An offshoot of the Fela-Anikulapo Kuti bred music genre-- afrobeat, afrobeats has in less than 3 decades travelled all over the universe and become a global phenomenon. As it is, we’re currently experiencing a jet age in the genre with the names of our top artistes featuring on songs with top western musicians and our hits, becoming global chart climbers. This is an era that could not have been without the strife of artistes who dedicated their sweat and blood in different periods to the growth of the movement. One of such persons is David Adeleke, the Nigerian megastar known as Davido. Also known as the OBO, short for Omo Baba Olowo, today for the singer marks an important epoch in his career and the music industry as well as he celebrates ten years in the music scene. To celebrate with #DavidoAt10 him, we've decided to take a walk down memory lane to revisit solve highlights of his run:
1. Breaking through with Dami Duro
In 2011, Davido had first hit the scene with his Naeto-C-assisted debut single, Back When, an instant earworm that had gotten decent plays on MTV Base as well as on radio stations. But it wasn’t till he’d taken a second try at the music scene with Dami Duro, a number for the ultra-hyped moments at a club or even a classroom singalong, Davido himself serving as the producer, did he land his breakout hit. That same year, Davido had sealed his breakout status to win what would be the first of many awards to cinch that of Next Rated Artiste at the Headies. For his win, he’d been gifted a Hyundai Sonata.
2. #DavidoAt10; Next Rated and Beyond
The Nigerian music scene is fast-paced and many of the things that happened a decade ago which is the era where Davido himself was yet a fast-rising act, are now what serves as a sketchy blueprint of the machinations of the music scene now. Following Davido’s Next Rated win at the 2012 Headies show, he’d gone on to put out hits after hits that served to place his songs on the upper corridors of charts and his name, getting several mentions whenever conversations were had regarding Nigerian pop music came up. Some of such hits include Gobe which has 38 million views on YouTube. Aye with 64 million views, among other hits.
Eventually, his rapid-fire approach not only made him a Nigerian music sensation but placed him on the international market and bagged him a deal with Sony Music.
3. Skelewu and International Fame
They say the journey of a thousand times begins by one step. And indeed for Davido, his rise to megastardom began from conquering the airwaves of the Nigerian market before going ahead to leave an indelible mark on the African continent. It was in fact, his success on the homefront that opened up a path for his music to travel to other African countries which have influenced and have been influenced by Nigerian music. In 2014, Davido however decided to take his music’s growth past progression of the linear sort to an exponential level with his release of Skelewu. This was a single that became a smash hit not by virtue of the song alone but also its easy-to-do dance routine. Skelewu, also had two videos, the first an instructional dance video that featured the singer, some counterparts and friends doing the dance move. Then on the 21st of October, 2013, following the success of the song, a new video for the single was uploaded. This video was shot in London and was done up with a post-apocalyptic theme which showed that a Skelewu dance fever had taken over the world. The video which now sits on 27 million YouTube views had acted as a sort of prophecy that predicted the success of the song and launched him fully into the international market via the UK scene. Later on that year, Ghanaian singer, Fuse ODG hit the airwaves with Azonto, a single with its own dance move and this had furthered Afrobeats global conquest.
4. #DavidoAt10: The South-African Crossover
If there’s one thing about Davido, he would make music collaborations and in 2014, he had one of the biggest which eventually gave rise to a cultural exchange between Nigeria and South Africa. The song title was Tchelete (Goodlife) with the South-African duo, Mafikizolo and was a hit in Nigeria and South Africa. Davido’s next South-African collaboration, The Sound, came the next year with Uhuru and DJ Buckz and officially opened up a sound crossover that saw other top musical acts such as Wizkid, Runtown and Burna Boy collaborating with South-African musicians and producers. These collaborations also created a visible market for South-African house music in Nigeria and saw sounds from the region being played on the radio, clubs and being used in street mixes to develop the genre we now know as street-hop music.
5. His first BET award
2014 was a groundbreaking and rewarding year for the OBO as his chart-topping work was acknowledged by award shows such as the Nigeria Entertainment Award for Male Artiste, MTV Africa’s award for Best Male and also for Artiste of the Year. It was also the year that Davido clinched his first award on the BET platform where he won the award for Best International Act: Africa.
It was during this trip for the award show that the singer linked with Philadelphia rapper, Meek Mill and his first American collaboration was made with Fans Mi which was released in June 2015.
ALSO READ: Davido’s ‘Fall’ Sets New Afrobeats Record
6. Signing to Sony Music
In 2016, Davido’s impact on the Nigerian music scene to move the afrobeats’ needle higher was recognised by Sony Music’s RCA Records, one of the record labels referred to as the ‘big three.’ This recognition came with a record deal that required him to release two albums while he retained rights to his music and performances. Word has it that Davido was highly reluctant to take the deal and was convinced by his father and friends to take it. He also postponed and eventually never released his intended sophomore album which was titled The Baddest due to the fact that his deal stipulated that his album have an international appeal.
The singer then released a 5-track EP titled Son of Mercy featuring American singer, Tinashe, South African rapper, Nasty C and Simi.
7. #DavidoAt10; Starting up DMW
As the Nigerian music scene continues to grow, there has been a rise of artistes opening up record labels. In 2016, Davido similarly applied his hands at running a music business and transcended from being just a singer to being a music executive when he established Davido Music released Worldwide. This move came some months after his Sony deal and in April 2016, Davido signed two artistes, singer Mayorkun and the rapper, Dremo. DMW has since expanded to cater to more artistes and currently has three other artistes namely singer-songwriter, Peruzzi and Yonda, the first lady signee, Liya as well as the aforementioned acts.
The label has enjoyed a good run since its inception, serving to release hits while having so far released albums for each mentioned artiste except Liya.
8. If and Davido’s Resurgence
Like every epic story, the star-aligned protagonist eventually comes across some road bumps that may even appear like the curtain call of the show. Davido met a similar fate and ironically, it came on the tail of his Sony deal. For further context, his career suffered a form of a setback as he took a hiatus for most of 2016. And this unfolded due to the terms of his contract which stipulated that any of the two albums he was to put out under the record label, was to have an international appeal to it.
In February 2017, Davido’s music-bound fate took an upward turn after the release of his Tekno-assisted single If became an instant hit in Nigeria. From that point, it had catapulted into a virtual global hit, with countless people all over the world using the song on videos of themselves on the internet.
For Davido, If was a gamble because even though members of his team hadn’t seen potential in it, Davido was certain it was the song that would do the magic. To date, he speaks highly of Tekno who also wrote the song yet insisted that Davido record it.
Davido then re-negotiated his deal with Sony, gaining creative control of his sound once again before releasing a string of well-received singles that same year.
9. Selling out O2 Arena
On Sunday the 27th of January 2019, Davido made history in front of a large crowd of screaming and excited music lovers. They’d congregated for the night to be entertained with Davido’s arsenal of hits at London’s 02 Arena which he’d sold out to the full capacity of 20,000. That would be the second time an African act would sellout the arena.
10. Davido Gains Global Domination with Fall
Davido’s story continues to be written and more milestones and achievements made. An instance is him becoming the most followed African musician on Instagram with a 20 million follower count. While this article may not enlist all of the stars groundbreaking records, Fall, his second single in 2017 after his return, would always be an important chapter of the Davido story. This is because Fall is at the moment the longest-charting Nigerian song on Billboard charts. The video of Fall has also grossed 200 million views on YouTube and is as a result, is the first afrobeats video with that number of views.
To cap it all, the song unlocked true smash hit levels by going Platinum in South Africa and Gold in the US and Australia.
As the megastar continues to celebrate his stay in the industry with the #DavidoAt10 movement, we at Notjustok say a huge congratulations to Davido on his 10th year music anniversary and cheers to unlocking more milestones.