Big hits, crazed fans and star power are the makings of a rock star — and Wizkid has all of them. Fresh after the Recording Academy revealed that they were considering adding an Afrobeat category to next year’s Grammys ceremony, the Nigerian singer-songwriter is further cementing why the genre is trailblazing a lane all of its own.
On Nov. 16, Wizkid brought his signature flair to New York, becoming only the second Nigerian artist to headline and sell out the famed Madison Square Garden. With a new album (“More Love, Less Ego”) and a career defining hit (“Essence” featuring Tems) under his belt since his last New York concert, the London-based artist seemingly had all of the chess pieces in place to create a memorable night.
DJ Tunez — Wizkid’s longtime producer and touring DJ — opened the night by playing a set jam-packed with Afrobeat classics, Top 40 hits and an array of hip-hop and R&B songs honoring the sound of New York City. Tunez set a strong tone for the night, as the already packed arena was activated and dancing long before Wiz hit the stage.
This energy created the perfect momentum for Wizkid to take the stage. He opened with his breakthrough single “Ojuelegba,” backed by an urban choir and full band. Donning an all-black sequined set paired with a black fur coat, Wiz slowly crept around the stage until the tempo ramped up, and the Garden started bouncing.
The setlist was curated to take the audience on a sonic journey throughout Wizkid’s career, while sprinkling in new vibes from his new album. While many of hits feature other talented artists, Wiz decided to perform without special guests, singing and rapping the parts typically performed by his counterparts.
The crowd went wild when Wizkid performed “Come Closer,” from his major label debut “Sounds from the Other Side,” and rapped Drake’s lines with ease. A shirtless Wiz then transitioned into “True Love” when a fan unexpectedly jumped onstage and attempted to make contact with the artist. The fan was kneeling and shaking, and, with no security in sight, Wiz confusedly and gently pushed the fan offstage while maintaining his cool and staying on key.
As the show began to wind down, Wizkid performed an extended version of “Essence,” adding new chords and new harmonies, paired with call and response interactions with the audience. After the arena went dark, he returned to do an encore of the opening song “Ojuelegba” before thanking the audience.