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For The Record: How Wizkid Elevated Nigeria & Propelled The Ascent Of Afrobeats With His Star-Studded Album 'Made In Lagos'

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For The Record: How Wizkid Elevated Nigeria & Propelled The Ascent Of Afrobeats With His Star-Studded Album 'Made In Lagos'

A potent mix of Afrobeats and R&B, Wizkid's 2020 album 'Made in Lagos' further accelerated the already-unstoppable surge of Nigerian music throughout the world

GRAMMYs/Mar 24, 2022 - 07:52 pm

What binds artists as diverse as H.E.R., Burna Boy, Skepta, Ella Mai, Tay Iwar, Projexx, Tems, Damian Marley, and Terri? They all appeared on the breakout album by Wizkid, Made in Lagos.

In years past, it perhaps would have been unlikely for a Nigerian act to be the gravitational center for cross-genre luminaries — from reggae, from R&B, from grime. But these are the 2020s, and Afrobeats is colossal right now. And Wizkid is at the vanguard of this deluge of creative expression.

Outside of the music itself, the best part of the Afrobeats explosion is that it virtually never waters down its roots — it exists to elevate the continent that birthed it, and its community of forward-thinking music makers. That's what Wizkid highlighted while promoting his radiant fourth album, 2020's Made in Lagos.

"I'm unapologetically Nigerian, I'm unapologetically Lagosian," he told Vogue. "And when I say I'm here for my people, I mean it."

Thus, Wizkid encapsulated the essence of Made in Lagos, which shook the pop music firmament with tracks like "Smile" and "No Stress." His "Essence" received the royal treatment via a remix with Justin Bieber, and basically took over 2021 summer playlists. But the whole album overflows with pop riches. Featuring the most sumptuous elements of Afrobeats, R&B and Caribbean influences braided into one, Made in Lagos further established Wizkid as a global pop dynamo and helped hasten the rise of Afrobeats worldwide.

The album's ripple effect was keenly felt: At the 2022 GRAMMY Awards, which air Sunday, April 3, Wizkid is nominated in two categories: the newly debuted Best Global Music Performance ("Essence") and Best Global Music Album (Made in Lagos: Deluxe Edition). Several of his fellow nominees in those categories — Angélique Kidjo, Femi Kuti, Burna Boy — are African, which isn't lost on Wizkid.

Read More: 2022 GRAMMYs Awards Show: Complete Nominations List

"I'm African. I ride for that. And I live there. I grew up there. That's me," he told Rolling Stonein 2021 in a GRAMMY Preview interview. "If the world can pay attention to one artist from Africa, why can't they pay attention to all? That's the mentality I've got."

**After releasing his first two albums, 2011's Superstar and 2014's Ayo, on Nigerian label Ayo Mates (the latter was a co-release with his own label imprint, Starboy Entertainment), Wizkid made his stateside debut with 2017's Sounds from the Other Side. Despite sizable firepower and appearances from artists like Drake, Major Lazer and Ty Dolla $ign, it wasn't quite the commercial breakthrough it was designed to be. Undeterred, Wizkid decided to make another big swing — inspired by the city that made and shaped him.**

Granted, Wizkid had rhapsodized about Nigeria in song before. "Ojuelegba," a percolating, Yoruba-sung track from Ayo, was named after a Lagos neighborhood and explored Wizkid's experiences and growth against its backdrop. And his public gestures in solidarity with Nigeria go beyond music: Wizkid has joined the throng of young Nigerians in the #EndSARS protest against police brutality, even delaying new music in solidarity with the cause.

But it all comes back to Wizkid's artistry. And with such a rich vein of feeling and expression to mine, why not blow up the concept of hometown pride into an entire album?

From the opening moments of Made in Lagos, it's clear that Wizkid has consolidated his approach, honing his artistry to appeal across oceans and cultures. His lightly Auto-Tuned cadence on "Reckless" is intoxicating, gliding over a shifting rhythm and flecked with saxophone. "Got so many blessings, I dey count all night/ Yeah, starboy make a move, no man take my shine," he sings, seeming grateful for the gift of life.

On "Ginger," Wizkid teams up with Burna Boy, another member of Afrobeats aristocracy, to promise an all-night function, so you don't have to rush: "Say my party no dey stop til the daylight/ Before you run go dey shayo/ Make you think twice/ If na smoke you wan smoke say we dey tight." Other highlights include the acoustic-guitar-inflected "Piece of Me" — featuring English singer/songwriter Ella Mai — and the luxurious, hip-shaking "True Love," a platform for Nigerian performer Tay Iwar and Jamaican artist Projexx.

But the centerpiece is inarguably the steamy love ballad "Essence," featuring a commanding performance from rising Nigerian singer Tems. The song made big waves on its own, but the Bieber-assisted remix rocketed it to global recognition — even making history as the first-ever Nigerian song to hit the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at No. 9. Rolling Stone named "Essence" the best song of 2021, saying it "offered the best vision possible of our eternally shrinking world: at once local and global, intimate and universal."

As a whole, Made in Lagos was a spectacular success — not only did numerous American outlets deem it one of the best albums of 2021, but it debuted on the Spotify Global Album Chart and went on to shatter African streaming records. The Afrobeats scene continues to grow by the day — giants and emerging stars like Olamide, Davido and Joeboy are roaming the landscape. But really, Afrobeats isn't a competition, or a popularity contest — it's a common purpose.

With Made in Lagos, Wizkid didn't merely ask for a spotlight on him — because of its titanic success, the light shines ever brighter on the place that made him. These days, the tectonic plates of pop music have shifted to elevate Nigeria, rendering the country visible from all directions. Because of this conspicuousness, the global music community can band together to celebrate this national fount of musical brilliance. For that, we can all thank Wizkid.

Get To Know The First-Ever Best Global Music Performance Nominees | 2022 GRAMMYs

N.W.A Are 'Straight Outta Compton': For The Record

N.W.A's DJ Yella, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and MC Ren

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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N.W.A Are 'Straight Outta Compton': For The Record

What started as an attitude that helped put Compton on the map grew into a worldwide music revolution celebrating the streets

GRAMMYs/Jul 26, 2018 - 11:05 pm

A debut album that landed like a sledgehammer, 1988's Straight Outta Compton has become a legend in its own right. The featured N.W.A lineup was Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, and MC Ren. The album was produced by Dr. Dre and DJ Yella, and released on Ruthless Records, the label co-founded by Eazy-E and N.W.A manager Jerry Heller two years before.

Although it sold well initially, its landmark status rested on the controversies surrounding its gangsta lifestyle themes and attitudes. Its provocative tracks described the world N.W.A knew through their own eyes, including the title track, which elevated the group's hometown of Compton, Calif., "Express Yourself" and "Gangsta Gangsta." The album also included "F*** Tha Police," which resulted in the FBI and U.S. Secret Service sending threatening letters to Ruthless Records and the group's banishment from many venues.

Credited as one of the most influential hip-hop records of all time, in 2015, Straight Outta Compton the film appeared, dramatizing the 1988 impact of the album, with Ice Cube portrayed by his son O'Shea Jackson Jr. Confrontations with law enforcement and antagonism based on "F*** Tha Police" form a core element of both the 2015 drama as well as the drama on the streets that has never stopped.

Among the album's many aftermaths, Eazy-E died in 1995, Ice Cube went on to produce and star in his extensive filmography and the adventures of Dr. Dre touch on many other histories, including those of Eminem and Kendrick Lamar. Meanwhile, in recognition of its critical importance to music history, Straight Outta Compton was inducted into the Recording Academy's GRAMMY Hall Of Fame as well as the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry.

Catching Up On Music News Powered By The Recording Academy Just Got Easier. Have A Google Home Device? "Talk To GRAMMYs"

Everyone's A VIP At Clive Davis' Pre-GRAMMY Gala: From Travis Scott To Jimmy Jam To Brandi Carlile

Travis Scott

Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

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Everyone's A VIP At Clive Davis' Pre-GRAMMY Gala: From Travis Scott To Jimmy Jam To Brandi Carlile

Pass through the velvet rope at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles for an exclusive look at the star-studded 2019 Pre-GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons

GRAMMYs/Feb 11, 2019 - 12:27 am

On Feb. 9, on the eve of Music's Biggest Night, the 61st GRAMMY Awards, artists from across genres and decades gathered at the glitzy Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. for the 2019 Pre-GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons.

Less than 24 hours before the big red carpet walk today, the likes of current GRAMMY nominees Ella Mai, Dua Lipa, Diplo, Shaggy, Alice Cooper and Weird Al Yankovich, and GRAMMY winners Melissa Etheridge and Quincy Jones, brought their vibrant energy and killer looks at the annual celebration hosted by the Recording Academy and Clive Davis. Onlookers tried to spy the glam looks on the red carpet as they peered into the hotel's glass—we'll let you past the velvet rope and walk it with us as at this exclusive music industry event.

Dua Lipa & Ellie Goulding | Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images

This year's who's-who of music gala celebrated iconic industry veteran Clarence Avant, known as the Godfather Of Black Music, as the honoree of the evening. Like event host and fellow legend Davis, he helped launch the careers of many great artists, working with the likes of GRAMMY-winning greats Bill Withers, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis of The Time.

The video celebrating Avant had countless heroes such as Former President Barack Obama, Jones, Diddy and JAY-Z sharing how much they love Avant, the powerful impact he's made on their lives and music, and how he always knows the right thing to say. Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow introduced him with a fitting complement, and a huge one given the company they were in: "You're the ultimate music person." The Time properly brought the funk on stage to celebrate Avant with a performance of their '80s hits "The Bird" and "Jungle Love," dancing as if no time had passed.

Current GRAMMY nominee Travis Scott set the mood opening the evening's performances with "Goosebumps" and "Sicko Mode," while sisters and fellow nominees Chloe x Halle brought home a rousing cover of the late GRAMMY-winning Queen Of Soul Aretha Franklin's "Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves." Brandi Carlile, another current GRAMMY nominee, returned to the stage to join the duo, along with past nominee Valerie Simpson and Broadway star Keala Settle, ending the evening on quite the high note.

Chloe x Halle | Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

Other musical guests for the evening included current nominees Bebe Rexha, Florida Georgia Line and H.E.R., along with past nominees Jazmine Sullivan and Ledisi, plus GRAMMY winner Rob Thomas. Sullivan and Thomas offered a powerful duet, belting out Aretha and George Michael's "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)."

As the evening rolled on, Davis made sure to highlight all the countless legends in the room, as the crowd continuously burst into applause and often up on their feet to celebrate the likes of music greats Barbara Streisand, George Clinton and Dionne Warwick, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Apple's Tim Cook and even former-L.A. Lakers star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Don't forget to tune in to the 2019 GRAMMYs live from Staples Center today. Start with the GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony at 12:30 p.m. PST/3:30 ET, then follow us to the red carpet at 2:00 p.m. PST/5:00 p.m. ET—both will be live streamed right here on right here on GRAMMY.com.

Then the moment you've all been waiting for, the 61st GRAMMY Awards, hosted by 15-time GRAMMY winner Alicia Keys, will air live at 5:00 p.m. PST/8:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. CT on CBS.

GRAMMY Nominees In Their Own Words: Brandi Carlile, H.E.R., Shawn Mendes, Janelle Monaé & More

Burna Boy Wins Best Global Music Album For 'Twice As Tall' | 2021 GRAMMY Awards Show

Burna Boy accepts his 2021 GRAMMY

Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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Burna Boy Wins Best Global Music Album For 'Twice As Tall' | 2021 GRAMMY Awards Show

The Nigerian powerhouse Burna Boy takes home Best Global Music Album at the 2021 GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony

GRAMMYs/Mar 15, 2021 - 12:28 am

Burna Boy won Best Global Music Album for Twice As Tall at the Premiere Ceremony of the 63rd GRAMMY Awards. This marks his first career GRAMMY win. They are the first winner of the recently renamed category, formerly known as Best World Music Album. Watch his heart-warming acceptance speech below, given in English and Yoruba.

His album bested fellow nominees AntibalasBebel Gilberto, Anoushka Shankar and Tinariwen

Later, Burna gave a fire performance to close out the Premiere Ceremony, featuring two Twice As Tall tracks—watch it here.

Stay tuned to GRAMMY.com for all things GRAMMY Awards (including the Premiere Ceremony livestream), and make sure to watch the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show, airing live on CBS and Paramount+ tonight, Sun., March 14 at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT.

Check out all the complete 2021 GRAMMY Awards show winners and nominees list here.

Watch Burna Boy Slay With Performance Of "Level Up," "Onyeka" & "Ye" At 2021 GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony

Alanis Morissette's 'Jagged Little Pill': For The Record

Alanis Morissette

Photo: Terry O'Neill/Iconic Images/Getty Images

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Alanis Morissette's 'Jagged Little Pill': For The Record

Learn about the singer/songwriter's big GRAMMY night at the 38th GRAMMY Awards with her third studio album

GRAMMYs/Mar 23, 2018 - 03:10 am

For a generation of music lovers, the '90s hosted a boon of hits that have now attained classic status. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill is arguably at the top of the list.

Released June 13, 1995, as her third studio album, Morissette worked on the project exclusively with producer/writer Glen Ballard. She plumped the depth of raw emotion to craft the LP's 12 alt-rock tracks, marking a departure from her previous pop-centered releases.

The Canadian native's honest approach to Jagged Little Pill flipped the industry upside down. The album went on to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and produce three No. 1 Billboard singles: "You Oughta Know," "Hand In My Pocket" and "Ironic."

As of 2015, sales of the album surpassed 15 million copies in the United States, making it one of only three albums to reach that milestone behind Metallica's self-titled album (16.1 million) and Shania Twain's Come On Over (15.6 million).

Further solidifying its legacy, a musical stage production based on the LP will premiere in spring 2018.

Jagged Little Pill also brought Morissette her first four career GRAMMY wins at the 38th GRAMMY Awards. She took home the coveted award for Album Of The Year and Best Rock Album, while "You Oughta Know" earned Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and Best Rock Song.

"I actually accept this on behalf of anyone who's ever written a song from a very pure place, a very spiritual place," Morissette said during her Album Of The Year acceptance speech after thanking Ballard. "And there's plenty of room for a lot of artists so there's no such thing as the best."