It's amazing that the most detailed and in depth Davido interview ever,was done by the foreign press.Why is this always so? Why can't we tell our stories best?I know we have many good journalists in Nigeria.So why hasn't any of them done an interview such as this? Is it a case of them waiting to be paid before they can be bothered to be this detailed?I have read tons of things about Davido in the past.But never have i learnt what i learnt from this Fader Magazine interview.
For example,we have never been really told how Davido actually started his music career.It was always oh,he loved music and his father bankrolled him.Reading this interview tells exactly how Davido took on his music journey.
Did you know for example that Davido's father had him arrested by the police at the Murtala
Muhammed Airport in Lagos?
You will find out here and also the reason.If you are a Davido fan,you will enjoy this very indepth interview,six back,relax and enjoy...
Once, while on a Greyhound layover in Birmingham, Alabama, David Adedeji Adeleke, the Nigerian pop star now better known as Davido, spotted a familiar face on the CD rack of a bus station rest stop. Packed between sections for Top 40 and oldies was an album by Asa, a Nigerian-French singer not widely known in America. Davido had visited this station before, on trips to and from his college in nearby Huntsville and the home of relatives in Atlanta. But this was the first time he’d seen Nigerian music earn shelf space in a random Southern town, and it felt like an omen.
Davido was 16 when he had arrived in Huntsville, a year earlier. His father, Dr. Adedeji Adeleke, a well-known businessman and Seventh-day Adventist in Nigeria with an estimated net worth of over $300 million, dropped him off with his passport, $2,000 cash, and freshman registration documents for Oakwood University, a historically black Christian college. (People often attach the honorific ‘Chief’ to Dr. Adeleke’s name, referring to his wealth and power, largely earned through his founding of Pacific Holdings, a company that deals in steel, oil, gas, and more.) Davido had already spent time in the U.S.—he was born in Atlanta, and sometimes visited in the summer—but much about life in the States was new to him. “That was the first time I had a phone in America. There was unlimited calling. I never saw nothing like that before,” he remembers. “In Nigeria, you gotta pay before you get what you want.”
The school roomed him with another international student, a Rwandan track athlete—“I was like, ‘Okay, wow. They just put all the African people together?’”—but he gravitated toward an upstairs neighbor named Jaymo, an American kid whose speakers constantly rattled Davido’s ceiling. “One day, I went to go check what the noise was. I went upstairs, opened the door, and the guy had a full studio in his room,” he says. “I told him that I was trying to do music, too. He asked me, ‘How much do you have to invest in equipment?’ And I said, ‘$2,000.’ He was like, ‘That’s too much.’” They went to Guitar Center with $500.
From then on, Davido spent most of his time making beats and recording vocal references to send to a cousin in Lagos, a fellow musician with a trove of industry contacts. His grades slipped, and after three semesters, he dropped out and left town without telling his father. First he went to Atlanta, where he used his older brother’s ID to get into clubs, and funneled the money Chief Adeleke sent for school and living expenses toward drinks and motels. Later, he threw out his SIM card and hopped on a plane to London, where he went MIA for several months as he shifted his focus from production to vocals. “There was no Snapchat, no Instagram. There was barely Twitter,” he says. “I just went off the radar.”
Chief Adeleke, meanwhile, had been on the hunt for his son. When Davido finally returned to Lagos in 2011, with new tattoos and piercings, his father had him apprehended by police officers at the airport. Having failed to bring home the business management degree he’d been sent to America to complete, Davido reached a compromise with his father: he, still a teenager, would attend a private university two hours north of the city. His music dreams would be sidelined until he had honored his family by graduating. Davido returned to school, but often snuck out of his dorm room to hobnob at industry parties and blew off exams to record.
“People always say, ‘Oh, he’s just some rich kid.’ And he is,” Davido’s current manager, Kamal Ajiboye, tells me over coffee in the lobby of a Lagos hotel. “But they don’t realize that this music stuff—at first he did it alone.”
Davido released his first singles in 2011, while he was still in school. In the previous years, artists like D’banj, Wande Coal, and P-Square had developed a new sound for Nigerian pop, by pulling elements from R&B, hip-hop, and house, and blending them with Nigerian rhythms and melodies. The wave’s primary currency was its cool, led by singers who wore designer clothes and engineered songs for the clubs. Their music was more concerned with letting loose than standing against the country’s corrupt, oppressive government. “Before, the most popular Nigerian music was a way to give expression to the people. You could still dance to it, but it was a way to challenge politics,” Michael Ugwu, general manager of Sony West Africa, tells me later. “But these new guys, all they wanted was to have fun. It was a new image for Africa.”
Davido found an audience with just his second single, “Dami Duro,”an uptempo track with a frenetic vocal melody and rattling drums, on which he introduces himself as omo baba olowo, Yoruba for “son of a wealthy man.” With its mix of glossy synths and familiar Nigerian references—its second verse features a lyrical nod to Yoruba folk songs—“Dami Duro” endeared a then-unknown Davido to both young clubgoers and fans of more traditional fare. It would go on to become one of his biggest hits, gaining traction on Nigerian radio, in Lagos’ nightlife scene, and with his father. After the song blew up, Davido, still a student, declared he no longer wanted to study business, and Chief Adeleke paid for the university to erect a music department for an inaugural class of one.
A couple of days later, Davido performs at the wedding reception of family friends in Lekki’s Lagos Oriental Hotel. His five-song set was offered to the newlyweds by a family member as an ostentatious gift, much like the brand-new Bentley on display elsewhere in the hotel’s ballroom. Afterwards, he attempts to snake out of the hotel through a makeshift exit, his oblong face streaked with sweat. Dozens of young men crowd the wings of the ballroom, undeterred by the armed soldier who is a member of Davido’s everyday security detail. Waiters drop their serving trays for a chance to touch him. Bartenders and ushers abandon their posts. Palms are thrown to faces, temples, and the sky in disbelief. But the wilder the scrum grows, the calmer Davido seems; similar scenes manifest nearly anytime he appears in public, and he’s accustomed to the hysteria. “Sometimes they want money, sometimes they want photos, but sometimes I think they just want me to see them,” he tells me later.
His celebrity at home comes with perks and burdens. For the past few months, Davido has publicly battled for the custody of a daughter he had out of wedlock in May 2015, a tabloid scandal that his reputation has survived, partly thanks to his wealth. Millions of Africans know his name, but in the U.S., Davido is largely anonymous. Last year, after he paid cash for a house in Sandy Springs, in the same posh Atlanta subdivision where Future lives, the home was raided by police, who assumed Davido was a drug dealer or scammer. “I guess a neighbor must have tried to snitch. They saw me and thought, ‘How did that African get here?’” he says. “How do I explain to someone who’s never heard of me that I’m famous? I showed them all of my videos on YouTube. They loved it.”
A few hours after the wedding, Davido plays another show, a 20-minute set at the holiday party of a large investment firm, for which he is paid $50,000 USD. Earlier that night, he’d performed with just a DJ and a backing track, but for this gig he brings along a hypeman and a feverish five-piece band. In Nigeria, concerns about security, a lack of concert venues, and deep income disparity mean there are few large, ticketed events; aside from a handful of public concerts, private shows like these are the norm. While the major label-backed global music industry makes money from multiple income streams—album sales, radio spins, tours, and placing songs in ads—Nigerian artists have to look elsewhere.
Artists used to depend on Lagos’s Alaba market, a centralized network that distributes bootlegged CDs around the country, to build the buzz they needed to book private shows and win endorsement deals. But with physical discs becoming far less common, they’re focusing their outreach online, using social media to push free downloads on local blogs. Increasingly, there are opportunities to get paid off of releases too: with the iTunes Store, which launched here in 2012, and, more importantly, through mobile apps, built by the same local telecommunications companies whose endorsements already underwrite much of the music industry.
Davido says people with money are now afraid that flashy gestures will make them targets of government watchdogs, and that, as a result, the private concert market has begun to shrink. In 2014, he says, he might have booked as many as six gigs on a given Saturday—each paying in the neighborhood of $70,000. Today, it’s closer to two or three. “The show money is cool, but I need the kind of money that comes in the mail,” he says. “Now, if I say no shows, where’s the money going to come from? I should be able to take my daughter somewhere and say, ‘I’m not doing no shows for two months.’”
So, looking for reliable income and new fans, Davido is making arrangements outside of Nigeria. In January, he flies to New York to finalize a deal with Sony Music Global, which will release his much-anticipated second album, tentatively titled Baddest. Davido has already spent two years and around $1 million of his own money on the record, and the timing seems right. “There is a massive renaissance going on,” says Ugwu, pointing to the international success of OMI’s “Cheerleader” as an indicator of fans’ widening tastes. “There’s interest. Music is traveling.”
For any Nigerian artist with international ambitions, the pressure to succeed is amplified by a fear that global audiences might not welcome more than one African star at a time. And even that’s not guaranteed—Davido tells me a story about a time before the ultimate demise of D’banj’s G.O.O.D. Music deal, when Kanye West called D’banj producer Don Jazzy, already wildly successful in Nigeria, into a tiny, uncomfortable room with 20 other producers. “I don’t want that to be me,” he says. “I wanna be that one African nigga, where it’s like, ‘Call that African nigga. Let’s get him on the hook.’”
That sense of competition underlies a long-running feud between Davido and Wizkid, former friends and collaborators turned rivals, who have spent the past few years subliminally dissing each other in songs and across social media. “Me and Wizkid, we’re the best,” says Davido. “If one telecoms comes to me, the other one will go meet him. If Coke comes to me, Pepsi goes to him. Whether or not it’s true, they make it feel like it can only be one of us. I think there’s enough for all of us to eat, but then sometimes it can feel like only one person will win.”
Wizkid, 25, is perceived as a kid from the hood who made his way to the top on his own, a story admired in a country where hustle is a virtue and a survival tactic. Davido, on the other hand, is respected for his smart choices: working as his own A&R for years before he was in the major label system, he’s enlisted the help of songwriters in a country where they’re not commonly used, aligned himself with an experienced management team, and released an unabating string of singles to stay relevant between albums. “My business decisions, they’re not by accident,” Davido says. “I have a father that’s made billions [of Naira]. When he tells me, ‘Make this move,’ I listen to him.” But that can also backfire. For all his popularity, Davido’s family money and custody battle have also made him an avatar for what some consider wrong with modern Nigerian society: the dissolution of traditional values and a culture that favors the rich while the poor get poorer.
Over the four days I spend with him, Davido weaves between Yoruba, Pidgin, and American-accented, slang-filled English. He talks to his sister about which pink outfit his daughter should be dressed in, records greetings for his Snapchat followers, and breaks bread with a club-owning entrepreneur, code-switching effortlessly through all of it. As comfortable on the subject of local witchcraft as he is talking about the upcoming U.S. election, he comes off as a natural representative for all people who can claim a handful of places as home at the same time. Davido recognizes that there are listeners worldwide who, like him, belong to multiple cultures. People who instinctively see themselves through the eyes of others, and must cut through the stereotypes they know they’ll be measured against. Which is why, when I ask him whether or not the world is ready for a Nigerian superstar, he shrugs and laughs. “Of course they’re ready,” he says. “They just might not know what that’s going to look like.”