The problem with long waits in large crowds is that you can’t control the conversations around you: you don’t mean to ear hustle but the proximity you find yourself in subjects you to the nonsense. Case in point, 45 minutes has passed, and the VIP/Press list has crawled to a complete stop. Surprised by the crowd, the dude directly in front of me turns to a colleague and utters, “Wow, look at what a hit record can do!” I ask myself, A hit record? Does he mean 1? If that is the implication that hit record is arguably, and it might be a quick dispute, THE record of the year at the most and a definitive song of the summer in the very least. Clearly, he ain’t been schooled prior to his arrival, but the boy Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, aka Wizzy, aka Big Wiz, aka Starboy been hot. In fact, some would say that even if the smash single “Essence” wasn’t in his arsenal the packed, packed, packed Lena Horne Bandshell at Prospect Park would only have been packed, packed!
It was a self-fulling prophecy of sorts as back in 2017 while in promotion of the then-new mixtape entitled ‘Sounds from The Other Side’ Wizkid in an interview with DJ Self on Power 105 said, “I’m very open-minded when it comes to my music, and I believe in tapping into different types of music to find inspiration but not dilute my sound. I collaborate when I can but I’m making my music and catching my real vibes.” That formula of blending pieces of soul, hip hop, and gospel rooted in Afrobeat has led to a leaps and bounds success in terms of career advancement and has the likes of Rihanna, H.E.R, Damian Marley, Angélique Kidjo, Chris Brown, Ty Dolla Sign, Trey Songz on his resume of artists that he’s shared a creative space with. His explosion on to the scene came through his guest feature on Drake’s Afrobeats-infused “One Dance” single, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and remained in that slot for 10 non-consecutive weeks, while also topping the charts in 15 different countries, globally.
That was followed with an even bigger record, a pairing with Beyoncé, Blue Ivy and SAINt JHN called “Brown Skin Girl” which added more hardware to his collection Sunday passed as it won the Best Cinematography category in the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards. This adds to his first Grammy Award in two Soul Train Music Awards, a BET Awards, and a NAACP Image Award for the same title.
A hit, as in singular, huh? Beg to differ. That’s why every hue on the African diaspora menu, including celebrity types like Swizz Beatz, Kehlani, Winnie Harlow, Jidenna, Victor Cruz and Vic Mensa shoehorned into Prospect Park to see Wizkid deliver the goods in the NY leg of his national tour in support of the album “Made in Lagos.” The crowd rocked out under the stars to titles like “Mighty Wine,” “Soco,” “Show Me The Money,” “Ginger,” his global breakthrough track “Ojuelegba” and an interlude of the Fugees rendition of “Killing Me Softly” that flowed into “Blessed.” He found time to acknowledge and honor of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, to pay his respect to the people who lost their lives at the World Trade Center. He ended a moment of silence with, “I hope their souls rest in peace.” The night concluded with THAT song, “Essence.” While featured artist Tems, deliverer of the hook and bridge of the year was not in attendance the thousands on hand were more than willing to deliver “You don’t need no other body
“You don’t need no other body
“Only you fi hold my body
“Only you fi hold my body
“You don’t need no other body”
The BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival has been delivering big time this summer but will conclude on Sept. 18th with TROMBONE SHORTY bringing this historic season to an explosive conclusion with his notorious brass funk band Orleans Avenue. The night begins with the buoyant grooves and plush harmonies of NYC’s own MICHELLE.
Over and out. Holla next week. Til then, enjoy the nightlife!