by Ore Fakorede
“Hype is the awkward and desperate attempt to convince journalists that what you’ve made is worth the misery of having to review it.” – Federico Fellini
Davido had all the time in the world to hype his debut, but I have just this brief opportunity to tell the ugly truth about it. And tell it I will, because “the truth is always more heroic than the hype.” Fact: ‘Omo Baba Olowo’, that misnomer of an album, is a contrived collection of forgettable formulaic tracks. All sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Clearly, someone (I suspect a certain Asa Asika) has been lying to Davido about his music. Or perhaps the notoriously shallow Nigerian music audience unwittingly invented the deception that is his so-called talent. Either way, the young man must have taken his sudden, almost Illuminati-ish rise to fame to the head, (mis)leading him to release a directionless, decidedly premature product as his debut album. To his credit, if he had recorded this hack job with a loaded and cocked shotgun aimed at his privates, he couldn’t have done much worse. *cue Homeric laughter*
Inspired by the jack-of-all-trades running wild in Nigeria’s unfortunately prolific movie industry (Funke Akindele-Oloyede, I’m looking at you), Davido wears multiple hats – singer, songwriter and (occasional) producer – to disastrous effect on ‘Omo Baba Olowo’. While I can bite my tongue and allow his passable (read: untrained and Auto-Tune compensated) singing voice, er, pass without much comment, it is impossible to voluntarily ignore his particularly terrible songwriting. No one song on the album epitomises that lyrical deficiency better than the delusively catchy ‘Down’, a poster child for the nonsensical formula currently being applied with resounding success across the Nigerian music scene: [vacuous lyrics] x [sexual theme] + [upbeat instrumentals] = surefire hit.
For a person who fancies a hands on approach to just about everything relating to his music career, it is surprising that Davido exclusively produced just one track on album, howbeit one that stands out – ‘Back When’, featuring hardly unimpressive rapper Naeto C. Nonetheless, his influence and sonic preferences resonate throughout the album, characterized by its distinctively pop feel. The consequence? Most of the instrumental arrangements are composed of the same musical elements. Translation: boring. The album comes off as over-synthesized and artificial, helped along by a destructive overdose of Auto-Tune.
Like the now epically failing Mo’ Cheddah before him, Davido is a spawn of the hype machine. So much noise has been made about him, with little thought given to what kind of artiste he is or if he is making real music for that matter. And with only two good singles to his name, the buzz surrounding his career far outsizes the substance that exists, and his potential to create more of that substance. While branding ‘experts’ may argue that Davido represents a phenomenal marketing success, one would want to ask how long you can fool the world for with a Volkswagen Beetle cloaked in a Ferrari skin. *starts stopwatch* Shallow is the word here. Nothing more, probably less.