Lanre Odukoya writes that despite the once chummy relationship between Wizkid and EME, his record label, discord had always seemed a matter of time
When the bubble burst it was with an element of drama. It might have been a storm long concealed, but it became public knowledge when Ayodeji Balogun - better known by his showbiz moniker, Wizkid - voiced his frustrations on Twitter and Instagram, last week: “Don’t take loyalty for stupidity...don’t! Moving on to start all over again!...If they sleep on, you move on!”
Artsite-record label bust-up is a regular phenomenon in the showbiz world. And this may just have been another. But the artiste here is Wizkid, the goose that lays the golden egg at Empire Mates Entertain (EME).
That Wizkid is having a fractured relationship with the management of EME whose helmsman is Bankole Wellington a.k.a. Banky W (though with Segun Demuren playing next in command in the background) is not in doubt. As disturbing as the news may be to the showbiz community, observers have always expected the relationship to hit the rocks. It may appear to soon given EME’s age. But seriously, how long did Innocent Idibia stay with Kennis Music before he threw in the towel? So, it’s nothing peculiar to brand Wizzy.
From all indications, there had been fairly managed cracks in the house for several weeks and their outings throughout the Yuletide led a few to suspect that not all was well with the budding music group. With Wizkid almost always preferring to share the limelight alone, hitting the stage last as the grand performer and Banky W sometimes playing a back-up singer for his protégé, it didn’t require a second look to know things would soon fall apart as it has finally come to be. However, sources from the EME house still deny Wizkid’s separation from the management.
EME is less than a year old whereas Banky W and Wizkid’s working relationship, or better still, mentorship is almost four years old. Banky W reportedly met Wizkid on one of MI’s visit and it all started taking shape from that point on. We’ve not also forgotten how Banky W practically appealed to Etisalat CEO, Steve Evans, so he could bring Wizkid, his protégé, on stage for the very first time. It was at one of Etisalat’s brand activation shows held at the moribund event centre, Planet One, Lagos, three years ago. With his petit frame and velvety voice, Wizkid did not disappoint. He won himself a huge number of fans including Steve Evans who only moments ago was reluctant to let him perform.
But the kid in the 23-year-old Wizkid would not remain so for long. Understandably so, he had at some point made his terms of engagement known to Banky W who he held in awe. So, when he said he was no longer cool with having Osagie Osarenkhoe manage him. He was obliged his wish. Wizkid was to later bring his friend, Godwin Tom, on board sometime in September last year while Osagie remained the manager of other acts in the family - Skales, Shaydee and Niyola. And the reason EME had earlier grown cold feet to hiring Tom was because he had allegedly been pitching Wizkid with other labels long ago.
There are possibly two things strong enough to stir the rebellious streak in Wizkid against the EME family - arrogance and money. Many have argued that Wizkid’s rebellion is rooted in the desire to see the terms of his contract reviewed. The same contractual agreement that bound the duo since inception should be obsolete by now, they argue. Also, Wizkid’s inability to manage stardom and fortune may also be the principal cause of the spat. And what do we expect from a young star who already owns a mansion in Lekki, drives a BMW 6 and has since vacated the EME family house?
What manner of deal did Wizkid sign with the UK-based record label, Disturbing London, owned by Tinie Tempah? How much of this does Banky W know? What is his level of involvement? Apparently, the brand Wizzy will not be searching for a local label anymore, and it would not be a surprise to hear that he has established his own label.
Banky W and the management of EME have kept mum over the issue, apparently hoping that it hasn’t finally degenerated to a total crash. While Wizkid is still holidaying in the UK and possibly putting finishing touches to some deals, Banky W is employing all the arsenals within reach to bring the situation to normalcy. In fact, Banky W was supposed to be part of a press conference at the Protea Hotel, Ikeja, last Tuesday. But he practically fled from the venue when he realized the number of journalists that had swarmed the venue. But how long can he afford to hide from this? His Valentine concert is just a few days away. So, he has a daunting task of ensuring that Wizkid steps on the stage to put this cruel story to rest.
Banky W is likely to be the bigger loser for no other reason than the clear admission of Wizkid as the biggest act in that group. This may explain why he’s avoiding the press in the mean time until they are able to paper over the cracks. But if Banky W takes the bold step and deal with the situation, things might just return to what it once was; sometimes things have to fall apart to fall in place. Wizkid has inadvertently established his position by removing the tag EME/Konvict from his Twitter profile and replaced it with other contacts. This dog has barked and it’s moving on.