For the crown prince of Afrobeats, it never rains; it POURS.
For some years now, David Adeleke (known to his teeming fans across the globe as Davido) has bestridden the Nigerian pop music landscape like a colossus. The ongoing and exhilarating story of contemporary Nigerian music would be incomplete without a robust mention of his name, his prolific output, and his immense contributions to the evolution of the burgeoning Afrobeats genre in particular – including his active and frequent ‘collabos’ with other artistes, established and upcoming ones alike.
Though born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, Davido does not fit into the neat stereotype of the ‘pampered prince’ who has everything handed to him on a platter. His father, Adedeji Adeleke is a billionaire industrialist, the President of Adeleke University and CEO of Pacific Holdings Ltd, while the current Governor of Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke, is his uncle. And yet, when it comes to pushing the boundaries of his chosen profession, defining the still amorphous essence of the Afrobeats genre, and exploring the limits of his own talents and physical ability, Davido is as hungry as they come. Not for him the complacency that the attainment of celebrity status sometimes engengers – whose penalty can be the loss of inspiration (due to a disconnect with its sources) and the consequent dearth of motivation, and whose baggage can sometimes include drug and alcohol addiction, troubled relationships, an obsession with tattoos, a procession of Baby Mamas, and (in some cases) the dire prospect of involvement with the underworld and an untimely demise.
Davido is no Affluenza Kid; unlike many of his generational contemporaries, he seems immune to the paralysing hangover of inherited wealth and the luxury it can buy, or to that almost fatalistic sense of entitlement that has derailed many of them from their true destiny. Like DJ Cuppy, the daughter of another billionaire magnate, Femi Otedola, Davido’s success puts a lie to the conventional wisdom that the offspring of the super-rich are either not gifted with enough creative talent (as if to ‘punish’ them for being born into such sumptuous privilege) or simply cannot function optimally in pursuits like music (or the arts in general) which depends on a certain level of creative hunger and even angst.
In spite of his stature in the Afrobeats firmament, however, Davido can be forgiven for harbouring a sense of being passed over for an affirmation that has, in recent years, captured the imagination of artistes around the globe and become an aspirational focus especially for ambitious young artists keen to stamp their footprints in an increasingly globalised musical industry, and in the effort to reach and enjoy the patronage of an ever-growing digital streaming audience.
From its beginnings as an institution recognizing the best output in American music spanning a variety of genres in a given year, the Grammy Awards have evolved into the most prestigious and significant awards in the global music ecosystem. .It is a recognition whose scope and influence extends well beyond the boundaries of its traditional cultural milieu. Known simply as the Grammys, the Awards are presented by the Recording Academy of the United States to recognize outstanding achievements in the music industry. Originally called the Gramophone Awards, because the trophy is in the shape of a gilded gramophone, the Grammys were established in 1959, with the first award ceremony held on May 4 of that year.
Since 2011, there has been a constant – indeed annual – expansion of award categories well beyond the traditional American fare such as jazz, country, rhythm and blues, etc. In fact, the upcoming Annual Grammy Awards in 2024, the 66th in the series, will feature a total of 94 categories – many of them representing musical traditions originating from well beyond America’s borders and far removed from its Anglo-Saxon and Latino musical heritage.
Among these new categories is the award for Best African Performance, which is making its debut next year. And after years of standing outside the Grammy radar, like the proverbial outsider who was invited to a party but not allowed to dance (even as compatriots like Burna Boy scooped up awards for ‘World Music’ performances) Davido is set to step into the Grammy limelight in a big way, following his nomination for … not one, not two, but THREE awards – namely, Best Global Album for the song, “Timeless,”; Best African Performance for “Unavailable;” and Best Global Music Performance for “Feel.”
In his reaction to the news of his multiple nominations, Davido was understandably philosophical about the timing of this recognition, and its significance. ‘Delay, ‘ he wrote on his social media account, ‘is not denial.’ Coming on the heels of the recent birth of his twin babies with wife Chioma, this tentative recognition must feel as if the singer, his family and his team have entered into a new season of favour and blessing. Just as these little bundles of joy will hopefully banish the anguish the Adelekes felt with the tragic passing of their son, Ifeanyi (a tragedy that elicited an outpouring of grief and condolences among the singer’s fans and other well-wishers) Davido fans across and beyond the shores of Nigeria will hope that the latest recognition would restore the star to the mainstream of global recognition and end his sojourn in the Grammy wilderness.
With the 2024 nominations, Davido joins other Nigerian fellow-nominees for the Best African Music Performance category such as Asake, Ayra Starr and perennial favorite Burna Boy. Asake is tapped for his song, ‘Amapiano’ (featuring Olamide). Burna Boy is in contention for ‘City Boys,’ while the sassy new sensation, Ayra Star received the Grammy nod for ‘Rush’. Also in the frame for the award is the South African breakout star, Tyla, for her hit single, ‘Water.’ They join a plethora of nominees – among them industry icons – set to be honoured at the 2024 event, set to take place at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, California, USA on Sunday, February 4, 2024.
There’s a saying that ‘Patience is a virtue that carries a lot of WAIT.’ While one can be amused at the mis-spelling of the word ‘WEIGHT’, one is also intrigued by the truism that the most important ingredient of patience is the ability – nay, the willingness – to WAIT. Indeed, the creative process, as Davido himself can probably testify, involves not just the inspiration the artist needs to create original work, nor the technical ability and craftsmanship needed to execute the work or art, but also the ability and willingness to deploy the attribute of patience and the art of waiting to good effect.
They also say all good things come to those who wait. One can add to that, the corollary that even BETTER things come to those who PREPARE while they wait. Waiting, for whatever reason, can be a painful affair – especially when we don’t know for how long we have to wait, and we cannot control or influence the sequence of events that need to take place for the realization of that cherished dream. But beyond the pain of waiting – at least according to those who have gone through and then transcended that pain – is that it confers a whole lot of benefits, which may be intangible at first glance, but are no less real, no less a source of pleasure.
Waiting itself doesn’t accomplish much. We must prepare ourselves in anticipation of the thing waited for, as if we have already sensed its approach, like that of an august visitor. That kind of active waiting’ is based on FAITH. “My whole life,” wrote the English playwright Tom Stoppard, “is waiting for the questions to which I have already prepared answers.”
The same can be said of Nigeria’s crown prince of Afrobeats. His has been no idle wait. And who can say that his waiting to be admitted into the rarefied atmosphere of the Grammys has not been worth it? His affirmation, when it finally arrived, came not in a single instance – but in THREE categories – as if to make for lost time.