In an exclusive interview with OkayAfrica, the Nigerian powerhouse talks about his childhood traveling between Atlanta and Nigeria, approaching music from a business perspective, and why he's building music schools across Africa.
David Adedeji Adeleke, better known as Davido, sits comfortably in a cigar chair in the entryway of the Willard Hotel. His "Africa to the World" graphic t-shirt, a red dad cap, and matching joggers add a splash of excitement to the traditional Victorian backdrop of wood trimmed halls and chandeliers. Just the previous night he was in Morocco, popping out at Idris Elba's wedding.
Davido is in town to perform at the inaugural Coming to America Music Festival in Washington, DC. He moves his hands and body back and forth as if negotiating a business deal while talking. In many respects, the Nigerian powerhouse and star singer-songwriter is a businessman first. He adds inflections to his most important selling points, as he hands off pieces of his strategic plan.
His chief priority is to communicate the richness of the African continent to the world. While he first experimented with making hip-hop music, influenced by his summers spent in Atlanta, one trip back home to Lagos for Christmas stirred his music in a different direction. After traveling back home he found purpose in exporting music reflective of his Nigerian roots to the globe. Creating feel-good afro-fusion songs has become his platform.
Davido is building music schools across Africa. He also founded his own music label Davido Music Worldwide, which boasts Nigerian artist's like Dremo and Mayorkun on its roster. He hopes to equip the next generation of African artists with the tools necessary to become transnational and insure there are more recognizable names coming out of Africa.
Last year, Davido became the first African artist to receive an award at the BET Awards main stage. During his acceptance speech, he mentioned that his "continent has been so blessed to influence so many cultures," before going on to encourage the audience to come to Africa. Since then he's continued to build bridges collaborating with American artist like J. Cole, Meek Mill, Tory Lanez, and Quavo.
The 26-year-old music mogul talked to us about his experience spending his childhood traveling between Atlanta and Nigeria, why approaching his music from a business perspective is important, and why he's building music schools across Africa.