The easiest thing in the Nigerian music industry is to be lulled into a false sense of ‘arrival’. Every year has always been dominated by one artist or another and a look at the past couple of years will throw up hit songs from acts that have since faded off the scene and no longer command a place at the table of top-rated artists. Not so for David Adeleke, popularly known as Davido who from his first single, “Back When” released in 2011, has never for once looked back in his journey to fame.
2017 has been an epoch-making year for Nigerian music especially with the exploits of Starboy Wizkid whose international project Sounds From the Other Side has earned him recognition and accolades across board. The likes of Mr. Eazi, Adekunle Gold, Tiwa Savage, Runtown and Tekno have also enjoyed top ratings both locally and internationally. But for all the success they attained during the course of the year, 2017 has been the year of Davido. It was the year that the ‘Omo Baba Olowo’ indeed kicked down all doors of skepticism from industry observers and cynics waving only hit songs after hit songs.
Despite not putting out an album during the year, Davido has used his high-profile controversies and unending drama combined with commercially successful singles as a springboard to his most successful year yet. How best to encapsulate the year Davido has had? Let’s take the statistical route of the achievements and honors he bagged all year round.
Best Worldwide Act and Best African Act (MTV EMA), Artist of the Year and Song of the Year for “If” (AFRIMMA Awards, held in Dallas, Texas, not to be mistaken with AFRIMA which held in Lagos), Winner, Hottest Song of the Year (If) and Afropop Male Act of the Year (NEA Awards), Best African Act 2017, (MOBO Awards) where he also became the first African artist to perform during the event.
Davido can lay claim to arguably two of the biggest songs released this year, and outside shutting the internet down following every release, the numbers on several platforms back this assertion up. His biggest record this year and a contender for ‘Song of the Year’ across every award platform, “If” immediately became the soundtrack at every event after it was released in February and has amassed over 4 million streams on Spotify and 52 million Youtube views since then.
The single took off across social media and traditional platforms quickly achieving the kind of pop-cultural ubiquity that no major artist was able to garner all year long. It also dominated conversation not just across social media but even on the streets with instant catchphrases/prayer points like ’30 billion for the account’. The buzz was so huge that R&B legend R.Kelly joined in rendering his version of the song. Furthermore, The follow up single “Fall” toed a similar line commanding 37M+ views since its release in April.
It’s customary for Davido When he had issues with Dele Momodu, Davido put it in a song, when he had baby mama troubles, he put it in the remix of ‘Osinachi’, so it’s no longer weird to see the young act talk about his feelings through his music. For him, it’s not being soft or extending the controversy, it is just normal. So on FIA which recorded over 5M views in less than one month; he found a way to warn Caroline Danjuma to keep her drama far away from him, while his latest song ‘Like Dat’ which is gradually brewing up to be the anthem this holiday season did 1.1M views in one week. The numbers (bought views or not) are staggering as it takes at-times several years for some major acts to attain even a half of these figures.
The 30 Billion Tour
Following the success of the single ‘IF’, Davido embarked on a 30 cities across the continent visiting countries like Denmark, Guinea, Botswana and Sierra Leone with sold out numbers at most of his concerts.
With fame and success, comes following. During the course of 2017, Davido became the most followed celebrity on Instagram with a following of over 5 million. He had beaten the likes of Wizkid, Don Jazzy and Funke Akindele to the position, including getting followed by star footballer Ronaldo.
As much as everything was going great for Davido music-wise, he courted controversies on other fronts. From delaying his promise of sponsoring a certain David Adeleke’s Yale entry program to several accusations of ‘intellectual theft’ from different acts like Dammy Krane and producer HOD, the narrative at some point began to switch to ‘He can’t write songs, he steals from people’, but in many ways, these claims never hung on him nor slowed him down. The more embarrassing moments for Davido however came up later in the year with the death of 3 of his friends within the space of one week, Olugbemiga Abiodun known as DJ Olu, Chime Jude Amaechim and Tagbo Umeike all lost their lives in controversial circumstances. This led to the artiste being questioned by the authorities and even his house address announced on National Television by the Police Boss with Caroline Danjuma, friend to the late Tagbo accusing him of being complicit in the entire ordeal. Davido was to later cancel some of his scheduled performances within this period including Felabration but has successfully cleared himself of all accusations.
His unending rivalry with fellow Sony Music act Wizkid also ran all year on with constant shades and name calling flying across social media, with all this cumulating into members from both camp involved in a clash at the One Africa Music festival held in Dubai.
Davido has always embraced collaborations and this has helped enhance his performance CV with songs like HumbleSmith’s ‘Osinachi’ and Falz’s ‘Bad, baddo, baddest’ a regular feature. This year, on his 3rd single Pere, he featured International acts Rae Sremmurd and Young Thug, collaborated with Jamaican deejay Popcaan on ‘My Story’, Jay Sean on ‘What you want’, ‘Fine Girl’ with Wale and Olamide, ‘Erima’ with Tekno, ‘Summer Body’ with Olamide and ‘Living Things’ remix with 9ice.
His protégés Dremo and Mayorkun also had an impressive outing with the latter scoring hit songs with ‘Che Che’ and ‘Mama’ and winning ‘Best New Act’ at the NEA where they were both nominated.
Davido may have not put out a body of work during the course of the year, but he successfully grabbed a hold of the singles chart and never did let go. During a year characterized by international feats, solid albums from acts like Simi, Omawunmi and Falz, breakthrough efforts from the new generation acts like Odunsi, Lady Donli and Nonso Amadi with stellar hit singles like Runtown’s ‘Mad over you’, Small Doctor’s ‘Penalty’, Olamide’s ‘Wo’, Kiss Daniel’s ‘Yeba’ and Wizkid’s ‘Come closer’, Davido’s singles commanded a steady presence on charts and online streaming sites, remaining in the top 10 all year long.
Following the lackluster reception to his Son of Mercy EP released late last year, many wondered if Davido had lost his magic but he soon declared his artistic freedom, reverted back to the formula that had worked for him, jumped on trending sounds like the ‘Pon pon’ wave and was able to dish out easy going and danceable vibes. Davido has shown growth in understanding his music and what his fans want. Whilst his lyrics are mostly basic and not exactly thought provoking, he largely focuses on his rhythm and melody, ensuring that every song has a pulse that beats on the dance floor.
Argument will definitely be made for Wizkid; it is a year that has seen him edge ever closer towards legendary status and probably the best year of his career, but the advantage Davido has had over Wizkid this year is despite the Sounds From the Other Side and countless other singles, Wizkid is clearly still riding on the wave of his ‘Ojuelegba’ record and does not boast of any single on the scale of what Davido has offered this year. Whilst he may have excelled on the international scene, pruned down to nothing but the music alone, Davido consistently released classic pop songs, locked down the charts, has the numbers and continues to reign on the home front.