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10.7.17

Wireless 2017: The Real Starboy

Wireless Festival 2017 Wizkid Tinie Tempah Ezinne Asinugo | Ses Rêveries by Karina So

Fresh off the back of Wireless 2017, with the sore muscles and raspy voice to prove it.

Wireless Festival is no stranger to a great line-up and this year was no exception; talent flew in from across the Atlantic and Mediterranean to share the stage with some of Britain's finest, mainstream and underground. From a taste of that Escobar life with the G.O.A.T. himself to Abel's silky-smooth vocals somehow sounding even better live (how tho?), I was in my element and loving every damn second of it.

Well, nearly every second. Half the long weekend was good vibes and great music; the other half was essentially a sweat swap meet between mosh pits, over a cocktail of the most unpleasant smells (deodorant is your friend, children). But none of the latter could have put a damper on Sunday afternoon, when Starboy picked up where Sean Paul left off with none other than Ezinne Asinugo (!!!) in his own crew of back-up dancers. Given my half-decade long obsession with CEO Dancers, to say I lost my cool when she sashayed onstage with those gambs and that energy would probably be the understatement of the year - right after "Donald Trump is a terrible president."

Wireless Festival 2017 Wizkid Tinie Tempah Ezinne Asinugo | Ses Rêveries by Karina So

Wizkid himself was raw, unbridled magic onstage, the very picture of African showmanship. Only his second appearance at Wireless and possibly the only set of the entire festival where I knew every single word to every single song - cue impressed stares and approving nods from the Nigerians and non-Nigerians alike who dared share the front of the stage with us pre-Superstar fans - he kicked off on a high note with early bangers Don't Dull and Tease Me making the set list (ofkesss), and only went higher with surprise appearances from Tinie Tempah who took us on a short jaunt down memory lane with a rendition of 2010's Pass Out, as well as an artist who looks a hell of a lot like LAX (see below) but there's no way it was him.*

[EDIT: Our mystery man goes by the name of Yxng Bane. And it's awkward because he's verified on Instagram and I still do not know who he is. Shout out to the folks on Instagram for the connect.]

Wireless Festival 2017 Wizkid Tinie Tempah Ezinne Asinugo | Ses Rêveries by Karina So

Wireless Festival 2017 Wizkid Tinie Tempah Ezinne Asinugo | Ses Rêveries by Karina So

Wireless Festival 2017 Wizkid Tinie Tempah Ezinne Asinugo | Ses Rêveries by Karina So

I wasn't really paying much attention to journalistic details at that point, in all honesty. Wizkid was less than ten feet away from me, just hours before faux-Starboy, the Weeknd** was set to take the stage. I saw little else for the first fifteen minutes.

Arguably the face of Africa's new urban sound, Wizkid has moved from strength to strength since his humble beginnings riding bicycles on a basketball court with Ice Prince for Holla At Your Boy. Constantly evolving with the many, many faces of Afrobeats, the twenty-six-year-old Lagosian's finger stays one beat ahead of the pulse with admirable consistency as he mediates between the genre's three main focal points - Lagos, Accra and today, with its conglomerate of first- and second-generation African immigrants, London. And his kinship with Drake could very well mean open season on Toronto as Afro-Canadian artists like Nonso Amadi garner more of a green-white-green presence in the Great White North.

Everything he touches turns to gold, even over-commercialised, watered-down disappointments like One Dance.*** It really was only a matter of time before the whole world started to notice, and boy do they notice now. His entire performance yesterday was life itself, from Afro Pop playboy anthem Caro all the way to the dancehall-fuelled Come Closer, and he knew it as he sauntered offstage leaving DJ Tunez to close out the show with his own career-defining singles Iskaba and Get Up.

It was loud and it was proud, a celebration of life like only Africans know how - with friends, a solid beat and a whole lotta dancing. It was the very spirit of Nigeria if you overlook her dismal politics, declining economy and penchant for corruption, not to mention the lack of Jollof rice and it was fucking brilliant. Oshey, Ayodeji, you did well. Ojuelegba to the world.

photography by Karina So.

*I'll look through my videos of his performance and find out his name because he was actually lit, but shout me if you know who this is.

**Abel didn't comment on or even mention the Starboy brand, which is a crying shame. The drama would've reignited a very important conversation about Western/African music relations and the significance of cultural awareness in this increasingly globalised digital music scene because people cut Abel way too much slack for that casual affront tbh.

***If you know, you know. If you don't know, don't @ me.
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