In 2020, Nigerian star, Kizz Daniel released King of Love. In terms of quality, the album was one of the best projects that dropped that year. But its impact was as silent as that of a grain of sand in an ocean. While it did some numbers, impact and hits are the metrics to just a star like Kizz Daniel by.
An outsider's view of how Kizz Daniel went from industry pariah to having Nigerian parents in a chokehold [Pulse Editor’s Opinion]
He’s winning, and he even seeks to be more personable.
He has won Album of the year at the Headies. At some point, a lot of people billed him as a competition to Davido, Wizkid and Olamide. He was one of the major gatecrashers, alongside Runtown and Tekno. The album lacked so much impact that both him, his team and possibly EMPIRE didn’t really service it.
“Kizz Daniel is quite problematic. If there was ever an instance of someone blackballing himself because of his attitude, ego, aloofness and inaccessibility, it’s him,” says an OAP in 2021. “He is the only star with a fanbase and an album like [King of Love] because his ego failed to make him realize that the album was wrongly-timed, and that his reps - in 2020 - wasn’t what it was in 2019.”
In 2018, Vado The Great had just released his sophomore album, No Bad Songs. While the album received mixed reception from critics, it produced numerous hits and has actually aged really well.
Into 2019, he had chart topping singles with Mayorkun and Davido, which sustained him so much that, in December of that year, his show date clashed with Wizkid’s. Yet, Eko Hotel was packed with his fans. In the same year, he embarked on a North American tour. But fire was on the mountain, as news of his infamous traits had become mainstream talk in enclaves of Nigerian media and the underground of entertainment circles.
OAPs seemed to be tired of him - for reasons mostly caused by him. Media had continually stopped caring for him. And he was still battling G Worldwide, his former record label. Some people who used to work with him also had some unsavory things to say about him. Let’s just say that he burned bridges and expected his talent to sustain him.
That didn’t happen. But his aloofness impacted him the most. He was cocky enough to think that his voice could singlehandedly turn songs into hits. Then in January 2020, nobody could explain why ‘Jore’ with Adekunle Gold didn’t become a hit. Then the same thing happened with 2019’s revelation, Skiibii’s song, ‘Somebody.’
The cumulative effect of these issues led to the subtle underachievement of ‘King of Love.’
In 2021, one OAP was so bullish about Kizz Daniel that he said, “Even his sister [who is apparently a media personality] can’t save him.”
After he released ‘Currently’ and ‘Flex,’ the demeanour from fans was one of worry. Talent was obviously not the issue, neither was the actual quality of the music. It was a brand problem. Pulse even did two episodes of Facts Only to discuss the issue.
He didn’t help matters by trying to blame an industry cabal for a fire that he started; nigh a seed that he planted.
Someone like the popular media personality and podcaster, Ehiz DadaBoy, who is usually never confrontational with artists, even seemed to have some subs for the Flyboy. But this proved to be a turning point for Daniel.
Starting in Q4 2021 till now, there seemed to be a conscious effort to do three things;
- Change his brand perception and identity
- Mend broken bridges with active outreach moments
- Make himself more relatable.
At the centre of all three were two things;
- Social media
- Good music, which appeals to the soul of the Nigerian mainstream topically and via quotable hooks
Let’s break it down…
In Q4 2021, word on the street was Vado had slightly calmer. Some put it at the feet of fatherhood, after he welcomed triplets during the year. Others put it at the feet of loss, following the sad passing of his dad.
But the pictures on social media were a little colorful and intentional. Everything seemed intentional, and it felt like he was finally listening to somebody or some people other than himself.
Then people on his team started doing the grunt work with specific media outreach causes. He’s still a little aloof, but he’s no longer distant and he doesn’t seem elitist. Slowly, media personalities have started talking about his music again. Then, he set out to make himself more personable with his deft use of social media.
He showed a little bit of Oluwatobiloba Daniel Anidugbe - the person, not Kizz Daniel. He posted about his children and showed warmth. He posted about his baby mama on mother’s day and appeared to show genuine care for her. The fact that he quit smoking has also become a conversation on social media, and it positions him as a real human being with relatable struggles.
In January 2022, his house became a revolving door for artists, at a time when many artists were hosting writing camps.
If you were not in Daniel’s house, and didn’t feature on his stories, then you probably didn’t matter. He showed himself laughing and joking away. And then his Instagram Stories became diaristic, to document some doings in his life. He used it to tease songs, start #Challenges and more importantly, promote music for other artists.
He also started showing emotion, by tweeting about sessions and showing excitement, which was a step away from seeming robotic. It’s so incredible that a lot of people have now realized that he’s been an impressive stage performer all along.
Just hours before the article was penned, he was seen promoting Zinoleesky’s new song on the same Instagram Stories, while even dancing with the younger artists, who seemed in awe of Vado D’ Great. He also danced with his former G Worldwide boss, Emperor Geezy on Instagram - it was proof of peace.
Then, he backed it up with great music from Barnabas EP, and has now released ‘Buga.’ The cumulative effect of this is a string of incredible hits, which led Turntable Charts to name him Nigeria’s No. 1 act of 2022 so far. Wait for it… He then posted about Turntable Charts on his socials. Ladies and gentlemen, the new Kizz Daniel is amazing to watch.
The growth, self-awareness, sense of responsibility and maturity are palpable. Now that he’s winning, he seeks to be even more personable. Even though there remains some bits of old him, the good traits have firmly displaced them. And now, he’s back to being the darling of Afro-pop, by creating signature hits on his own terms.
Below is the facts only episode, which canvassed Kizz Daniel's issues in 2021;
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