For the umpteenth time, Nigerians on social media are comparing Wizkid, a prodigious young talent turned quintessential pop prince, to that late great Nigerian singer, bandleader and activist, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.
We've seen this story before.
Wizkid teases his fans with something big. When it comes, it is photos and videos that show him in front of thousands of fans, or an award nomination and win(s) that confirms that Starboy is killing it, or a multi-million naira deal that highlights his placing as an international property.
One time, it came in the form of a collaboration with arguably the world's biggest pop star on what is looked back on as the song of 2016. , with the support of colleagues like .
As quickly as the news filters through, social media takes the cue. And then, the comparisons follow. Wizkid is the new Fela, they say.
It seems like a straightforward case; Wizkid's discography is condensed with musical and lyrical references, and in cases, reproductions of Fela's sound, a nod to an artist that the younger pop star refers to as a father.
But that is where it ends. The variety of success that often triggers this conversation is perhaps the strongest proof of the folly of comparing Wizkid to Fela.
Wizkid's success as an artiste has been largely commercial. Tipped as the future of African pop by veteran rapper and pop culture icon, eLDee, before he had even strung a single together, Wizkid has gone on to deliver on that potential by delivering easily digestable, fluffy, heavily melodious pop music that has an appeal across continents.
Fela on the other hand is remembered for much more. Abami Eda, as he is also known, was defined by a willful defiance in every aspect of his craft. Earning acclaim as an enigmatic bandleader with a love for elaborate instrumentation and 18-minute long songs, Fela was the scion of successive Nigerian military governments.
Standing next to a unicorn
He was a man who preached against ostentatious displays of wealth; trained as a Christian but in the later years of his life, devoted to traditional beliefs.
ALSO READ: Five reasons nobody should compared to Fela
Today, he lives on as a symbol of African identity and of the true, unbridled creative.
Wizkid is far from this person. In music and in approach, he has shown no intention to be the man that Fela was.
Conscious is not a word you would describe him with. Neither does he show any sign of having any interests in the socio-political themes that drove Fela's music.
[No available link text]
Presumptuous as it may seem, most of these comparisons to Fela come from those who are only familiar with a hyper-marketed version of the creator of Afrobeat, one where he is the benevolent daddy of all Nigerian musicians; the Nigerian hippie, if there ever was one.
There is no chance that this comparison will tarnish Fela's legacy. What it can do is to put Wizkid in an uncomfortable spot where he is judged against a unicorn.
There are very few people like Fela.