Davido's new Tekno-produced single "If” is a slow burner, much in the vein of “Pana” and “Diana,”
Davido is a shrewd business man. As with many of his hits, if he hasn't written it, he's bought it—or so the hard to dismiss rumours go. Why a very common practice in the music industry is treated like a deep secret revealed, I don't know.
To begin with, his work rate is most impressive. His last EP Son of Mercy dropped only two months ago in November.
Reviewed here, it featured admirable decisions to adopt house on “How Long" with Tinashe and what, at the risk of ridicule, I'll call 'trap & b' on “Coolest Kid in Africa" with Nasty C (and that truly nasty bar about shadows).
Less enterprising or eager artists would have kept promoting the EP well into the summer. Not this guy. Dropping a new single and video this early in the year must mean that he has wrapped up promo for Son of Mercy.
“If" is not what we've come to expect from Davido, who seemed to flourish on songs that require high energy—“Gobe" “Gbagbe Oshi" and “Duro."
“If “ is sexy, it slinks and sashays. The beat sounds hollowed out and this 'space' has a real effect simply because it isn't cluttered with instruments, the same way an absence of incidental music in a film could give it an atmospheric charge, even when it's a complete bore. Put simply, to add is to subtract.
“If" is a slow burner, much in the vein of “Pana" and “Diana," both by Tekno who here is deputising as producer.
Davido's singing voice isn't talked about much and this, in part, is down to that rasp of his which is common to rappers and jazz singers.
Here the slow tempo and unfussy beat allows room for his voice to impress, and it does. He strains but never quite belts, enough to make him a slow smoother and charmer, when you expect him to ram you over the head with thumping beats and frenetic singing.
Davido has also proved himself the perfect conduit. Every song he's rumoured to have bought—whether "Aye," "Gbagbe Oshi" or “If," supposedly ghostwritten by Runtown, General Pype and Tekno respectively, may have the heavy imprint of its writers, but only an unfair critic would tell you he hasn't imbibed these songs to completion, which is a different skill from mimicry.
“If" from all indication was written by Tekno. First evidence is a particularly clear line of simplicity that runs through similar songs like it “Pana" and “Diana," both by Tekno.
The lyrics sometimes don't add up to much except as memorable clusters of rhymes. In “Pana" it was “fajaba, lagbaja, gwagwalada." Here it is “girl you're beautiful too/ my number one tutu/ sipping burukutu/ for your love tutu/ I go chook you chuku-chuku/ biko obianuju/ se you do me juju/ cos I'm feeling the juju."
Memorable, no doubt but there's more humour in appreciating the confluence of Igbo, Hausa, pidgin and English—what to some might be disparate elements made into a seamless whole.
Words and Meanings
Tutu - safe to assume it is an affectionate term.
Burkutu - locally brewed alcholic drink from Northern Nigeria.
Chuk - to pierce, or insert
Chuku-chuku - thorny or spiky
Obianuju - you came in the time of abundance
Juju - if you don't know this one you shouldn't be on an OkayAfrica webpage.
So, Kris Beatz produced “Pana" before co-producing “Diana" with Selebobo all for Tekno, who has here produced “If."
Jay Z once made his aspirations to billionaire status clear on Lil Wayne's “A Milli," but then more people bought Beats by Dre than they bought Tidal subscriptions.
Davido, never to be accused of humility, has just raised the bar a little too high insisting that he has “30 billion for de account".
Assuming it's in Naira—and we can only assume—if converted to the pound is still a more than impressive figure. Pity the fool who chose journalism.
Sabo Kpade is an Associate Writer with Spread The Word. His short story Chibok was shortlisted for the London Short Story Prize 2015. His first play, Have Mercy on Liverpool Street was longlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award. He lives in London. You can reach him at email@example.com