Stan culture and the enduring power of Wizkid FC [Pulse Analysis]v - JustBaze
Stan culture and the enduring power of Wizkid FC [Pulse Analysis]v

Stan culture and the enduring power of Wizkid FC [Pulse Analysis]v

Dreaded toxicity might be the social media reputation of Wizkid FC, but at the root of it all is love… lots of love and enviable loyalty.

Stan culture and the enduring power of Wizkid FC [Pulse Analysis]v

Stan Culture and the enduring power of Wizkid FC. (Instagram/Wizkidayo)

Stan culture has ridiculously bad PR and brand identity. To most people, the entire purport of stan culture is premised on the idea that a celebrity, upon whom a fan base is built can do no wrong. That even when that celebrity goes wrong and he or she gets called out for it, the stans drum up waves of support for the celebrity and the narrative becomes skewered.

For most people like this writer, they can add context to almost anything in the realm of pop culture except the mad loyalty of stan culture. People like him cannot process the idea of certain people living and breathing their daily life for another person who doesn’t even know they exist. In the old days, some people would have deemed it creepy idol worship.

In the 70’s, certain people used to get watched by law enforcement for their obsessive tendencies as regards certain celebrities. If you opened a person’s house and you saw pictures of a celebrity plastered across their wall, you might ask questions. That’s not the millennial/Generation Z reality though – things have changed and the lines of questionable celebrity worship have become blurred. Celebrity worship is now a modern reality.

We grew up on the internet and social media nurtured us. That has helped aggregate our conversations and abridge the old gap between celebrity and fan. Channels of intimacy have been created by the internet for celebrities and their fans. These days, several fans of certain acts across social media live for Wizkid, the man born Ayo Balogun.

A cursory look through certain pages and you would see his picture on headers and personal effects. People would have hashtags like #WizkidFC in their bios while others have gone as far as to write, ‘I live for Wizkid’ in their bios.

Idol worship and the creepiness of it is now our modern reality – in truth, it’s no longer creepy. To us, it’s just life. While some of these accounts are bots, a lot of them are controlled by human beings like you and I.

A lot of these stans are this devoted and aggressive because they are young and very impressionable, but some of them also are old enough to understand the power and consequence of their actions. Yet, they rep another grown man and sacrifice a chunk of their lives to worshipping another human being – yes, it is worship and a very creepy obsession.

Nonetheless, the final part of that last paragraph is the conservative and primitive part of the conversation. Modern culture has evolved – the limits of celebrity worship are now close to non-existent except people incorporate physical abuse into the conversation.

Wizkid FC isn’t all bad – it would have been creepy in the 70’s, but not today. For us, it is a symbol of unique loyalty and the unique nature of love. It is a symbol of how celebrity identity can have so much power as to demand loyalty of a wide-spread group of people. Wizkid is not just an artist anymore, he is a movement.

How did this happen?

Music is an art form and some people have the ability to make art that drives the devotion of many. In people, different forms of art trigger sentiment and devotion. That’s why some people prefer certain genres of music over other genres. Peculiar to human nature is the concept of choice and preference.

For that reason, we choose a side – either we like it or not. Sometimes, choosing a side comes in the form of people. In Nigeria, Afro-Pop is the dominant genre because people want to dance. In the last decade, Pulse Nigeria named Wizkid the artist of a decade that saw Olamide and Davido also shine both locally and internationally.

The reason was simple; Wizkid had transcended the level of an artist into a movement. You might argue otherwise, but he is the pacesetter of an entire generation and the biggest brand in the most dominant genre to a people. Before any of his enduring peers like Burna Boy, Davido and Olamide gathered significant heat, he was already a superstar.

At the start of the 2010s, Wizkid had a ridiculous three to four year run where he was excelling even when he didn’t want to. It was in these moments that he was building an army that would later become Wizkid FC. Every hit became an anthem and his wins were celebrated by Nigerians who almost unequivocally love him.

The music was in him and he soundtracked our childhood and our youth. We looked up to him and he delivered. His story was relatable to us – a random middle class boy from Surulere who became a superstar. A boy who had become inimitable even by the greatest challenges and problems. Every song increased the connection certain people felt to him.

The love they had for his music became a love for him, the artist. He might not have realized what his song ‘Joy’ truly meant when he created it, but that’s what people feel when they listened to him – joy in its purest form. The joy he gave these people aroused a need for protectionism – they want more of this joy, so they seek to protect Wizkid.

In the same vein, they can’t understand why a lot of people simply can’t feel the same way they feel. In some ways, the love Wizkid FC feels for Wizkid is pure, but in other ways, it’s obsession. A lot of these people feel blessed to have Wizkid, who has soundtracked their lives while others are simply living vicariously through Wizkid.

When Pulse Nigeria spoke with Rexxie earlier in 2020, he was speaking about how he started making music when he casually reflected upon how every young kid with a dream of becoming a big star wanted to sound like Wizkid. At the time, Wizkid was under 23-years-old, but he had already become a symbol of different good things to different people.

By just hearing his voice on radio or seeing him do anything, he would become a trending topic. He was not limited by tribal divides either. He sings in different languages and people across the country would die for him.

This is the Nigerian version of those Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, The Beatles, NSYNC or Justin Beiber moments where fans would literally be fainting at the sight of celebrity.

The power of Wizkid FC

At some point, P Square, D’Banj, Tubaba and many others had the celebrity to drive people crazy. P Square got so big that women would faint randomly at their shows across Africa. During an episode of Loose Talk Podcast, music production maven Don Jazzy alluded to how he, D’Banj and Mo’Hits would look to P Square for inspiration.

We might argue that P Square never got the spotlight of social media like Wizkid has, but this is different. As a person, I never saw anybody want to kill for P Square. Across the country, many people would literally be willing to harm people for Wizkid.

During the fall-out from the infamous Loose Talk Podcast episode, What Is Your Shoe Size? Certain people stormed the Pulse Nigeria building to avenge comments made about Wizkid.

At this point, no fan base in Nigerian music has the power, influence and aggression of Wizkid FC. As at the time of writing this article, Wizkid FC is driving votes and winning margins in favour of Wizkid against a legend, Vybz Kartel during their #NS10vs10 clash organized by No Signal.

Look, I am a Liverpool fan and I have seen the power of that club’s fan base win Lucas Leiva Player of the Year in far away Rome, Italy for Lazio. I have seen Mo Salah win countless polls due to the power of Liverpool FC fans and Jordan Henderson get into major conversation due to the sheer power of that fan base, but Wizkid FC is different.

Wizkid was always going to win that battle. Most spectators of that battle are children of the internet, social media and Afro-Swing. They arguably grew up on Wizkid’s hits and can relate to his star power more than they can relate to Vybz despite Vybz being the bigger global superstar. Vybz is in prison for the next 30 years, but he releases music more than free people.

Yet, he never really stood a chance against Wizkid. Now look at it this way, this was not a Nigerian battle – it was organized by a UK platform and followed by people from all walks of life. Yet, Wizkid’s win felt so inevitable. Every poll was won by Wizkid – even ones he shouldn’t be remotely winning. The battle became one of intimate fan bases.

Just two days before this, Wizkid FC had helped Starboi Terri’s new EP, Afro Series to incredible chart success on streaming platforms. For two days, Terri was a trending topic and so was his new body of work. That trend was definitely not started by Wizkid FC, but they carried it and made it an enduring win for Terri.

But when push comes to shove, you can understand why people feel attached to Baba Bolu. Most Nigerians between 15 and 40 are Wizkid fans. It’s only natural that the degrees vary and the intensity differs. Sometimes, it feels like the cult fan base doesn’t have a direction, but in actual fact, it does. So we ask the question…

What is Wizkid FC?

Wizkid always had a strong fan base. The first time I understood its power was in 2016. I criticized Wizkid’s new single, ‘Shabba’ and said it would not amount to anything. While I was right then and time has added more vim to my rightness, it did not matter at the time, Wizkid FC killed everything associated with my name and mentions for 30 hours.

At the time, they were not known as Wizkid FC. According to Former Editor-In-Chief of Pulse Africa, Osagie Alonge, the tag started floating around certain circles at some point in 2017 – it was a tagline for Wizkid’s stans and their unwavering power. What began as a quietly spoken descriptive then became an identity.

The tag Wizkid FC got validation in the first quarter 2018 after a line of jerseys by Wizkid was released by Nike. This was all part of Wizkid’s move into fashion and merchandising. Due to how the term relates to Wizkid’s team, it became the official tag for his stan base.

In essence, what began as a media tagline of hilarity to describe the uniquely loyal lunacy of a people became the identity of those people. Media has no influence over how that word is perceived anymore. While the word was once associated with madness and it still is, these days it’s grown to mean power, loyalty and influence – the kind Nigerian music has never seen before.

They don’t have the sellable branding of Choc Boiz fans or Mo’Hits followers, but they have something P Square stans – the closest to Nigeria’s first genuine contemporary stan base doesn’t have; social media and ridiculous spread. MI Abaga and Vector stans are close, but they simply don’t have the numbers.

Only recently did MI Abaga and Vector named their stan bases – The Tribe and Vectorians respectively. But then, there is no moment of grand validation like the roll-out of Wizkid FC jerseys by sportswear giant, Nike or the sheer superstar status of Wizkid himself.

These days, Wizkid FC is now a hashtag and a tagline that UK-based platform, Link Up TV is tweeting about. On its day, Wizkid FC is probably only rivaled by early 2010s Beliebers for devotion and Beyhive, Arianators, Swifties and Barbs for madness.

Evolution

https://twitter.com/TSwiftNewsLA/status/1138552482005770246

These days, stan bases have grown to become influential, propaganda machines for their faves. In June 2019, Fader wrote an article about @TSWIFT_Spotifya social media account that showcases the best of stan culture. In its element, this account would curate random fictionalized accounts of Taylor Swift’s life in line with pop culture references.

When Lil Nas X started popping, he became a sensation that challenged the charting power of Drake, Adele and Taylor Swift. During that era, @TSWIFT_Spotify tweeted, “Taylor Swift just blocked Lil Nas X on Spotify…”

Of course, that was not true – it was meant to be pop culture relevant humour. These days, there are numerous accounts across social media, dedicated to curating the lives of celebrities. Of course, some of them are created and run by PR companies who manage the artists, but some of them are run by individuals.

Wizkid has numerous fan accounts across social media that document his life, music and achievement. It’s actually surprising that the actual Wizkid FC stan account didn’t start existing until 2019. Nonetheless, Wizkid FC had long existed in other dedicated accounts across social media.

While Wizkid FC initially existed on WhatsApp groups, the conversations have since become better-aggregated. Word on the street is that whenever Wizkid releases something or something related to Wizkid happens, information and courses of action are discussed and agreed upon in these WhatsApp groups.

Some of these groups are hard to get into while others are already full to the brim and have become unwilling to accomodate more people. Word also notes that some of these accounts are very random and controlled by people who are scared of certain conversations leaking from the group chat.

There has also been talk Wizkid as a source of income for upper echelon members of Wizkid FC. Word is that when certain things need to trend across social media, certain people get paid to get the conversations in the right spaces from whence loyal fans take up the fight without worrying about money.

You might even be surprised that these days, Wizkid FC has a website.

Good vs. Bad

On its day, Wizkid FC is a dependable fan base that has Wizkid’s back all day. Celebrities go through tough times during which they need support. While social media-based support from abstract people might seem like nothing, they would mean something to a Wizkid on those days. It’s always good to know that certain people have your back irrevocably.

They are a weapon to promote all good things associated with Wizkid even when the media is reluctant to highlight them or when the media is ignorant to them. Nonetheless, Wizkid FC is also a symbol of scary negativity.

In its haze of blind loyalty, gullible members of its clan always see criticism as hate. For some reason, they think Wizkid can simply not be fairly criticized or critiqued without an agenda. For some reason, they think everyone who criticizes Wizkid hates Wizkid or has been paid.. Yeah, blimey.

The behavioural traits of Wizkid FC can be mild. But on its day, it can be toxic and problematic. Just yesterday, it clashed with Davido – not for the first or even the third time. For whatever reason, Wizkid FC sees any celebrity’s or artist’s move to promote himself as competition with Wizkid. It’s almost as if they have no brains in their heads to think rationally.

Their love comes with delusions too – to them, Wizkid can never be second to anybody. While that’s true to a degree as he’s the biggest act of his generation, he’s struggled in patches – like anybody else – throughout his career. Usually, he has come out and won most of those, but the delusions of Wizkid FC makes it hate people who highlight those struggles.

But away from the negativity, toxicity is the currency of stan culture. Toxicity is the identity of stan culture and the fuel that powers stan culture. That toxicity can be forgiven because it’s a measure of the energy and the love stans have for their fave. Toxicity might be the negative manifestation of that love, but it’s also the evidence of the unwavering nature of that love.

Dreaded toxicity might be the social media reputation of Wizkid FC, but at the root of it all is love… lots of love and loyalty.

 

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