Boys and girls, we are now in the second decade of Wizkid. The prince of Afropop celebrates his 29th birthday today. In the past decade, he’s built a legacy as one of Nigeria’s most iconic musicians of his generation.

Wizkid’s 29th comes as he’s gearing up to release his long-teased album, “Made In Lagos”. He’s broken more promises about the album’s details than an ‘industry guy’ trying to impress a reporter. But if all goes as planned, it’s expected to usher Wizkid, already Afropop’s biggest ambassador in the last few years, to legendary status.

We’re stoked because while his singles are seminal hits, Wizkid’s albums typically hide deep cuts that listen just as well. Before his next stab at greatness comes, here’s a list of songs and reasons to revisit his old work.

  • Wizkid – “Celebrate

Wizkid’s Celebrate is owambe music for young professionals born in the early 1990s. Celebrate is tucked away in the middle of his second studio album, “Ayo” which is coincidentally dotted with deep cuts. “Ojuelegba” may evoke Wizkid’s Lagos origins, but on “Celebrate”, Wizkid sounds like a modern-day King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall.

This may well be the song that made me fall in love with producer Spellz. The drums here are like a festival; the title couldn’t be more fitting.

  • Wizkid – “All For Love” w/ Bucie

Over the years, Wizkid’s found a nice pocket in South African House Music. On his attempt at creating a global manifesto for his sound, “Sounds From The Other Side”, he tapped one of the absolute jewels of that scene in Bucie.

Wizkid’s third album “Sounds From The Other Side” featured a wide range of collaborations

“All For Love” is great partly because Wizkid surrenders the reins to Bucie. It sounds more left-field and evergreen than most of Wizkid’s work. Which is fitting for a song that was made four years before it came out.

  • EME – “Body” w/ Wizkid

In 2012, Wizkid was Nigeria’s most wanted, on the shores of the UK, and enjoying a run that lasted two more years. The label he called home at the time, Empire Mates Entertainment, was also enjoying a great time.

At its height, EME was home to Banky W, Wizkid, Skales, DJ Xclusive, Shaydee and Niyola.

A collaboration project was the right way to freeze all that energy in time. Wizkid flexed his chords on most of these songs but on “Body”, he reverts to vintage Wizkid. At some point, he even sings “the boys tell me what they want they want to hear me freestyle,” and the song sounds like that’s exactly what he did.

  • Wizkid – “Mummy Mi

Wizkid wears his love for his mum on his sleeve. He repeatedly makes heartfelt prayers for her, most notably on the second verse of “Ojuelegba”. Wizkid explains, as best as he can, his love for his mother and promises to be there forever.

While songs of affection tend to take a more sombre note, “Mummy Mi” is traditional Nigerian pop influenced by juju drums courtesy of producer, Spellz and Wizkid’s adlibs. The lyrics are nothing but thanks, over and over again. Wizkid’s mum would be proud.

  • Wizkid – “No Lele

When an upstart changes everything as Wizkid did, you can’t blame them for getting autobiographical. After weathering the initial heavy expectations, Wizkid chose the second song off his debut album to tell everyone where he was coming from.

Considering how far he’s come, you can’t say he got ahead of himself

That “Ojuelegba, Shitta” are the opening words tell you everything you need to know. The man may be turning 29 as an urban pop icon but this is a fresh reminder of where his journey began and just how much self-belief got him here.

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