There’s so much to Davido that people simply don’t understand. From a young age, Davido understood that coming from money into the music industry meant that whilst he could afford more studio time, he would have to graft 10 times harder than the next aspiring artist to earn the respect of his peers. Davido would have to work his way from the top of hill and meet the masses in their natural habitat; speak a language they understood, as it were. Because in the world of music, even money doesn’t guarantee success.
So, it’s important we get one thing clear. The man you see bordering private jets, wilding out in the music videos and promoting commercial brands on Instagram, is Davido. The loving father, social leader, philanthropist, the self-motivated hustler; well, that’s David Adeleke. And the man behind both these versions can alternate as effortlessly as one turns on a light switch. David Adeleke aka Davido is a true artist, a pioneer of his era. The evolution of his craft and the longevity of a successful career spanning over 10 years, is ode to the talent, creativity and ability to cross continents and introduce territories to the infectious sound of new-age Afrobeats. To Davido it’s not just a job, it’s a responsibility.
He’s leading conversations in the fight against SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) in Lagos, Nigeria, rallying celebrities to show their support against corruption and brutality, promoting unsigned artists, spreading the sounds of Nigerian music far beyond the realms of Africa. What makes these contributions so noteworthy is the fact that none of Davido’s success to date has ever been dependent on these achievements. Much like his music, he’s in constant search of self-improvement and judges his success by what he’s able to give back. Not his Instagram likes.
When it’s all said and done, people will have to remember Davido for the way he made the lives of those around him better. It takes a certain level of patriotism, love and passion to do even half of what this 28-year-old man has been able to achieve so far, and by the sounds of it, Davido is just getting started. Soon enough, Davido will get back to what Davido does best, selling out shows, collaborating with the world’s most recognised artists and shutting shit down. But you’d be at a massive loss to assume that was all Davido represented. Having studied business administration at Oakwood University in Alabama at the age of 16, he explored outside of his home country at a young age. He tells VIPER about the journey so far.
So who is Davido?
Record producer. Artist. Father. Son. Brother. The last kid of five who grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. I grew up fast but it’s been a great journey. Not from a musical background either, you could say I’m a first-generation artist.
How does Davido the artist differ from David Adeleke, the son, the father and the man?
There is a small difference; the way I carry myself with my dad, for example. Likewise, when I’m with my kids because you always want to give them, your family, that level of respect and before I was Davido, I was David. But being an artist is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle too. Even when I have live shows, only my sister would generally come backstage because my family are aware that they are witnessing Davido, not David.
What are your earliest memories of music?
The parties at home, my mum loved entertaining and parties. Any small occasion was a call for celebration; Easter and graduations to birthdays and Boxing Day. There were always people, music and dancing in the compound. This was probably when I first fell in love with music and entertainment, even though I didn’t consider being a musician at that time. Over the years, growing up watching my favourite entertainers on the TV was when I truly began to feel inspired to create. When I was about 13 or 14 was when I felt that music was something that I could do.
Everything is such a celebration in Nigeria!
That’s our culture! In Nigeria, when you live past a certain age, you should be celebrated. My friend recently buried his mum and it was basically a carnival.
To read the rest of this interview, purchase a copy of our Summer 2021 issue.
Words by Victor Davies
Photos by Shamshawan Scott