The details of Wizkid’s ‘groundbreaking’ record deal with Sony are still sketchy. But industry experts who have followed the Starboy’s exploits have indicated some of the perks that will come with his deal. In the last few months, the singer has become an even bigger international sensation and there are no doubts that his deal Sony will finally seal his place in global music. Earlier yesterday, NotJustOk reported that Wizzy will be getting a seven-figure advance on his deal. Even by ideal international standards, this is a really good offer. And considering its marketing and promotional contractual clauses, Wizkid may be one of the few Nigerians actually having a good 2016.
Though this development strategically puts Wizkid in a place where only a few have been, where things go from here is still unpredictable. Wizkid will not only be moving to a new market, he will be facing a new dynamics in markets where his sound is just gaining prominence. Sony may be giving him a silver platter but this just means now there will be higher stakes, higher expectations and new responsibilities for Wizkid to deal with as an artist and a brand.
His first challenge will be having to juggle universal themes and originality for his sound. Make no mistake, we are not unaware of the Wizkid’s distinctive voice. Or his ability to create nearly unforgettable melodies like any pop star worth their mettle. However, as a bred and buttered Nigerian artist, he is prone to a certain kind of music style. With a larger audience on his horizon, his music will require a sound shift to accommodate new fans while managing to retain all the authenticity that made him appeal to old fans in the first place.
Alongside Shabba, his first official single of the year, Wizkid’s recent attempts at gaining international fans with covers of global summer hits have been received with mostly mixed reactions. This may be unconnected to the sudden shift towards a Carribean and American trap music sound respectively, but let’s be honest, neither was a Wizkid sound anyone was familiar with. Besides, an overhaul of his sound with genres that already exist in the global market will only put him in competition with artists who originally own the music, which may not be at all bad if he were white, Drake or Kanye West. But he’s not, so It’s counterproductive instead.
With this Sony deal, Wizkid has his work cut out for him. This next phase of his career will require him to improve songwriting for universality, sharpen his neo-Afrobeat sound, and carve a commercially viable style of music out of that balance. It may be too early to determine if Wizkid is will be walking a tightrope by signing this deal, but one thing is certain, the people whose monies are going into his career are going to want results and Wizkid like we have never seen him (or anyone) before. One cannot but wonder if Wizkid has what it takes to go the extra mile and even further because the journey from here is longer about getting to the top (he’s already there anyway), it’s about staying there.