Six Takeaways From Davido's 'Timeless' Album
Six things you need to know from the Nigerian superstar’s fourth studio album, 'Timeless.'
At the start of this year, a new Davido album was mainly a matter of speculation. Even as the singer indicated a March drop back in December, the personal events surrounding that announcement made the singer’s return quite the tenuous affair. Last October, David Adeleke suffered the heartbreaking loss of his 3-year-old son. In his decade-plus run as an Afrobeats superstar, Davido has publicly grieved the deaths of several close friends, but this loss was the most grueling and he receded from public view.
In the months that followed, there were Davido sightings but his appearance often lacked the wide grin and vivacious antics he’s come to be known and beloved for. Even during Nigeria’s recently concluded elections, the usually outspoken artist laid low. But each time his name came up it was shrouded in a haze of genuine love from fans. That’s why, when the visual trailer for Timeless hit social media just over a week before its release, the reaction across timelines was collective joy.
Accompanied by an open letter read aloud by the singer, the narrative going into Timeless was one of rediscovering bliss. “Thank God I am grounded by your love, which is timeless,” Davido says in the trailer, gesturing at the communal warmth he’s received over the years and in the last few months in particular. Released on the last day of March as scheduled, here are six talking points from the album.
Davido is “OVER DEM”
Davido is a master at kicking off his albums on emphatic terms. Whether that’s throwing down a gauntlet with “All of You” on his debut album, Omo Baba Olowo: The Genesis, shrugging off derogatory propaganda on A Good Time’s “Intro,” or addressing beef head-on with A Better Time’s “FEM.” The trend continues on his fourth LP with “OVER DEM,” a breezy and incredibly effective reiteration of his status as Nigerian pop’s number-one name. “If dem dey wait to see me flop/dem go wait till thy kingdom come,” he sings on the second verse, a stellar example of the memorable, caption-ready lines that give the song its authoritative candour.
Davido - OVER DEM (Official Audio)www.youtube.com
Amapiano, Naijapiano & more ‘piano
Timeless is littered with all of the colourful and groovy musical choices you would expect from a Davido album. As Nigeria’s great pop-synthesiser, the singer has proven stock in co-opting diverse influences and capitalising on trending sounds. While there are songs that lean into dancehall, reggaeton, and highlife, the driving force for a significant portion of this album is amapiano, the dance music subgenre that originated from and is consistently being evolved by South Africans.
In the four years since amapiano crossed over to Nigeria, it’s been co-opted at a prolific rate, with Davido being one of its more wholesome and exciting adopters. In early 2021, he collaborated with Focalistic and the continental hit remix of the SA rapper’s “Ke Star,” extending their working relationship to the instantly ubiquitous “Champion Sound,” which features as the closing song on Timeless. Across the album, sparkling piano chords and rattling log drums are employed, either as the core of the track (“FEEL”) or serving as embellishment to the gossamer feel of “IN THE GARDEN” or the konto groove of “PRECISION” — the former even features an adlib that references the 2022 ‘piano smash hit, “uMlando.”
Davido, Focalistic - Champion Sound (Official Video)www.youtube.com
Timeless is for the dancefloors
Davido doesn’t hide the fact that he largely makes music for communal purposes, preferably moments with ecstasy at the centre. That form doesn’t break on Timeless, a project with more than its fair share of dancefloor-ready bangers. Already making the rounds on TikTok as a potential viral hit, the Musa Keys-assisted “UNAVAILABLE” features the sort of anthemic hook you could yell along with friends and strangers on a night out. That’s just one example of the many songs with memorable lines and colourful beats that’ll get bodies rolling and shoulders shimmying. It wouldn’t be surprising to hear “AWAY,” “BOP” and “GODFATHER” become fixtures on DJ set lists in the coming weeks.
Timeless is also for the lovers
A little underappreciated amidst the high praise he gets for being a premium hitmaker, is the fact that Davido has an admirable catalogue of love songs—some of them utterly essential in the Afrobeats canon. “IF” and “Fall,” the two 2017 singles that greatly helped his charge into global superstardom, are representative of this. That’s not even mentioning classics like 2014’s “Aye” and “Assurance,” the ode to his current partner.
Timeless coins in on that supreme ability to make infatuation-themed bops, with affectionate performances on songs like “FEEL” and the Asake-assisted “NO COMPETITION.” On “E PAIN ME,” which hearkens to the pon-pon sound of the mid-2010s, the singer performs from the perspective of the jilted, adding a relatable touch of inclusivity for the lovelorn as well.
Davido - NO COMPETITION (Official Audio) ft. Asakewww.youtube.com
A diverse supporting cast adds even more colour
Across his albums, and even as an integral part of his person, Davido has shown himself to be an enthusiastic collaborator. The ten credited guest artists on Timeless hover around the same number of features from his last two albums (11 and 13 respectively), and they’re arguably the best-curated appearances on a Davido album. In these collaborations, the singer finds synergy by alternately ceding space to his guests and taking the lead.
On songs with younger artists, he uses his star power in a complementary role, giving Morravey and Logos Olori — the two newly-signed acts to his Davido Music Worldwide imprint — leeway to stretch their contributions into memorable appearances. Fave’s gale-force contralto drives “KANTE,” while Benjamin (of The Cavemen) provides one of the album’s most enveloping highlights on “NA MONEY,” which also features a delightful cameo from the ever-vibrant Beninese legend, Angelique Kidjo.
The ever-present euphoria of prosperity
“Make I tell you something, life is not fair/Lost many of my guys, but I thank God I still dey here,” Davido sings on the penultimate track, “LCND.” It’s the only time on the album he expressly addresses the losses he’s had to grieve, but rather than wallow Davido finds some solace in his status as a legend. On the Yung Willis-produced highlight, the singer promises to live his best life and double his bag, giving a sense of purpose to typically hedonist themes in his music. It’s as much a reinforcement of who we know Davido to be, as it is a feat in self-assuring conviction.
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