Music is way beyond words and harmonies. Music is a time warp, taking you back to different eras in your life, it's also a global passport, allowing you to tap into different cultures and rhythms, without getting on a plane. Six years ago, a new sound infiltrated rap and pop music. With an upbeat twang, layered drums and synth, Afrobeats, a genre originating in West Africa made its way into the West and it wasn't long before our biggest artists began experimenting with the sound. Drake accidentally took credit for popularizing it and Beyoncé recorded an entire album of Afrobeats with the release of Lion King: The Gift in 2019.
There's no one doing it bigger than Davido, a Nigerian artist who grew up in Atlanta and has brought Afrobeats to the west by collaborating with a roster of hip hop and R&B artists from Young Thug to Summer Walker. He's a lothario with a soothing singing voice that wraps itself into the beat. He's braggadocio in his lyrics - on par with any rapper, he's a young father of three, the son of a billionaire, and one of the most well known Nigerian artists all over the world.
VELLUM: You’re touring after the release of A Good Time. How does it feel to be performing for fans post-album?
I just have to say thanks for all the support they've given me over the years. I call myself half American, and I grew up half in Lagos and half in Atlanta. I've always seen myself as a guy who bridges the gap, so I'm here trying to play people African music and get people into the vibe. When I was growing up here, it wasn't cool to be African. So now, for it to be so popular and for me to be a pioneer in the culture and movement, as an African it's an amazing feeling to be selling out these cities.
Your music connects with audiences around the world, West African influences are there but it doesn't feel like “World Music” it feels relatable. It feels familiar. Why is that?
I know how to relate to people from North America and I know how to relate to people from Africa. I feel like that has been very important and has helped me in my career. I say all the time African music is just is natural: from the instrumentals, the drums, the music as a whole. In this genre we don't use samples, and you just feel the beat no matter where you are, in the club or wherever you are. I love hip-hop. I love trap. I love all those genres but once you hear some African beats I feel like the feeling is different.
How do you practice self care?
My "self" is in music. I don't really make time for myself, it's all in the music and that's the job I do 24/7 and I'm happy.
A Good Time feels so cohesive and tells a story, why did you feel compelled to create in this way and not release an album of singles?
This is my sophomore album but I've always been releasing singles, always. I’m that guy that just releases singles off the jump. I make a song today and I'm like "yo fuck that, I wanna drop that shit. It's not like I'm an album type of guy, but I feel like the way Afrobeats is going right now I felt like I had to make a body of work and bring artists from Nigeria, and link artists from America.
Was there a moment where you realized you've manifested your desires?
I don't think there's one moment where you realize that and go “I’ve made it”. I feel like different occasions and different situations that you go through in your life brings all of those elements. It's a series of things, like the people you help, the culture you've created. The people you empower through music alone, being from Africa has those elements.
How you balance your responsibilities as an artist as a dad as a partner. Can you find a balance?
God bless my kids. I've got three kids, two daughters, and a son. I’m getting married in June. I feel like my occupation, I take it away from my kids. I don't bring that around my kids at all. My eldest daughter is probably more well known than me, she's amazing. My second daughter Hailey is a superstar, she looks just like me. I feel like she's going to be an entertainer. And then my third child is my first son David, I named him after me. Being a musician is separate, that's my occupation, that's a job that I'm doing. I'm happy with my kids' mothers, they are very responsible ladies and I know that they’re in good hands when I leave with my kids with them and that lets me do my job.