That’s why they’re big artists. It’s a whole lot of responsibility other than showing up nice in videos, performing at the best venues and making the biggest bucks. They do more than that. They ought to do more than that.
But Davido didn’t do that in 2016. He was caught up in the strings of Sony Music who pulled him apart in different ways. He tried Trap music, pushed for House on a collaboration with Tinashe, and utilised patois unsuccessfully on ‘Gbagbe oshi’, a single he bought off General Pype.
"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,” Davido told Guardian.
This year is different. The vibe is different. The feeling is new, and the music is successful. Two singles turned things around for him, and he has had a great run. Davido has released five singles in 2017, but ‘If’ and ‘Fall’ continue to be the best songs that Nigeria has had. Best not in terms of quality, but the commercial acceptance, and the cultural relevance that it has attained. As the year winds down, he’s ending on a high with two records ‘FIA’ and ‘Like dat’.
Where 2016 brought uncertainty for the star, 2017 has been nothing but blessings for Davido. In fact, he has had the best run of the lot in Nigeria. A case can be made for his arch-rival Wizkid, who is pushing for markets beyond Africa. But that is beyond Africa. Nigeria is the basic playground for Nigerian artists, and judging by that, Davido has played himself in nicely this year.
“Everyone is excited. Davido is probably at the highest point of his career right now, having two of the biggest songs on the continent in the same year is a great deal,” says Sam Frank, who is the Head of Communications at Davido Music Worldwide (DMW), and talent manager at The Plug.
The success of his 2017 debut aside, Davido scored another record at the level of ‘If’. Utilizing the Ghanaian ‘Pon pon’ bounce which has become the sound of 2017, the singer, via the aid of producer Kiddominant,
“I feel like David has a unique talent. People are talented in different ways. His talent is knowing what to say, he is just a complete artist,” Kiddominant says as he describes the record. “Everybody is talking about ‘Pon pon’ factor, I don’t know who came up with that, but it is the factor of the Ghanaian sound that is popping.”
What ‘If’ started for Davido, ‘Fall’ continued and consolidated it. The record achieved cultural relevance and success almost instantly, making it two hits out of two for the singer.
His third single, ‘which is a massive collaboration with US Hip-hop stars Rae Sremmund, and Young Thug is out and caters to a niche crowd. All these are success. A great winning run for the artist.
As a result of this, Davido has also enjoyed touring. The singer organised tours for both ‘If’ and ‘Fall’, playing venues across the world and raking the cash from performance fees. The ’30 Billion Tour’ was a blast, running through 30 venues in the US, Africa, and Europe.
His success has rubbed off on his signed artists too.
“Every other artiste on the team is trying to measure up and make sure they end the year on a good note. Most importantly, we are riding on the Davido wave as much as possible to help the other budding acts,” Sam Frank says.
He is right. Dremo has had a new lease of life, pushing out singles too. Due to the boss’s brilliance, there’s a knock-on effect which has spurred his signed artists. This has generated speculation about the possibility of a compilation album.
“Yes there was one,” Sam says. “But for now, No! because he's about to release his 2nd studio album in thirst quarter of 2018, Mayorkun is working on his debut album as well which is due for mid-2018, Dremo, on the other hand, is about to release an EP any moment from now, we just waiting on word from our A&R team.”
As awards come and go Davido was successful at the MTV Europe Music Awards (MTV EMA) where he picked up the trophies for Best African Act, and Best Worldwide Act. At the MOBO 2017, he’s carried home the best African Artist. At the NEA Awards, high-flying Davido took home two awards for Hottest Single of the Year (“IF“) and Afropop Male Act of the Year. His protege, Mayorkun also took home an award for Best New Act.
2017 is in its final month. As is the tradition, Nigerian artists are scrambling to fill out the remainder of the year with new releases and albums. But none can compare to Davido. He has done his work early, ran his race, and he can kick back and enjoy a great December.
That’s why he is the Pulse Artist of the year. Tell me, who has had a better year than O.B.O in Nigeria? Answer, I’ll wait.