These days, no party or club night is complete without the latest hit song from this 19-year-old. David Adedeji Adeleke, better known as Davido, is a bit of a wunderkind, having been in the music game for six years already. He stopped by Nigerian Entertainment Today’s offices to talk about his background, why he doesn’t see Wizkid as his competition, and why he didn’t ‘Occupy Nigeria’.
Who was David before Davido?
Before I did music, I was into music, being around the industry, always in the studio. It was something I always wanted to do. But now that I’m in the operations, it comes naturally to me; when I go for shows, I don’t really think about the money. I’m going there to entertain, to make people dance and make them happy. It’s a good feeling that when people see you, they get happy. I’m happy as well that I’m doing what I love.
Where were you born?
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A
You grew up there?
No. I was born there and moved back to Nigeria when I was like two years old. When I was about 16, I went back to the U.S for like a year, then later came back to write the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) exam.
Which part of Lagos did you grow up?
I grew up in Lagos, Ikeja, GRA, then moved to the Island in 2005.
How many are you in your family?
Five and I am the last. I have two sisters, two brothers.
When did you start music production?
I started producing when I was 13. I began from being a studio rat to recording songs; that was at Enough Records Studio at Ikota shopping complex, then moved to other places.
How long have you been producing music officially?
It’s going to be a year in March.
Which instruments do you play?
I used to play the saxophone but now I’m on the keyboard.
How interested are your parents in your music career?
I’m the first person in my family, my generation that has gone into music. My mom passed away; my dad kept saying I needed to go back to school. But really, it was when ‘Dami duro‘ dropped that he knew I was serious with music. With ‘Back When’, I was doing shows upon shows; he thought it was serious but not really. I performed ‘ Dami duro ‘ at my sister’s show in December, which he attended, the crowd was massive. I sang to him and everything.
Before ‘Back when‘ which other songs had you released?
I did a recording with one of my cousins, MP. We were both pushing it then, but it didn’t work out. ‘Back when‘ was the first song I released, I dropped it when I was in London.
What made you come back to Nigeria?
Some of my friends advised me to come back, that they were making money and that the music industry in Nigeria is easier to penetrate. I had fun over there, I had money but there was no passion. I was determined to start something, no matter my age.
How did you hook up with your manager Asa Asika?
We’ve been friends before high school, I told him my plans. He was just helping me at first then I later hooked up with him, then he became my manager and we pushed things.
People are comparing you to Wizkid, how do you see this comparison, and do you see him as a competitor?
I’m actually with him most of the time. We sometimes talk about it, laugh about it; we go on Twitter and look at blogs. I don’t know why people weigh us together. I don’t believe in turn by turn; Why can’t Wizkid have a number one song in Abuja and I have another one in Port Harcourt or somewhere else and everyone carries it together; no competition as such. I see him as a colleague, maybe if I didn’t know him personally; but I do. We are even planning some things together, so cool.
How do you feel about the buzz surrounding you?
It’s fast and crazy. When I came out, apart from Wizkid’s album that was out then, which was hot, there wasn’t really much music releases. So I was like let me use that advantage. I know that I had good music so I went back to the studio, worked in some stuff, came out with ‘Back When’, and shot the video. I had support even from Wizkid, Naeto C, D’banj and some others.
What inspires you to make music?
The streets. People look at me like this guy’s dad is rich and stuff. Even the ‘Dami duro‘ song, I got the inspiration from one of my guys on the streets. They usually call me ‘Omo baba olowo’. Most of my songs all have Yoruba in it, I want to confuse them. People look at me like I don’t have to do what I’m doing but it’s not about whose money but your money; it’s about my dream; it’s about doing my own thing.
Which artistes have inspired you over the years?
The likes of Mo’Hits, Wizkid, D’banj, Wande Coal and Flavour. Hopefully, we are going to do some crazy work this year; 2012, no play.
A lot of people like your song; how are you reacting to the reception?
It’s been crazy. I can’t do a lot of things I used to do anymore. I can’t even go to Shoprite; it’s like a gift and a curse at the same time. When I got into the game at first, I was like I just want to be there, I don’t want to blow but when everything bloomed, I was like, wow, I thank God. My first major break was at the Music Meets Runway show and from there I built on it. Before, when I went for shows, I’d wonder if people would like the song, but now it’s normal.
Your stage presence is quite different from other fast rising artists. How did you develop it?Even before ‘Back when‘, all the shows I’ve had I’ve been always the same way, even if people don’t know the song, an entertainer should be able to go somewhere and rock it. There’s a difference between being an artiste and an entertainer. D’banj , Psquare, Wizkid and the likes are entertainers that’s why they are up there. I love people who make good music in Nigeria, and shoot good videos but I feel like this whole thing is in-built. I’m sure with all this things I have, if I don’t have this confidence, I won’t be where I am today. It’s not always all about the song; some people have big songs, but don’t do shows.
Could you say having money has helped make your career bigger?
I don’t believe that; if I go on that route, they will suck me out because they will think that there’s a lot. There are many people I approached at my beginning stages; I introduced myself to them and all but… now they are like, ‘you are my boy’. In the industry, I’m not looking at anybody; I’m going on my own. If you don’t like me, you don’t; anyone that does well, I give them their credit.
Girls, Girls, Girls…tell us about them
No major girl for now. I’m just having fun. If I do meet a girl, now will be the time to log on/off. I’ve not really seen anyone for now; I’m on my hustle, on my drive.
What about school?
I’m studying Business Administration, 300 Level in Babcock University.
How are you managing school and music?
How do your lecturers treat you?
They bug me a lot. Sometimes, they intentionally try to test me like, ‘oh, I’m going to pick on this dude today’. I laugh with them and sometimes I’m like those are my fans. To me, it doesn’t matter. I just have to do what I have to do.
Do you think if you weren’t the one producing your music, you would still make hits?
Being my own producer helps a lot because I can produce exactly what I want. Even if I’m not the producer, I can tell a producer exactly what I want but I will take it to my studio, rearrange the whole thing and make some changes.
Do you miss your mum?
Yeah, I do. I was young though but I’m sure if she was here, she will be rocking all the songs.
What’s your relationship with your dad?
It’s very good. I go over to see him from time to time.
What’s your stand on the subsidy issue?
Well, the people voted him in, if they double the price, triple your hustle.
You weren’t at Ojota during the protest?
I felt I couldn’t go there to sing ‘emi omo baba olowo’, to me I feel some of the artistes that went there to sing, did that to promote their albums not for the right reasons. Why do you have to dress up, take a picture, upload on twitter and tweet, I’m at Ojota. Why don’t you share your money or buy fuel and share it or just do something that will touch the people.
What’s one word that describes Davido?
Different; if I’m in a room with stars that are bigger than I am, I will stand out. I don’t care, I could jump in the crowd, my facial expressions are different, and my shows are different.
When can we expect a full album?
For now, I’m not really working on an album but on songs and hits. I’m sure this year, not particular about the date, but there will be something. My fans are going to get tired of me, trust me. I have plans; I’m working on some international stuff. We also have about three marketers already.