Wizkid is having a ball with his first Sony project. But a year ago, Davido struggled with his.
Wizkid’s “Sounds from the Other Side” mixtape is out. It marks the singer’s first outing as a Sony/RCA Records artist.
The mood so far is upbeat, with fans rushing to consume and experience the singer’s growth and artistry since he took the jump from Africa to a wider market. For many Nigerians witnessing this new development and the roll-out of this new project, Wizkid is scoring all the good points. He has toured the media across two countries, dropped positively-received singles, and hosted raved concerts in the UK for fans.
It’s all good vibes, sugar, spice and everything nice for Wizkid.
But we have experienced the opposite of this. For Wizkid at this point, everything is favourable. But you just have to look across to the other side and see how much Davido’s business is different from Wizkid’s.
In 2015 and 2016, Wizkid and Davido were the poster boys of the international spotlight on Africa and the push for her pop sounds to become globally acceptable. They were ready for it. These two talents had conquered the continent, had a chokehold on pop music in Africa, had the numbers behind them, and possessed all the qualities that stardom required.
They were a perfect fit for the role.
Sony Music Entertainment stretched their long arms into the continent and offered them recording deals, and in the US, RCA Records was chosen to house them and handle distribution in the US. This was a big deal. It was the first time for a new age African pop star to be handed these international deals. The big leagues were here. Wizkid and Davido were the vanguards.
Davido was plucked, offered a deal worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, one album, with the option of more, depending on the performance of the project. OBO also lost his creative control, which required that a team from Sony will handle his A&R. They would have to fund his work with new producers, tweak his sound, and get him to create a hybrid version of the African flavor, which they can market to global audiences as the new wave.
Wizkid also received the same deal, although it was announced later than Davido’s. His contract had more financial backing, RCA was his home, and he needed to tweak his sound, which would ensure that he had a strategy to breaking even on the international stage. Already, he had begun to make his mark on that stage, working with Tinie Tempah, Drake, TY Dollar Sign, Justine Skye, Zara Larsson and many more.
Based on the strength of their Sony deals, Wizkid is rated as a greater international prospect, and he took home a bigger pay.
But hype slowly turned to despair for Davido as the realization hit home that he had signed his freedom away. He was required to evolve his music into a globally accepted pop sound.
Davido struggled to tweak his sound. All of Sony’s efforts to get him to blend with more westernized artistic styles and sounds didn’t work. His work was delayed, his music held, and it showed in the way he handled his business. Incessant complaints on Instagram and unhappy spells frustrated him, and he went several months without any released record.
In October 2016, he released the EP, “Son Of Mercy,” a project which was critically bashed. His collaboration with Tinashe on ‘How long’ was roundly criticized, and the lead single ‘Gba gbe’ did not impress either. The singer quickly moved on, with more complaints.
At the start of 2016, unable to bear it any longer, Davido negotiated and won an amendment to his contract; he received creative control for Africa, fired his manager Kamal Ajiboye, and set out to focus squarely on reigniting his career locally. While he still has his Sony deal, his core focus is in Africa.
“First of all, I didn’t even want to take the deal because I didn’t need it. I was doing tours all over Africa with 50,000 to 80,000, people so it was like why am I signing the deal?” He told Guardian.
“They tried to fix me up with a producer and I decided to come home, but I’m still signed to them, it’s going good. They have realized how much potential is here because even when I am all over the world it is my African songs that even the oyibo people f*** with.”
Wizkid has followed through with his, evolving at every point to meet the demands of his new deal. His music has taken a dominant Caribbean feel, fused with elements from Nigeria, his home country. He adapted his sound, stayed positive, and grew. Records with Drake and Chris Brown adorn his new project which has been released.
After tweaking his sound with Caribbean dance records and singles, Wizzy goes all out on “Sounds from the Other Side.” With songs like ‘African Bad gyal’ and ‘Come closer’, he also introduces elements of the Nigerian sound to U.S. crowds.
At 40-minutes long, “Sounds from the Other Side” is surprisingly cohesive. Through the mixtape’s 10 tracks, Wizkid weaves in and out of Afrobeat, EDM, R&B, House and dancehall.
But kudos to both stars for pushing beyond the ceiling of Africa with their business. Like a wise unknown man once said: “Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you.”
Based on their first projects with Sony, the bear had Davido for dinner.