It was only after moving from Sierra Leone to South Australia that WaiKid came out from behind the keyboard to pick up a microphone and sing for God and shawty.
The many loves of Adelaide Afro-pop Casanova WaiKid
When WaiKid tells us over the phone he’s a hopeless romantic, we’re not surprised. What does surprise us is that his raunchy, RnB-flavoured sound is directly connected to his spirituality.
The performer, whose real name is Francis Wai, uses the puttering party-starter ‘Pull Up’ as an example.
“I go far for you girl,” WaiKid croons in the first verse, followed by a guitar lick. The song slowly dissolves into a love letter about being “your superhero” and “your healer“.
WaiKid explains that while the song is obviously about someone special, it’s really about pulling up and being present for important people in your life.
“If you hear the lyrics of ‘Pull Up’, [it’s about] missing a girl. You’re saying you will be there for them,” he says.
“But really pull up is the saying, like, we should be there for friends, loved ones, family. It’s just my lyrics are sung in the perspective of a girl.”
WaiKid is a recent addition to the South Australian music scene, breaking out in 2021 with the shiny single ‘I want you in my life’. Despite only being around for a couple of years, he’s already making waves – particularly online.
Electro Afro-pop thrills such as ‘Be Your Man’ — featuring album art of Waikid clutching a toy rabbit — has clocked in more than 30,000 Spotify streams. ‘Down Low’, his most recent track, has garnered more than 11,500.
This article was published ahead of WOMADelaide 2023.
If you missed WaiKid’s set on the weekend, you really missed out.
WaiKid will solidify his status as an up-and-coming Afrobeat Romeo at the four-day music festival WOMADelaide this weekend.
With a live band, the 22-year-old is part of a crew of other Northern Sound System alum appearing on the NSS Studio stage, orchestrated as part of WOMADelaide x Northern Sound System Academy. Emo-pop rapper INFINITIES, hip-hop musician Claz and boom-bap three-piece Sonz of Serpent are also on the bill.
“People should expect a live band and good music,” WaiKid says of the Friday night show. “It’s always good energy, good vibes, good music, and just have fun and go home. Enjoy the night that you’re listening to WaiKid music.”
WaiKid’s dance-oriented repertoire is a blend of flourishing electronic beats and summery, playful lyricism. His earlier material harks back to his Christian roots, with ‘Life is a Trip’ featuring lyrics of faith and hope sung over a pretty piano line. The video clip shows people praying.
“Most of my lyrics will now involve me talking about God,” WaiKid says. “I’m a very, very spiritual person so I always acknowledged God through my words, so when I’m on stage or praying, I say, ‘Without God I’m nothing’, because really, truly without God I’m nothing.”
But when WaiKid released ‘Be Your Man’ last year, it was a sonic turning point. This is the kind of track to inspire you to get into a fling, fusing RnB, pop and moments of hip hop. Lyrics like “I go be your man shawty / hold you ’til the end shawty” ring with affection for your homegirl. It’s dizzying and full of romantic love – notably not obviously about a love of God.
Then there are outright horny songs, such as ‘Down Low’. This sparse but upbeat single has WaiKid waxing lyrical about a lady “so thick with the big ass” and “dancing like a freak”. A steel drum anchors the intoxicating earworm. The song reaches its peak as WaiKid purrs “drop your body on the floor and let me explore”.
When we ask whether these tracks are about anyone in particular, he demurs. “That’s very personal,” he says. “But I have written a song for somebody else, that I dearly love and it’s not out yet.”
WaiKid explains he puts romance at the centre of some of his narratives as a vehicle to spread messages of love and hope.
“Because, in a sense, that’s what God wants us to do; show love and make people smile, and do good for others,” he says.
“And I see I’m doing that through my music, so I’m happy.”
WaiKid was born in Sierra Leone, where he regularly went to a Christian church and played in the gospel choir. He wasn’t a singer then, instead hiding behind a keyboard. He would blast songs like ‘My God is Good’, over which other members would sing.
WaiKid says church music played a big role in nurturing him as a musician, and it was where he learned more about it as a craft. But as an adult living in Adelaide, he wants to fuse his traditional learnings with another burgeoning love: Afrobeat.
“Burnaboy, Wizkid, Davido – I’ve been listening to the songs way back since I was a kid,” he says. “I’m very in love with Nigerian music and Afrobeats as a whole.”
The marriage of these two passions seems to be working – at least on CityMag, with WaiKid’s songs burrowed so deeply into our brains we can’t escape them, no matter how hard we try.