tour 2014?
I feel really blessed to be a part of this year’s Hennessy Artistry tour, especially because 2Face is also a part of it. 2Face is a legend in the Nigeria music industry. He is like a pioneer. He paved the way for every young artiste doing it right now. So I feel really blessed doing it with him. Hennessy is a big brand and Wizkid brand too is big.
How will you describe Hennessy as a brand in Nigeria?
Hennessy is one of the biggest and most popular brands in the country and everybody drinks it. They have a very strong brand here. They have tried as much as possible to create a platform that brings artistes together, like Hennessy Artistry, which I am part of this year. This kind of platform helps bring artiste closer to their fans. I am very happy to be associated with the brand.
When you were told that you were going to play along with 2Face, how did you feel?
2Face and I have actually been on the studio for about four times before the Hennessy company contacted us for the event. But the funny thing is that we have not been able to finish a track together all this while we have been meeting in the studio. 2Face is a very busy person and I am always on the road too. This is actually the first time we are getting into the studio to finish one track. So, as you can see, it is a great thing.
Was there any conscious effort by you to build the brand Wizkid and what did it take?
Of course, building the Wizkid brand took me all my life. Because before I went into doing music, I had what I wanted to be in my head. I knew how I wanted my journey to be like. I definitely knew I wanted to build a brand, not just a name or music.
Do you worry about falling from being an A-list artiste?
Yes, I do. That is why I work tirelessly and endlessly to maintain where I am. I work every day and night to make sure that the brand is here even when I am not here. I want to leave a legacy that people will follow. I am not just building Wizkid, I am also building Star Boy. I am also building a brand that can help every young artiste or producer out there. I just want to create a platform that will help them push out what they have.
What is the most challenging song that you have ever written?
I would say that when I made Jaye Jaye, I did not know that people were ready to accept the song. I needed to make it very special because that song was very special to me. When I called Femi Kuti, he told me immediately that he was going to do it. I was shocked. I never thought he would accept it right away. I called him today and we recorded the song the next day. So, I think Jaye Jaye is very special to me.
How would you describe your new album and what has been the reaction of people to it ?
I would say that everybody loves the album. Every day, people discover a new song in the album. I feel really good because when I was making the album, I was conscious not to change my style too much. I know people expect me to change my style because I worked with international artistes, but I am not going to change my music for anyone.
In the album, one of your tracks was a highlife kind of music. How were you able to do that considering your kind of music?
Like I said, I work endlessly everyday to build the Wizkid brand to make sure that the brand does not die and I do not make music for now. A lot of people think today’s artistes make music for only party and all, but I really do not make such music. I try as much as possible to pass a message across. Like in one of my songs, Joy, I was talking about my life and I was also giving advice to everyone out there to learn from my life. The same thing with Jaye Jaye and Ojuelegba. Songs like that are good. I am not just an average musician. I am very confident in the kind of music that I make. I know it will go global.
Why did you choose Ojuelegba for Show your money when you have Ojuelegba as one of the tracks in the album?
In Show your money, I went to Shita, Surulere, Lagos, Small London to shoot the video because it is the area I grew up. I just want to take the music to where I grew up. You know there are several areas in Surulere. In the track Ojuelegba, I will be going to Ojuelegba to shoot the video. There are so many parts of Surulere that I have not even started talking about. All the streets that I used to walk and perform. Because I used to perform in all the carnival in those days at Surulere free of charge. I paid my dues. There are so many stories to be told. And by God’s grace, if I am here long enough, I am ready to tell all those stories through my music.
Is there any plan for a collabo with your former label mate, Skales?
Yes there is. He was actually in my house a couple of weeks ago and he brought a single for us to work on. So, definitely, I will always work with Skales.
What about the track, Mummy mi? Are you going to shoot the video as well?
Yes of course, I am going to shoot the video with my mum. I am taking her on a trip.
What is going on between you and Samklef? Is Wizkid an arrogant person?
I do not know what they are talking about. When people say that you are terrible, the fact is you can actually go and ask those people what exactly did this guy do that made him terrible. I used to make music with Samklef and everyone knows that for the four years that I made music with Samklef, I always say: “Samklef noni”. So, I am really just being me. I am trying to be a good person. Everybody cannot like you and everybody cannot hate you as well. I didn’t change. The only thing that changed about me is that I just added some accessories that’s all. I did not grow tall. I’m still the same height. Just good cloths and accessories are the things that changed about me.
How much do you charge for a collabo?
I do not charge people I love for a collabo, but when somebody is on my neck, I can charge like N10 million for it.