Davido’s personality is built around a show of wealth. His first album, released seven years ago, is titled “Omo Baba Olowo” – a brag which acknowledges him as the son of a wealthy man. His latest album, his second, still plays around the subject. However, since 2012 – when Davido was a shirt-pulling teenager with tireless energy – a lot has happened.
More famously, Davido is a father of three kids, and out of celebrity culture, he’s about to marry the mother of his latest child. These, when paired with his success on the personal front as one of Africa’s biggest Afropop stars, are markers of an enjoyable life. Business-wise, his reputation as a lovable person, real and helpful, has helped shaped the public image of his label, Davido Music Worldwide, which is home to stars such as Yonda, Dremo, Peruzzi, and Mayorkun.
These wins are collected in the album artwork of the album, showcasing a depth lacking in mainstream artistes; at the back, he and his father look at a statue of Veronica, Davido’s mother —the artwork sets the artistic vision of A Good Time. Self-appraising, yet rooted in the memories of the dearly departed; in other words, back story to skeleton the album through the entirety of its shelf life.
A Good Time begins on a note of braggadocio, with Davido singing “Everything I do is a lifestyle” on the first line. The intro, with production warm and strings-plucked, settles into a mood of ease. This will flow through the album’s core, irrespective of whatever themes he sings about. Whether he is brash and boastful of his wealth (‘1 Milli,’ ‘If,’ ‘Fall’) or declaring his love for his LOML, (“Assurance” and “Get To You”), the music is usually subtle, with its pacing favoring cohesion over individual brilliance.
Through AGT’s seventeen songs, Davido casts himself in the light of celebrity, but he infuses just enough humanity to subvert jealousy. Two cases: Where he shouts “Assurance 2020” on the closing seconds of a song, we’re reminded of his engagement with Chioma Rowland, the marriage scheduled for next year. Davido presents himself as human, yet capable of submitting body and soul to one person, even with the myriad options available to people of his social strata. Second, “Animaseun”. The Yonda-assisted track does well in its role as closer: for one, it wraps the album in an appreciative tone, with Yonda’s raw Yoruba (reminiscent of 9ice) melding with Davido’s contribution. Classic grass-to-grace tale, he tells of his infamous decision to leave school at some point and make music, much to the disapproval of family and friends. “But una dey see me now,” he sings, and one pictures him: hands outstretched, smiling, happy.
Happiness is at the fore of Davido’s latest album. A Good Time is personal, a careful gaze into that which contributes to Davido’s happiness as a person.
It so happens to be more careful in approach: the songs can be classified under the “Afrobeats” tag, although much of Davido’s music falls just outside what marks the genre. This means that Davido benefits from the global thirst, yet asserting his sound as different, as recognizably his, fashioned by the usual suspects: Kiddominant (an accredited co-writer on AGT), Shizzi, and Speroach Beatz.
The songs on AGT are heavily influenced by African rhythms, not just the dance-like thunder of a “Killin Dem” or club banger “Joro“. On this note, I share an anecdote common among the Igbo: a big man is known to favor grand music, mid-tempo or slow. Why this is, no one really knows. But it is generally assumed that the wealthy will rather not exert himself physically. Rather, he makes swaying movements, slow turn of the hands, his show of ebullience complete with a big smile. It is this mood that much of A Good Time mirrors.
Davido has released his second album, seven years after his first. In between, there’s 2016’s “Son Of Mercy,” a forgettable listen. Eager to sell to the international audience, Davido lost his core.
Reverse is the case. Recognizing Africa as his first audience, Davido has made A Good Time. One could say it’s the album Davido has always wanted to make: a prosperity project that sells his hustler nature, and thus justifies his one of his biggest life decisions. (leaving school.) A huge task by all means, by employing the services of songwriters, he has strengthened his music and in one fell swoop, emerged as a popular face for the revolution which brings down the limits of collaboration in the Nigerian music scene.
As many critics have conjectured, A Good Time will age well. It is one of the more resonant projects in recent times, and for its creator Davido, it showcases a modern-day veteran at the peak of his powers. He seems unable to make an average song nowadays.
We say: May the good times continue.