A captivating humane characteristic that is also rare among popular artists that can hold you spellbound while in conversation with Wizard Chan is his humility and depth of perspective. Arguably, these features are not found in many up-and-coming artists moreover, an artist who is making the paper rounds both locally and internationally. Not being too critical, an interview with Wizard Chan reignites the glimmer of hope as to the depth of insight, creativity, hard work, and human virtue that makes up the contents of Nigeria’s hip pop music. With no further ado, let’s meet Chan:
Wizard Chan is a Nigerian hip-hop artist, the last of five siblings, born and bred in Port Harcourt. He had his secondary education at De World International secondary school in River State, Port Harcourt, and tertiary education at Wisconsin University in Accra, Ghana where he studied Marketing. Had his service year (NYSC) in Sokoto State where his music started to gain speed.
In the Beginning…
Talking about the start and sporadic growth of his music career, Wizard Chan did not fail to recount the childhood opportunities he had while in the process of discovering and exploring his vocal gifts. Unlike the genesis of other artist music careers, Chan stated:
“I won’t say it’s the way every other person says it. I wasn’t a church boy. Though I was in choir, that wasn’t what started my career. I only went to the choir because that’s the only place I could sing for free, not actually because I enjoy going to church. I got to know what I sounded like. I’m sure you know someone that sounds like me would not be accepted in a church choir.”
As intriguing as that might sound, a much more fascinating music career journey officially dates back to Chan’s secondary school days:
“I remember I wrote my first song, which was in Secondary school, and by 2011, I was done with secondary school. I went to the studio for the first time around December 2011/ January 2012. 2013, I went to Ghana for my university and continued my journey there. But for me, it was more like a learning process because I’m the kind of person who wasn’t all about ‘blowing up’.”
In truth, the idea of being a celebrity and gaining popularity is relatively a wild dream of every artist, especially in this part of the world where pop acceptance widens the range of listeners and fans. As in the local parlance, everyone wants to ‘blow’. The difference between this popular desire and the artist himself is the personality and perceptual disposition of the artist. In this case, Wizard Chan differs:
“Yes, I want to blow but I understand that music can be bigger than you sometimes. All those years, I was not bothered about if I was blown or not. I have done music for over twelve years, so you can imagine how many people I’ve seen ‘blown up’ in this journey and I still have to stay calm.”
This was how the real deal started:
“I started my label and company with my best friend because I studied Business at school, studied Marketing and I also had the opportunity to do research on the music business when I was done with school. I discovered that getting a deal from a recording label is a lot and sometimes it might break you down. For that reason alone, I decided I was going to do my own thing with my friend. We put every single thing we had into music even though we didn’t know what we were doing because we didn’t have direction at first but I guess the best way to learn is to fail.”
Right, there is a life hack and good philosophy; ‘the best way to learn is to fail.’!
Why the Name Wizard Chan?
According to Chan, there is nothing mystical about the name “Wizard Chan” only that people generally fall into the error of assumption and wrongly attaching strange meanings to simple words “Wizard is someone that is very good at what he/she does. It’s just me being a musical wizard, nothing more. Chan itself was my jingle, a sound I make in every song though I didn’t put it in ‘Earth Song’ but it’s in songs like ‘Que Sera Sera” Chan explained.
“I remember recording the jingle in Ghana when I saw these Chinese write-ups on a wall, and they told me to freestyle. I free-styled and made that sound and from then on, people said the sound is so cool and I should continue to make it in my songs. I continued making it and it stuck to me and a lot of people stopped calling me Wizard, they call me Chan, and we all turned to Chans.”
Wizard is someone that is very good at what he/she does. It’s just me being a musical wizard, nothing more. Chan itself was my jingleWizard Chan, 2023.
I bet, for some fans, it is good to know that the name ‘Wizard Chan’ is not as cryptic or mystical as it may sound.
Chan Empire and the Chan Movement
The Chan empire consists of the artist and his fans, also known as Chans. Wizard Chan decided to call the name of his fan community Chan Empire; “We have a meaning; it means togetherness and love. It’s like saying, Wizard Love. Because I also make a love sign using one hand and when it comes together it forms love. It means for you to be a Chan; you must have love in your heart. And for love to exist, two Chans have to be there. In Chan’s empire, we have love among ourselves.”
The whole Chan movement started when in Sokoto 2019, I had a lot of people supporting me and it became bigger.
Muse: Philosophy vs Religion
We are in a world where sources of inspiration for many artists are of questionable value and this obvious fact lies in the music they release. In this conversation, Wizard Chan prides on God being his source of inspiration, most especially his affinity for spirituality and not religiosity. When asked about his inspiration, Chan had this to say:
“God. I’m not a religious person but I’m a spiritual person. I believe religion divides us. I believe love is the only way and God is love. I also jam, and make a lot of songs but my muse comes from when I’m speaking my truth, my life, and all that. So, most of the time, when I’m not jamming, the inspiration comes from life, reality, pain, and sadness. I called my sound damnation because it’s from my pain and I believe hell is not only hell, you can be in so much pain and feel it is hell.”
“So, the ability for me to sing about the things that hurt me because I don’t dance away my pain, I dance to it. If I lose anyone dear to me, (God forbid), I want to be able to remember them so that’s why I can’t dance away the pain. I have to dance to it. My music comes from my pain, whatever makes me feel loved, and happy, anything that happens to me, they are my music. “
… religion divides us. I believe love is the only way and God is love.Wizard Chan, 2023.
The Messenger and His Spirituality
When asked about the inscription on his social media page ‘messenger of the creator’ and ‘mouthpiece of the ancestors’, here is the explanation, right from the horse’s mouth:
“Definitely, I’m a messenger of the creator because I’m a messenger of God. There are certain things God has said I should tell the people in this world and they are not listening. It is not the usual bible stuff, no. There are misconceptions in life, things that people are scared to say and I’ll say it. And I’m not here to say I’m God. I’m not God, I’m human. Everybody has a purpose on earth and my purpose is to be a vessel.”
I’m a messenger of God. There are certain things God has said I should tell the people in this world and they are not listening. It is not the usual bible stuff…Wizard Chan, 2023.
Here is an expo:
“For example, in one of my songs and album titled ‘The Messenger’, I say ” the colour black is not evil, it’s only in our mind, because night maketh way for a shining bright day so the day maketh way for the hallow dark night, everything is equal, I’m speaking God’s mind”. That is deep because I’m a black man and every little thing is evil, they blame it on black. Who brainwashed you? Surviving in darkness means you are strong, either spiritually or physically, sometimes the darkness can be your guide; it could be why you survived.”
“So, for morning to come, darkness has to come and for darkness to come, the day has to go. At the end of the day, they all do the same work. God is not petty, it’s the religion that makes people hate and makes God look petty. I am a mouthpiece of the ancestors, and how ancestors are our forefathers, there are some pains they carry about and some things they want the world to know; culture and everything, and no one is talking about it. So, I’m here to be a mouthpiece for my ancestors, to promote my language and culture.”
Truth, Nigerian Political Space, and Everything In-between
He discussed the inspiration behind his first single, “the truth,” and how it differs from his subsequent works. According to him, he makes music the way he feels, and he is not afraid to express his emotions through his art nor does not chase trends. Chan went further to discuss his thoughts on the Nigerian political space, saying that he does not want to be political but will address social issues that happen everywhere in the world. He also spoke about his latest single, “Earth Song,” and how the birth process inspired him to talk about women. Chans reveal that it was inspired by the pain and sacrifice women go through during childbirth, which is one of the most painful experiences in life.
Chan also spoke about his dream collaboration in the African music space, revealing that he would love to work with 2baba because he created the path for today’s generation of Nigerian and African artists.
Chan hopes to communicate a message of self-discovery and appreciation for one’s roots through his music. He believes that it is essential to reference one’s roots, especially for Africans.
Chan is grateful for the support he has received from veterans like Don Jazzy and Chris Brown, as well as his fans. He mentions that he does not care about being one of the ‘hotcakes’ in Nigeria and is happy that his songs are out there.
Chan hopes that his music will inspire people to appreciate their roots and tap into African music while spreading positive messages about social issues.