Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun popularly known as Wizkid is a reporter's delight any day. He may not be your every day artiste, but if your are privileged to encounter him, it would probably take you a long time to erase the sweet memory of that chance-meeting with the superstar. That's the experience our reporter recently had , meeting the superstar. It was the first interview he was granting to any national daily in a long time.
Wizkid spoke like he had never done before, and this one interview will serve as a reference point
He's one of the music heavyweights in Africa who is still making waves across the world. The Afrobeat singer,had his major break in 2009, after releasing a couple of albums, and since then, he has not looked back in his quest to conquer the world with his music. He was once named one of the richest musicians in Africa by Forbes. He became the first ever Nigerian musician to have over 1 million followers on Twitter. Enjoy this interview from Abuja where he was unveiled as Brand Ambassador, United Bank for Africa, UBA at a colourful event at Transcorp Hilton.
Are you a big spender while on holiday?
I am very conservative with money.
What's your assessment of the Nigerian music industry?
First, I would like to say that when we started the music business, I never really thought we would make the hits we are making right now. Things have changed immensely in the last couple of years. Right now, the social media is one of the biggest platforms that have helped musicians to get across to the world generally.
What was your goal when you started out as a musician?
It has always been my goal when I started making music to try as much as possible to touch people's lives in many ways. It is easy to spot a kid; sign one, two or three artistes. But there are a million kids out there across Africa with a lot of talent. It has been my goal to groom a talent from every African country which is why we are partnering with UBA to set up a new platform that would enable us to go out in search of talents that will later become global superstars.
What do you define as success?
Success for me is not the amount of money you have. It is not the amount of property you have acquired. Success is about the number of lives you are able to touch while you're succeeding in your career. Success is making sure that every African child out there has an opportunity to actually get ahead in life. Success, for me, is touching people's lives.
What's going on with your Starboy brand?
I started my brand, Starboy, because I wanted it to represent the whole of Africa. I have a festival that I started which is 'Starboy Fest'. It held in London last year. We're about to do it again this year. We're taking it to France, Amsterdam, and bringing it back home to Nigeria.
So, are you successful?
I wake up every morning wanting more. So, I don't even feel like I have accomplished anything yet. I have not done anything at all. I have not built schools around Africa; which is one of my biggest dreams, to help kids. There are a whole lot of things happening around the world. There's poverty around the world. I will definitely like to do more. I don't think I am successful yet, to be frank.
Back in time, at what point did you make your first big money as an artiste?
I can never forget. The first big money I ever collected was N250,000; I was so excited. I remember that after I touched that money, I told my partner at that time; 'Bro, we started this music hustle with nothing, now we are able to make N250,000. If we are able to really make this kind of money, I think we can touch a million US Dollars'. I am happy to say that, today, we are getting more than one million US Dollars.
How did you spend the N250,000?
I don't remember what I bought with the money in the first place. But I definitely know that I took some money back home to my mother. That's one of the first things I did.
How do you make sure you don't spend reckless?
I think that in my generation a lot of kids are not financially literate. I started touching a lot of money when I was 19. I learnt back then that, as a young boy, you're are bound to spend money on things you don't need. But I also learnt to know what was important and deserved to be spent money on. Over the years, I have been able to become smarter with my money. I learnt to sort the things I don't need from the things that are important. Basically, I learnt to spend money on things that will keep me here for a real long time.
What would you say differentiates Ayo Balogun from Wizkid?
There's not a lot of difference from both characters. I wake up every day as Wizkid and Ayo Balogun. I think Ayo is a more private person. I like to spend a lot of time by myself a lot, while Wizkid is Wizkid. It's amazing just waking up every day and knowing that there are over a million kids out there, in Africa, everyday who are looking up to you.
As Wizkid, what is your proudest moment?
What makes me happy, as Wizkid, is seeing my parents smile. Every time I see my father and my mother happy, it brings joy to my heart.
What do you do every day as Wizkid?
When I wake up every day, I say my little prayer, give God the glory, and get to work.
What's the best piece of advice you've received in your career?
As a human being every day you wake up is a learning period. You never know it all. So, I think the greatest advice I have received is to never stop working and to be smart with my investment and my money. I still learn every day.
What are the challenges you face currently as a musicpreneur?
One of the biggest challenges I face is piracy. When our works get pirated, we don't make as much money as we are supposed to make from album sales. In the past five or seven years, the Nigerian entertainment industry has been able to grow immensely just by itself without no government funding and support. It's not easy to grow with just talent and vision. It's not easy running a record label in this country without government funding and support. It is also okay for more corporate brands to step in and support the artistes.
What's the best song you have made?
That's a tough question. I don't think I have made it yet. I don't think I have made my best song yet. As long as I am still alive and breathing, I will keep making music. So, my best music is yet to come.
You're now a brand Ambassador for UBA. What's the partnership between Starboy and the bank about?
In the partnership between Starboy and UBA, what we are trying to do is to not just sell music but we are also trying to take Nigerian and African music to the world generally.
How are you trying to use music to curtail crime in the society like internet fraud as well as correct absurdities like skin bleaching etc.?
We just released a song recently with Beyoncé which glorifies the essence of you being black, embracing your skin, and loving who you are. It's also very important to understand that when you're talking about crime in this country, it's a deeper conversation than just making music and using it to insult the 'Yahoo Yahoo' boys or the government. I wouldn't want to be that kind of a person. I feel like the kind of person that I'd like to be is to lead by example. I would like to show the kids, out there, that they can make it from nothing. I told you earlier how I made N250,000 when I started and now we are here discussing amazing numbers. If all I can do is continuing to being successful and touching as many lives as I can; hoping that every kid out there looks at these and emulate them, that will be great
. We are not going to change anything by singing a song about 'Yahoo Yahoo' boys. We will do a lot better by inspiring kids, and showing them there is a lot of hope.
We all have a role to play in crime fighting and reduction. You also have a role to play. Just continue being a good example to your neighbor or the next person. Rome wasn't built in a day. So, kids will keep learning from that. All you have to do is just lead by example.