“Africa is beautiful, but we don’t have the best leaders managing the economy”

Davido: 'I feel like [my father] recognized, 'He's gifted, so why stop his dream?' (Davido Music Worldwide)

Davido: ‘I feel like [my father] recognized, ‘He’s gifted, so why stop his dream?’ (Davido Music Worldwide)

When Davido was growing up, everyone expected him to join the family business. Her father, Adedeji Adeleke, is the CEO of Pacific Holdings Limited and one of the richest men in Nigeria, with an estimated net worth of around $700m (£625m). After finishing school, Davido was supposed to take up a seat on the council. “When I took the other route, at first it was really, really difficult,” the 29-year-old said from his home. in Lagos. That was over a decade ago.

His breakthrough hit “Dami Duro” came in 2011, a highlight of his debut album…Omo Baba Olowo. The conscious title of the album is Yoruba for “son of a rich man”. Even the rich man in question was impressed. “When I started releasing music and people really loved it, he became a crazy fan,” Davido says with obvious pride. “I feel like he acknowledged, ‘He’s gifted, so why stop his dream?’ At the end of the day, every parent wants their child to win.”…

For Davido, winning is like selling huge shows in arenas like London’s O2 and amassing over a billion streams of his second album, 2019’s…A good moment. The record refined and perfected its sunny, dynamic sound; a dancefloor-ready combination of jubilant party tunes and laid-back love songs. The swaying rhythms and irresistible melodies, combined with Davido’s easy charisma, captured the attention of the world. Tracking A better time, Released 12 months later, drew enjoyable guest appearances from  Nicki Minaj, Nas and Young Thug. He’s still working on the next one, saying its release has been pushed back to early next year. … Before that, there will be a single, “Flex My Soul”, in a few weeks. This is another great party song. “Do you know ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’?” he asks, referring to the massive success that made Ricky Martin a global star in 1999. “It’s like that, but an African version.”

These days, music is just one facet of Davido’s growing business empire. A few film and TV projects are underway, including a talent hunt game show designed to give young African footballers an international platform. Then there’s his label, Davido Music Worldwide, and a new collection with sportswear brand Puma. Oh, and he must be thinking of a birthday. “I’m going to be 30 soon,” he says. “It’s a lot!”

He briefly pretends to feel overwhelmed by it all, but his voice tells a different story. A prideful drive to dominate the world is part of Davido’s trademark mogul, and he has the exuberance and self-confidence to go with it. He has the magnetic charm that you might associate with a preacher or a politician. You can imagine it as either. In 2020, when the #EndSars protests against police brutality erupted in Nigeria, his song “FEM” (Yoruba for: “Shut Up!”) became an anthem when sung in front of leaders. Although it was not intended as a political statement, Davido used his influence to arrange a meeting with the country’s Inspector General of Police. He went there, he said, to convey “the message of the people”.

Outside Nigeria, Davido has become an ambassador for African culture. On November 18, three days before his birthday, he organized the first annual AWAY (Are We African Yet?) festival in Atlanta, Georgia. Davido was born in the city and turned his show at the State Farm Arena into a day of celebration of African art, clothing and food with a roster of rising Afrobeats stars. “I can tour the Davido arena 100 times,” he says. “But what will make a difference? Let me bring these boys. For a new genre like Afrobeats, you have to be united.

Atlanta quickly became the American home of Afrobeats. Last month, Nigerian music awards show The Headies came to town, the first time in its 15-year history that it took place outside Nigeria. . “It was amazing,” says Davido. “Even growing up, my family is known for giving back to the community. Africa is beautiful, but we obviously don’t have the best leaders running the economy. God has blessed us, so we try to do what we can to reach out and help people from time to time. »

To illustrate his largesse, Davido tells a story that winds through a breathtaking extravaganza before arriving at a happy ending. The occasion was his birthday this time last year. He had decided he wanted a Patek Philippe watch and organized a bank account where his friends pooled their money to help buy this extravagant gift. “I woke up after a long night,” he recalls. “I think I went to the club, so I was a bit hungover. I was like, ‘I’m about to tweet my account number.’ »…

He posted his social media account number, this time asking fans to help pay to get his Rolls Royce out of customs. “In Nigeria, if a car costs around $500,000 and you ship it, it costs another $300,000 to clear it,” he complains. “It’s crazy.” We can all feel his pain. Davido has since claimed he meant the call playfully, but fans across the country were only too happy to send him money. He ended up with 250m naira in the account, or around £450,000. “Everyone sent money,” he says. “Probably the whole country.” Davido called his father: “Shout out to my Pops, he’s my mentor. He said, ‘You know we can’t keep this money?’ Instead, he gave it all away to Nigerian orphanages. “It took a long time because we had so many people sending fake orphanages,” he says. “You know how it is! It took two months to send people to each orphanage to check them out.”…

Davido and Trinidad Cardona perform in Qatar during the 2022 World Cup draw (Karim Jaafar/AFP via Getty Images)

Davido and Trinidad Cardona perform in Qatar during the 2022 World Cup draw (Karim Jaafar/AFP via Getty Images)

After his festival, Davido will travel to Qatar for the World Cup. Earlier this year, he collaborated with American singer Trinidad Cardona and Qatari singer Aisha on ‘Hayya Hayya (Better Together)’, which FIFA says will only be the ‘first single from the official Cup soundtrack’. FIFA World Cup 2022″. So Davido is in line for prime tickets. He’s far too ably professional to be drawn to the controversial decision to stage the competition there in the first place. “Qatar is a beautiful place for me,” he says. “I was there to shoot the video. Personally, I haven’t had a bad experience, so I can’t really comment on that.

Nigeria will not take part in the World Cup after failing to beat Ghana in a qualifying game in March. “But I will be there!” jokes Davido. “I qualified!” Who will he root for? “Certainly any African country,” he says. “I’m not going to choose, but if there is an African country left, I will definitely support it.” …said like a true politician.

The AWAY Festival will take place at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia on November 18…

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