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Davido: ‘I got in a lot of trouble, so I had to leave Nigeria’

By Jaysim Hanspal
Posted on Friday, 1 October 2021 07:45

Davido and Trevor Noah
Nigerian singer Davido talks to South Africa Trevor Noah on The Daily Show

South African comedian and host of The Daily Show Trevor Noah interviewed Nigerian-American artist Davido, marking his growing popularity in the US. And the cultural supremacy of Afrobeats worldwide.

Currently, Davido, real name David Adedeji Adeleke, has over three and a half million followers on Spotify and is one of the artists responsible for bringing Afrobeats to the global stage. At the age of 28, he has an estimated net worth of $25 million.

Talking to Noah about his first contract with Sony in 2016, the artist said, “I told them, you guys might not understand now, but in a couple of years this is going to be one of the biggest genres in the world.”

For Noah, Davido’s rise to fame has cured the “inferiority complex” that he says he always felt towards American pop culture. Noah said, “we were like, oh America is better than us, the UK is better; everything was better than us in Africa.”

Nigeria has always been a hub for innovative breakout artists like Fela Kuti in the ‘70s, and with rappers like Falz, Afrobeats has been used to draw attention to the country’s experience of political corruption, terrorism, and abuse of power. Now popular around the world, the genre has the power to draw global attention to issues affecting African nations like Nigeria.

For the Nigerian diaspora – reports estimate that there are 1.24 million migrants from Nigeria in the global diaspora – artists like Davido are a celebration of their cultural heritage and are a way to connect them with their culture. On Instagram, Davido is the second most followed African with 21.2 million followers. His song ‘Fall’ became the longest-charting Nigerian song in the Billboard charts, spending four weeks there.

Davido says it is the love that the diaspora has for his music that ultimately led to his success. “It started from Atlanta and New York, Nigerians telling the DJ in the club, “Yo I want to spend $50,000 today, but play Davido’s music when my bottles are coming out,” he said.

Davido may not have not struggled much growing up. His father, a Nigerian billionaire, initially financed his education in Alabama, before he dropped out and became the only graduating student of music from Adeleke University, an institution owned by his father.

But has been engaging more with the struggles faced by the average Nigerian. His popular song “Fem” gained new importance after the murder of George Floyd gained worldwide attention and was caught up in the End Sars movement in Nigeria. The movement against police brutality focused on the disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a group notorious for allegations of unwarranted stop and searches, arrests without warrants, and extortion of young males.

Davido said, “it’s amazing how I saw my voice be an instrument for people. I got in a lot of trouble, so I had to leave the country.” In October, after the song which had originally become an anthem for his haters became the End Sars soundtrack, the artist himself joined protesters in Abuja, as police used teargas and rubber bullets on the protesters.

He said, “they listened, they heard us. They might not have changed anything, but they were shook. I see a lot of young future leaders coming up – things are gonna change.”

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