The pop star’s involvement has drawn some mixed reactions from afrobeats fans.
Nigerian star Wizkid scored a global hit with his 2020 song, “Essence,” featuring Tems, and now he’s recruited some major firepower for the song’s official remix. Justin Bieber hopped on the track, calling it the “song of the summer” on Twitter and thanking WizKid for letting him get involved. It’s set to appear on the deluxe edition of WizKid’s 2020 album, Made In Lagos, which drops next Friday, August 20.
Bieber adds a new verse to the song, crooning about his love story:
Bieber previously played a big role in helping an international song become a major stateside hit after hopping on the remix of Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito.” He gave the track a high-profile boost on the way to tie Mariah Carey’s (now defeated) record for most weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “Despacito” remains one of the most-streamed songs of all time, and is often credited with opening the door for Latin music to gain a consistent foothold on the Hot 100 chart.
At the same time, he’s faced criticism for what some have called cultural appropriation. He famously botched the Spanish lyrics to “Despacito” during a performance many viewed as offensive and has consistently offered half-hearted credit to Jamaican dancehall music despite using the sound—often dubbed “tropical house” when connected to him—to score major hits like “Sorry” and “What Do You Mean?” Some afrobeats fans on Twitter expressed skepticism about his involvement with “Essence” for the same reason, while others have defended it.
But Bieber isn’t the first major western star WizKid has collaborated with. He’s worked with Drake on songs like “One Dance” and “Come Closer,” linked up with Beyoncé on “Brown Skin Girl,” and has songs with Metro Boomin, Chris Brown, Wale, and more.
“Essence” currently sits at No. 54 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, WizKid’s highest position as a lead artist, and the remix seems likely to boost the song even further.