Davido Sony Music was right to change singer’s style of music?

Was Sony Music right to want to change his style? Yes. And that's from a solely business perspective.

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Davido HKN boss play


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When Davido sold his creative control to Sony Music in exchange for the promise of penetrating the international scene, he was elated. One video after another showed him stunting and swearing allegiance to the behemoth of a major record label.

But in that happiness, he failed to understand the basis upon which he was signed. Davido was handed an experimental contract. Sony Music was looking to export an African star to the world, and Davido, with his swagger, pomp and fan base looked like the perfect candidate for it.

And as they rolled out the working plan, it became clear to Davido that he was in for something uncomfortable. Davido was recording in studios in Atlanta, New York, and many cities, but the content of what he was producing was changing.

Davido play

Davido signs global music deal with Sony BMG



Working with special producers and music executives from RCA Records was a new experience, and the direction of the music was not exactly what he had in mind when he signed. Sony wanted an Africa star, but they didn’t want African music.

So Davido was forced to blend his music with different Western genres, which resulted in the creation of his collaboration with Tinashe on the song ‘How long’. This song was released and housed on the lukewarm “Son Of Mercy” EP.

Fans knew that something was wrong was Davido. There was a strong condemnation on social media, and critics roundly voiced their disgust with the project. Davido evidently struggled to put it all together and the music he created, also felt like a struggle to listen to.

Something was lacking. The international foray was affecting the essence of the singer. He was unhappy, and he voiced it countlessly on Snapchat. Sony Music had poisoned his fountain of creativity by mixing it with foreign elements.

Davido - "Son Of Mercy" EP play

Davido - "Son Of Mercy" EP



But all of that changed this year. Davido found himself again.

“All last year , they tried to change my sound .. saying staying true to my culture wouldn't work for me outside Africa!” Davido wrote on Instagram.

“This year I fought and pleaded for 'them' to allow me make the music I know how to make and now see what's happened!! Music ain’t got a language !! now i got the biggest song in Africa once again! Thank to Jah!!”

Tekno. That’s the guy responsible for the new Davido song that is out now. The title is ‘If’, and it has all the hallmarks of what made Davido once kick us in the balls and demanded that we all bow to his music. Its core is derived from indigenous music, and it sits perfectly along the wave that Nigerians are currently riding on.

Davido and Tekno worked hard together at creating the perfect wavy sound to sit  right at the heart of the tempo and sound motif that Lagos and all its surrounding cities are basking in. That drop-stop drumkick, combined with meandering pop synths, and intermittent supply of horns feel like heaven.

“No do, no do, no do gra gra for me..” Davido sings on the chorus, a clear borrowing of Lagbaja’s hit song,’Gra Gra’, which would hit the recognition centers of our brains and pave way for better acceptance.

The video shows Davido, on a street in London, where he is smitten by a love interest played by veteran dancer and video vixen,  Nqobile Danseur, a model who has worked with Drake, Wizkid, Rihanna and more.

‘If’ is rapidly spreading across the world, and pushing Davido to another victory, the likes of which he has not enjoyed.

Nqobilé Danseur and Davido in 'If' video play

Nqobilé Danseur and Davido in 'If' video



Was Sony Music right to want to change his style? Yes. And that's from a solely business perspective.

While the music purist and idealist will argue that music is universal, and can be enjoyed irrespective of age, time, place, colour, culture, race, and market. That’s far from the reality. More often than not, research shows that people gravitate towards what they already know.

A random young white teenager in Atalanta, Georgia, won’t chase CDQ, or Small Doctor. Neither will he be looking for fulfilment in the music of Pasuma. He would gravitate towards the sounds that He is accustomed to. And Sony Music, know this.

Via research and studies, they have discovered that the bet way to break in a new artist, would have to involve compromise. Wizkid is rebranding his music, and inserting Caribbean elements and patois into his sound and lyrics. He is compromising to suit the contract that has been signed.

While Davido’s ‘If’ has become the new soundtrack for African parties, it’s success is too minute, and negligible. Only when it does penetrate wider markets, does it truly present actual value to a major label such as Sony.

But for Davido, it’s a personal victory. His stock has risen. He has the fans behind him again. The music is sick, and would rake in the revenue via performances and digital sales. Perhaps that’s all that matters to him: This chance to be a great commercial artist in Africa. This chance to stay on his continent and dominate. That feeling of happiness and achievement that accompanies seeing fans scream your name in African stadiums.

If that is his sole ambition, he has no business being in bed with a major label.

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