How pop star went back to basics to get international acclaim
After winning Artiste of the Year at the biggest Nigeria music event, The Headies, Davido went on to win big at one of the biggest international music events, BET Awards.
This is an achievement that many probably didn't see coming when Davido signed a deal with Sony Entertainment in 2016, and released the "Son of Mercy" EP which, featuring US singer Tinashe, and ‘Gbagbe oshi’, was a critical flop.
Unlike his previous songs “Aye” and “Dami Duro,” “Son of Mercy” was a different sound that didn’t fit Davido’s music style. A blend of different Western genres, the EP came across as an experiment; one which his African fans couldn’t connect with.
“Nah, the EP was shit”, he told Native Magazine during a 2018 interview. “The songs were not picked by me, I wasn’t in the right place.”
Davido wanted the creative control which the contract had robbed him of by demanding that he made music a particular way. He was unhappy. Before he signed the deal, he always had a hit and was doing tours all over Africa with 50,000 to 80,000 people.
“I knew myself. I was like, ‘this is not Davido’. My career has always been on fire at all times, [‘till then] there was never a time that I didn’t have a hit out, and that time I didn’t have a hit. So I called Sony up, and I told them look, you have to let me do what I want to do. That’s what inspired Back to Basics,” he told Native Magazine.
So he renegotiated his contract to allow him make his kind of music. Firing his long-time manager Kamal Ajiboye in early 2017, he reunited with his original manager, Asa Asika. “Fuck all that international shit! It’s cool but fuck it. I am back to the basics,” he announced on snapchat.
“Back to Basics” is a slogan that represents the return to the Davido who had a sure-proof formula for producing pop hits before Sony signed him. He went back to creating the kind of sound which made him a superstar amongst Africans, and even foreigners.
2017, unlike 2016, was different for the singer. With his newly received creative freedom, he teamed up with Tekno - who he had previously worked with on the Tekno 2014 single, “Holiday,” and who had consistently told him about the new beats he had for him - in February to create what would become a monster hit, "If."
If” immediately became an essential at every Nigerian event, was remixed by R&B legend, R. Kelly has amassed over four million streams on Spotify and 62.8 million Youtube views, and has earned the singer several awards.
Inspired by the most popular line from the single, “30 Billion for the account oh,” Davido and his team members, his record label, Davido Music Worldwide (DMW), formed the 30 Billion Gang,a slogan that has since been affiliated to his brand.
Following the success of “If,” he took to Instagram in March to share that the Sony deal had tried to change his sound, saying that staying true to his culture wouldn’t work for him outside Africa.
“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!!,” he wrote.
Davido followed the success of "If" by teaming up with producer Kiddominant to create another mega single, "Fall."Just like its predecessor, it was an instant hit and gained international recognition.
In the song, Davido mentioned five-time Ballon d’Or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo. “Cause, my guys call me Christiano Mr. Ronaldo...Omo Nintendo,” he sang. Ronaldo would later follow the singer on Instagram, a sign that the Real Madrid star had heard and loved the song.
Continuing his delivery of pop hits, Davido ended the year 2017 with ‘FIA’ and ‘Like dat’, two records which consolidated his position as the artiste of the year.
In April 2017, he announced the "30 Billion Gang 2017 Nigeria tour, taking "If" and "Fall" to foreign countries and crowning his year with a beautiful concert in Lagos, Nigeria.
Since he returned to basics in 2017, Davido has dominated the Nigerian music scene and enjoyed touring venues in US, Africa, and Europe. In May 2018, he performed to a crowd of 10,000 in far away Suriname, South America, and with so much pride, watched them effortlessly sing to his songs.
After he emerged the Artiste of the Year at the 2018 edition of the biggest Nigeria music event, The Headies, he went on to win big at one of the biggest international music events, BET Awards.
To achieve this within the space of a year, Davido was bold enough to go back to the winning formula that brought him international acclaim in the first place. It was a gamble that paid off. Sometimes in life, never change a winning formula.
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