Later next month, one winner will be selected from a nominees list of Davido and Wizkid, Angola’s C4 Pedro, Kenya’s Nyashinski and Babes Wodumo and Nasty C from South Africa, for MTV EMA’s Best African Act. Fun fact, this is the first time that both Davido and Wizkid have been nominated in the same category for an international award. And has expected blog headlines immediately ran with the suppositions of a face-off between two of the biggest African artists of their era.
In the past few years, comparisons between Davido and Wizkid have often bordered on character judgement and measurable achievements. An award category faceoff at the EMA’s, however, may be indicative of critical reverence, a value scale that is rarely ever used to compare both Wizkid and Davido, even when arguments debased to petty levels of hit counts. But it would also appear that such conversations would have never come to fruitful conclusions anyway.
At the peak of Wizkid and Davido’s becoming in the early 2010s was it was nearly impossible to define either artists based on sound. They both incorporated a range of Pop, R&B, and Hip-Hop elements fused with the African sounds and EDM—an African sonic mainstay since synths became a thing in the 80s. Agreeably Wizkid is the better vocalist of the two, and thus explains his mastery of melody building and song composition. Davido understated strength is a glaring songwriting advantage, some of which he eventually began to leverage to make bold statements like his infamous controversial single from 2012, “All Of You”, or his rap-infused featured guest verse on Falz’, “Bhad, Baddo, Baddest”. These days, despite the ongoing comparisons, both Wizkid and Davido have further differentiated their acts with outlook.
Following Davido’s global distribution deal with Sony last year and another contract with RCA, many expected Davido to look more outward with his music, especially following the release of his Son of Mercy EP, a project chock-full of Davido’s flirtation with mainstream global pop sounds; trap, R&B and Afro-Carribean bashment. But in an unexpected turn around Davido has edged closer to mainstream Afropop with “IF” and “Fall” two of his most successful singles released this year. “IF” samples lyrical cuts from Lagbaja’s Gra Gra of his millennium album “We”, while “Fall” uses the same winding melody-building technique as Duncan Mighty. Wizkid who has seemingly had an even more remarkable year is another hand doing the stuff of dreams by attempting to ship the Afro-Caribbean sound as his definitive style on a global mainframe. The release of his Sounds From The Other Side mixtape-album, earmarked Wizkid’s seeming growth into Afro-Carribean tinted EDM music, a style that was initially considered as a temporary fad for the Starboy.
Unarguably, both Wizkid and Davido have done a lot for themselves as contemporaries who are coming of age in today’s highly volatile pop scape. But at this year’s EMAs like many recent falsely driven conversations around who the better artist of the two is, there will be no further comparisons to spawn arguments, talkless of reasonable conclusions, because there is no actual value scale to compare both artists. Yes, they are both two of the most progressive voices of modern African music, but that is all. Besides, there are 4 other nominees in the same EMA category who have had equally great past 12 months.
May the best man win. And not just because the role of every nominee would prove just as valuable when the history of African music is retold to a future generation. It’s also because we don’t want to hear anymore of the pointless comparisons