Childhood & Early Life
Wizkid was born Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, on July 16, 1990, in Lagos, Nigeria. His family stays in Surulere, Lagos State, Nigeria. While his father is a Sunni Muslim, his mother is a Christian belonging to Pentecostal denomination.
His father has three wives. He has twelve female siblings and is the youngest child of his father. He is also the only male child of his father.
He completed his primary and secondary education at Surulere. He was interested in music from his early childhood but his family did not support him to pursue music as a full-time career.
He joined the choir in his church to pursue his passion for music and singing. Despite the opposition from his family, he started pursuing his music career at a very young age and released his first studio album at the age of 11, but this endeavour was not successful. He adopted the stage name, ‘Lil Prinz,’ and his first studio album carried this name instead of his original name in the credits.
After the failure of his first album, he decided to concentrate on his studies and completed his school education. After school, he joined the Lagos State University (LASU) in 2009, but dropped out as he was not able to focus on his studies. After dropping out from the LASU, his parents got him enrolled at the ‘Lead City University’, a private university in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. But he dropped out of this university too, after two sessions, as he was focusing more on his music career by now.
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According to him, his music career began from the day he joined his church choir. Artistes like Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade, 2 Face Idibia, and Sound Sultan were his early inspirations and inspired him to become a musician. He credits Nigerian rapper Naeto C with coaching and guiding him when he was 15 years old.
From 2001 till 2006, he performed as a solo artist with the stage name ‘Lil Prinz.’ He formed a band called ‘Glorious Five’ with his friends from the church choir. They managed to release one studio album before disbanding.
He met record producer OJB Jezreel during his struggling days and he became his mentor. He became a regular visitor at Jezreel’s studio watching and learning from the recordings by artists like 2 Face Idibia and Sound Sultan. Jezreel advised him to stop recording for a year and learn by watching experienced artists.
After dropping out from university in 2009, he inked a record deal with Empire Mates Entertainment (EME). In the same year, he started recording for his debut studio album with the stage name ‘Wizkid,’ which was titled ‘Superstar.’ On January 2, 2010, he released the lead single from the album titled ‘Holla at Your Boy’. On April 2, 2010, he released the second single, ‘Tease Me/Bad Guy,’ from the album and the third single, ‘Don’t Dull,’ was released on December 6, 2010. The entire album was released on June 12, 2011, under the EME label. The songs in the album were in English and Yoruba languages.
In 2012, he signed an endorsement deal with Pepsi, which was reportedly worth US $350,000. In the same year he started working for his second studio album, ‘Ayo.’ The album was initially titled ‘Chosen’ but was later changed to ‘Ayo.’ The lead single of the album titled ‘Jaiye Jaiye’ was released on May 2, 2013, and featured Nigerian musician Femi Kuti. The album was released on September 6, 2014. It features guest appearances from artistes like Femi Kuti, Banky W, Seyi Shay, Phyno, Tyga, Akon, and Wale.
On March 5, 2013, he announced his decision to establish his own record label, ‘Star Boy Entertainment.’ In the same year he signed endorsement deals with mobile network MTN and beer company Guiness.
On January 5, 2015, he released the music video of the song, ‘Ojuelegba,’ from his album ‘Ayo.’ The remix version of the song features guest vocals by Canadian rapper Drake, and English rapper Skepta. In April 2015, he collaborated and performed with American singer Chris Brown on a song titled ‘African Bad Gyal’ at Brown’s concert in Durban, South Africa. In May 2015, he released a song titled ‘Expensive Shit’ and also announced plans to release an EP.
In 2016, he provided guest vocals in Drake’s song ‘One Dance’ and was also involved in its writing and production. The song was a big hit and reached number one on the ‘Billboard US Hot 100’ chart on May 12, 2016. The song topped the charts in 15 countries making him Nigeria’s most successful pop artist. On June 5, 2016, he released the single ‘Like This’ on Drake’s OVO Radio. On July 14, 2017, he released his third album titled ‘Sounds from the Other Side’ on all digital platforms.
Awards & Achievements
He has received three Billboard Music Awards, a BET (Black Entertainment Television) Award, two MOBO (Music of Black Origin) awards, seven Headies Awards, four MTV Africa Music Awards, one MTV Europe Music Award, six Nigeria Entertainment Awards, two Channel O Music Awards, two Ghana Music Awards, two City People Entertainment Awards, and a Future Award.
A number of women have accused him of being father of their children, which he has denied, but some claims have been found to be true. In 2011, ‘Nigerian Entertainment Today,’ (NET) after a thorough investigation, reported in its 22nd August edition, that he fathered his first child at the age of 21 and the name of the mother was Sola Ogudugu who was a college undergraduate student at the time. He kept refuting the report for two years before accepting it in October 2013. In October 2013, he uploaded the picture of his two-year-old son, Boluwatife Balogun, on his Instagram account. He also has two other sons, Ayodeji Balogun and Zion Balogun, from two different women and has expressed his desire to father a daughter after having three sons. All of the mothers of his children were underage ‘baby mothers’ when they became pregnant with his children.