Afrobeats and music originating from Africa have seen a renaissance over the last decade with many artists now not only topping charts on the continent but globally. One of the key factors has been artists creating a distinctly African sound rather than trying to imitate artists from the US or UK. For this to continue the music industry in Africa needs improved infrastructure so that new artists can break through and develop authentically. One Afrobeats superstar who has led this renaissance for almost a decade and is now also bringing through the next generation of Afrobeats superstars is Davido.
Davido’s foray into music wasn’t a natural one. Nobody in his immediate family had been a musician but in his teens, he developed a passion for music with his cousins B-Red and Sina Rambo. He initially started producing music for other people but soon after started performing on the tracks himself. As this passion developed he made a bold decision to drop out of college to pursue music full time, a decision which did not go down well with his parents. He continued perfecting his sound and the turning point came when he released the single “Dami Duro” in 2011 “the song blew up and took over Africa” he recalls. The success of the song gave his parents reassurance that this could be a viable career and approved his music as long as he later finished a degree. This gave him the impetus to work even harder to make it work and he graduated from Babcock University in Ogun State Nigeria with a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Music in 2015 whilst continuing to produce music.
In the years that have followed Dami Duro “things have continued to go up and up” Davido says. He has released a list of songs that have consistently topped the charts and defined several cultural moments for Africans on the continent and in the diaspora. Endorsements have also rolled in as he had worked with many high profile brands including MTN ad Guinness Nigeria. However, despite all of this success and still being at the top, Davido’s origins in producing and breaking new artists has never left him. More recently he has set up his record label called DMW (Davido Music Worldwide) and his first major signing was Mayorkun.
Finding Mayorkun And Starting Davido Music Worldwide
Davido stumbled across Mayorkun whilst browsing through Twitter and seeing a video of him singing “if I didn’t pick up my phone that moment we never would have met, his talent was raw but as a fellow artist you could tell this guy had potential” he recalls. Davido asked him to send some songs over and he would get in touch. Whilst the profile was verified Mayorkun said “I wasn’t sure it was genuine given it was via social media” but he sent over 5 songs and waited for a response.
Davido got back from L.A. and the first thing he did when he got back was to get in touch with Mayorkun to come to his house. That night Mayorkun recorded his first song with Davido and moved in. Shortly after he resigned from his job at a bank “I would not have done it if it wasn’t for Davido” he says and they worked on his first album titled “The Mayor Of Lagos” under Davido’s music label DMW. The album was an acclaimed success receiving numerous awards and this success acted as the impetus for Davido to set up a more formal record label and since then they have signed artists such as Peruzzi and Dremo. Additionally, the duo continues to make music together with their recent hit Betty Butter reaching No1 in the charts in Nigeria.
Whilst it may seem as though Davido is doing these artists a favor he mentions that “people fail to understand you can’t be on top forever, having these artists helps me stay afloat and be current with new stuff”. He sees this as not only an opportunity to see the African music scene flourish as “it’s a beautiful time to be African” but also a way for him to learn from these young artists. DMW has a lot planned over the coming years and is certainly a record label to keep your eyes on.
This article is part of a series featuring diverse people making a difference. You can find more articles (click here) and if you have a story to tell or want to be updated as soon as new features are released message/follow me on Twitter @TommyASC91