Wizkid Sells Out at Albert Hall

The venue is alight with cameraphones, while to Wizkid’s left, admirers try to clamber up to touch him. Behind the stage, a normally cordoned-off balcony has been opened to accommodate an overspill of fans. Meanwhile, UK-born Nigerians Skepta and Tinie Tempah are here, unofficially representing the western stars – Drake, French Montana, Ty Dolla $ign, et al – with whom Wizkid has collaborated.
Right now, Ayodeji Balogun, as he’s otherwise known, is squarely at the nexus of Afropop, reggae, bashment, dancehall and Latin music. Packaged together with his sweet, reedy voice and steely self-belief, the whole thing feels like a guidepost to where pop is heading. His feature on Drake’s One Dance opened the door for his success outside Africa and made him a Sony Records priority, but it’s likely he would have got there even without the patronage. Wizkid is a new kind of star, steeped in not just horn- and bass-heavy Lagos pop (cracklingly played tonight by his hometown band), but also the global sounds of the diaspora. The opening Sweet Love, from his new album Sounds from the Other Side, for example, is an Afropop/reggaeton livener sung in a mashup of Yoruba and Nigerian pidgin. A little later, Love My Baby – introduced as “a classic Wizkid song”, a phrase he repeats before almost every song – lollops along in an R&B/Afrobeats groove.

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