IN CONVERSATION WITH DAVIDO
interview by MAREK BARTEK
In 2023, Davido has cemented his position as a global force within music. Often called ‘The King of Afrobeats’, Davido has been a forerunner in connecting the world to Afrobeats. In November, Davido received three nominations for the upcoming Grammy Awards, which marks his first Grammy nominations. In 2023, he also launched the first ever A.W.A.Y. Festival (Are We African Yet), which’s mission is to unite communities, promote collaboration and celebrate the diversity and magic of African music and culture, and is an opportunity to build coalition between Africa and the world.
Your album ‘Timeless’ has broken several records, becoming biggest African album in Apple Music history by first-day streams worldwide, and it reached no. 2 on Apple Music’s US Albums chart, a new record for an African album. Can you tell us more about this album? What was your creative process behind it?
I’m proud of ‘Timeless’ and the reaction from fans and critics. It’s a blessing. I wanted to create an album that celebrated African sounds and artists. An album that you could listen to today and love, but you could also listen to in 10 years and it would still feel fresh. That’s why I called it ‘Timeless’. The process of this album was different for me. Typically I go to studio and there are many folks hanging out and vibing, but with ‘Timeless’ I really stripped down the creative process to myself and my producers. ‘Timeless’ was a very pure process of writing, recording and producing, and I feel it shows. To see the album so loved is truly gratifying.
eyewear SAINT LAURENT
jacket, shirt and trousers 4SDESIGNS
shoes EDWARD CUMING
Your albums ‘A Better Time’ and ‘Timeless’ have both been a hit, earning great reviews. How do you feel your music has evolved from one album to the other?
I think every artist evolves and their music reflects what they are feeling at the time. So, sure my music has evolved from ‘A Better Time’. With each project you evolve, you try different beats, collaborate with different artists. But despite that, my music will always be Davido, meaning my music will always be rooted in my culture and the energy of Africa. When people listen to my music, I want them to feel upbeat and to celebrate, and that will never change.
How do you think the above mentioned achievements influence the global recognition of Afrobeats?
It’s good to see the many talented Afrobeats artists getting recognition. It helps us all. Am I glad that this year the Grammys are recognizing Afrobeats as a separate category? Yes, and I’m honored to be nominated, but I also think we still have a way to go. If the success of my music helps pave the way for future talented African artists, then that’s a good thing for sure.
shirt WALES BONNER
t-shirt and jeans TAIGA TAKAHASHI
As an artist, there are many different genres one can dive into. What made you fall in love and inspires you to make Afrobeats music?
Going to school in the US I was influenced by so many types of music. I love rap, I love R&B music. When I graduated college, I was so influenced by the greats of rap from a style perspective, I seriously thought I would become a rapper. But something inside kept telling me “Go back home, be authentic, represent your culture, that is what will make you different” and so I did.
In November, you launched the A.W.A.Y Festival. Could you tell us more about this event and the reasons you have decided to organise it?
I decided to start A.W.A.Y festival as a cultural exchange between Africa and the rest of the world, exchange of our music, food, art. For me, it’s about making sure that we leverage our platforms to put ourselves out there and lift others up. A.W.A.Y festival allows us to spotlight new and emerging talent from Africa, while also showcasing the biggest acts from the continent.
Would you say that the way the event turned out fulfilled your expectations and what you hoped it would be?
We sold out the State Farm Arena in a day, and so we couldn’t be prouder of how the event turned out. It exceeded all our expectations. We started in Atlanta because that is my hometown and the first place we wanted to do a festival in, but I want to continue to expand it to other cities and other parts of the world.
The ‘Unavailable’ dance challenge on TikTok was hugely popular, with over 100 million videos. How does it feel to see your music inspiring such a wide audience and what role do platforms like TikTok play in promoting your work?
TikTok is great, I was blown away by how crazy the ‘Unavailable’ dance challenge became. To see folks like Rihanna and all the little kids, moms, people all over the world creating dances and posting their videos was truly amazing. TikTok is a great way for artists to reach new audiences.
coat and jeans PDF
t-shirt LUKE VICIOUS
Your sold-out tours in the US and internationally have been undoubtedly a success. What has been the most memorable moment from these tours?
The most memorable part of the tour was to be able to see the fans again. Covid was tough, but to look out and see all the faces, singing every word, and the energy was amazing. I loved it and just want to keep going. I just announced my first show at Madison Square Garden for April 2024 and will be playing the O2 in London again in January. So, more touring to come in 2024.
What can we expect from you in the near future? Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations that you are particularly excited about and can share with us?
We are just getting started. Fans can expect more music, more collaborations, more touring. 2024 is going to be an incredible year.
suit and shirt DIESEL
photography RAUL ROMO
styling BLAKE HARDY
grooming MORGAN MARINOFF
editor TIMOTEJ LETONJA
editorial director JANA LETONJA
interview MAREK BARTEK
cover design ARTHUR ROELOFFZEN
shot by NLA STUDIOS