David ‘Davido’ Adeleke (28)
Being a popstar is hard work. Davido makes it look easy.
Since he burst onto our collective consciousness, screaming his wealth and privilege from the top of his voice, Davido has managed to seize the imagination of the entire country. As Afrobeats became embraced by wider audience across the globe, Davido was firmly at the forefront, one part of the big three mascots, responsible for leading the charge. Naija to the world.
Only the world seemed to be waking up to Davido when he wasn’t courting their attention explicitly. After the creative and commercial failure of 2016’s Son of Mercy, Davido’s ill-advised attempt to cross over to American territory, Davido and his team came back to earth, re-strategized and made the decision to go back to what made him such an irresistible presence in the first place. The big songs, the dance tunes, with his own life as a significant part of it. In other words, material that is loved at home, and can travel easily.
Prolific and attuned to the needs of the audience, Davido can be trusted to bang out the hits. With FEM, the lead single to his third studio album, A Better Time, Davido once again found a way of capturing the zeitgeist. Who else but Davido would make a toxic song about career rivalry and have it become so outsize, it quickly assumes a second life as the soundtrack to the #EndSARs movement demanding an end to police brutality? No one else, I think.
FEM became an energizer for the Soro soke moment, a rallying chant of defiance and the anthem of a generation calling out the bullshit and the gaslighting and asserting their agency. Do you hear the people sing?
Even when he wasn’t able to walk his talk in the presence of power, it was easy to see that the omo baba olowo’s heart was always in the right place. He was still learning how to deploy his celebrity to his activism in the most useful possible way.
FEM preceded Davido’s third studio album, A Better Time. The record unveiled a young man coming to terms with his responsibilities as a father- he welcomed his third child this year-, husband, son and bringer of joy to millions of people. With guest artistes Nas, Nicki Minaj, Tiwa Savage and protégé Mayorkun on the tracklist, A Better Time shows some artistic and creative growth from the last album.
To promote the record, Davido did a fantastic performance on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, giving new meaning to the term Nigerian excellence. Anything Davido touches as far as music is concerned instantly turns to gold. According to agency reports, within a few days of release, A Better Time surpassed a cumulative 100 million streams across all digital music platforms becoming the first Nigerian album to do so. People really really love David. And the thing is he loves them back.
In a striking departure from the rest of his colleagues, Davido embraces the power of creative collaboration. We rise by lifting others Davido once said and he has lived this maxim to the best of his ability, always willing to collaborate, give credit and share space. A rarity in an industry that would prefer to do otherwise. Davido’s influence has actually made it cool for artistes to publicly acknowledge the collaborative nature of their work, especially for those working behind the scenes.
Davido’s success isn’t one off though. He has been able to transition to the role of music executive. With the runaway success of his DMW posse, he has been able to replicate his superstardom helping set up red hot careers for superstars Mayorkun and Peruzzi among others. You might have heard of these guys without Davido’s influence, but Davido’s involvement in their careers set them up the fast-track lane.
You can sense that from the way that he carries himself, the way he relates with people and the energy that he gives off. Davido is the kind of superstar that will serve as best man for his driver’s wedding and buy a house for his staff to move into. He carries a good heart that is full of warm feelings and is genuinely happy when people around him are happy. He will express some of his kindness to strangers from time to time and he is ready to do anything within his power to make sure his people are taken care off. Davido is the kind of person you want fighting in your corner.
The fans sense this and that’s why they love him so passionately. But really, what’s not to love about David?
To vote Davido as YNaija Person of the Year 2020; visit ynaija.com/personoftheyear2020