Saturday, 4 December 2021

Wizkid review – Nigerian superstar spoils his victory lap with an ill-considered guest

African music perhaps has no greater ambassador than Afrobeats superstar Wizkid. The most-streamed Nigerian musician in the world sold out the O2 arena in just 12 minutes: when he walks on stage, his backdrop visual of candle flames pales in comparison to the constellation of phone torches that welcome him to London.

One final surprise guest leaves an unavoidable stain on the joy that came before. Wizkid hypes up the next act as the first international artist to show him love and celebrates this moment as his “first London performance in 10 years”, then brings on R&B star Chris Brown. There are clear pockets of silence among the portions of the crowd well aware that this 10-year absence was due to Brown’s ban on entering the UK after assaulting his then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009. (He has faced subsequent allegations of violence against women and others.) Unlike Kanye West’s recent performances with Marilyn Manson (accused of rape and sexual violence, which he denies) and rapper DaBaby (unrepentant after making homophobic remarks), it seems that Wizkid brings Brown on stage out of genuine affection rather than any attempt to shock. Either way, Brown’s appearance on Go Crazy is raspy and lacking.

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