The late King of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti, has been universally revered since his death in 1997. Today, twenty years after Fela’s passing, afrobeats stands poised to take over the world, and the man who just might steward its ascension is a 26-year-old Nigerian named Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun—better known as Wizkid.
A major luminary on the Nigerian scene since his aptly titled 2011 debut, Superstar, Wizkid has gradually delivered a trail of hits across the map, working with artists in South Africa (Dj Maphorisa, DJ Buckz), the UK (Skepta, Tinie Tempah), and the US (Kranium, Wale). However, it is his recent alliances with Drake that have ensconced him firmly on US playlists: his chartbusting collaboration with the Toronto-born MC, “One Dance” — the song of summer 2016 — recently scored three Billboard awards. Meanwhile, the Drake-featuring “Come Closer,” Wizkid’s first single from his upcoming mixtape Sounds from the Other Side is gathering heat. To fans back in Nigeria, it seems Wizkid is about to expand on what Fela did and take his sound into the mainstream.