How Wizkid’s debut album ‘Superstar’ inspired a generation

On this week’s Afrobeats throwback, we will be celebrating the 13th anniversary of Wizkid’s classic debut and how it inspired a generation.

Before the release of his debut album ‘Superstar’, Wizkid gave listeners a peek into his talent with the charming new school Afropop record ‘Holla At Your Boy’. The song instantly attracted the attention of a generation of teenage listeners born in the mid-90s and eagerly craving for an artist they could connect to.

Wizkid’s boyish look and new school sound were perfectly captured through the Patrick Elis-directed music video for ‘Holla At Your Boy’.

In the video set in a High School, Wizkid embodied the swag of a new generation. He rocked a pair of pencil jeans and a cool T-shirt with a rosary hanging over his neck. He wore cool sneakers and a fly P-cap. He had a cool bicycle, hung out with a cool squad, and dated the prettiest girl in school. Everything Wizkid embodied in the music video was the definition of what it means to be cool to a generation of teenage Nigerian listeners who were coming of age and would form the core part of his legion of fans.

Before Wizkid’s entrance, Nigerian mainstream music had seen several stars some of which altered the soundscape. The seminal talent Wande Coal released his debut album ‘Mushin 2 Mohits’ in 2009 and the project would form the blueprint for several artists including Wizkid.

Wizkid’s entrance with ‘Superstar’ redefined the soundscape of Nigerian pop music by delivering exciting Afropop records that thrived on cultural familiarity and embraced a more contemporary and excitingly youthful melody, writing, and delivery.

Together with a collection of producers led by the era-defining Samklef, Wizkid curated a modern and refreshingly youthful take on Nigerian pop music that redefined the scene and rocketed him to superstardom.

With hit records like ‘Tease Me’, the Fuji-inspired ‘Pakurumo’ for which he assembled a star-studded lineup for the music video, the heartwarming ‘Gidi Girl’, the youthful anthemic hip hop-infused ‘Don’t Dull’, the positive proclamations on ‘Oluwa Lo Ni’, and the sweet melodies of ‘Love My Baby’, Wizkid created an album defined by the youthful cadences of a 20-year-old. It’s this striking relatability that won him the heart of a generation of listeners and the admiration and respect of an older audience.

For Wizkid, the 17-track superstar ‘Superstar’ album would set in motion everything he wanted to become – a superstar. While it’s almost customary for artists to have a gap between their debut and their ascension to superstardom, Wizkid defiled the norm by going from rookie to music star.

Watching a 20-year-old Wizkid dazzle the country with his music and become the true definition of a young superstar inspired a generation of teenagers to aspire to become like him.

Sonically, the Afropop sound of ‘Superstar’ will shape the talent of a young generation of artists whose style and approach are heavily influenced by Wizkid’s melodies and flows.

Since Wizkid released ‘Superstar’, the Nigerian music industry has seen the entrance of young artists with more labels willing to take a chance on teenage talents.

Nigerian music stars including Omah Lay and Rema are notable talents whose entrance into the mainstream was reminiscent of Wizkid’s 2011 debut album. South African breakout global sensation Tyla also credited Wizkid as one of her major influences.

13 years after its release, a straight line can be drawn from the current Afropop sonic framework to Wizkid’s debut album ‘Superstar’.

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