‘A Good Time.’ And with those three words which serve as the title of his second studio album, Davido asserts the present state of not just his career but the year he is having. 2019 has seen him sell out the O2 Arena, feature heavily on the US Charts and global conversations, successful radio tours and performances, and a personal level, getting engaged to his long-time girlfriend and the birth of his son.
Before the arrival of the long-awaited album, Davido and his team were already calling it a win. From the album cover where friends and family who have been part of his journey were made the centerpiece to the heavy collaborations and buzz-building singles like ‘Risky’ with Popcaan and ‘Blow My Mind’ featuring Chris Brown, it would have been hard to debate.
Seven years have passed since he released his debut effort, ‘‘O.B.O- The Genesis’’, the album which was delivered little over a year after he introduced himself with the single, ‘Back When.’
How an artist who has been in the industry for close to a decade has only one proper album, yet his name commands a high level of consistency, relevance, and an unwavering fanbase is one that points at the full-blown powers that streaming and social media now commands.
In the past, his stock would probably have gone under especially when you consider that his major contemporaries like Burna Boy have released four albums and two EPs while Wizkid has 3 projects, [His sophomore album, SFTOS and the EME compilation album] within the same time frame.
But while he has starved his fans of a proper body of work, Davido has ensured they had a sustained sniff of what he was cooking; he has released over 25 singles within that period, [Excluding DMW singles] which is at least 2 albums worth, maintaining his mainstream presence and giving his fans what they want.
There was also the American market fascination which saw the release of the ‘‘Son of Mercy’’ EP, that he admits ‘never happened’ to going back to basics, winning the ‘Best International Act’ at the BET, re-charting the course of his spread with ‘Fall’ taking a significant spot on American radio charts two years after its release and instant mainstream acceptance back home, in a manner similar but yet in contrast to Lizzo’s ‘Truth Hurts’, crashing the house he once built with the likes of Sina Rambo and B-Red to building an empire of music proteges in the form of Mayorkun and Peruzzi. Davido has come a long way, been putting in the work and with it came, many ‘Song of the year’ and ‘Artist of the Year’ honors.
On the opening track of his 2012 released debut album, a song that would have contoured its way perfectly into this album with its theme, Davido had boasted ‘‘I’m bigger than all of you.’’ At the time, his confidence stemmed largely from being an O.B.O [Son of a wealthy man; read billionaire], rather than his talent which was quite questionable in his early days. Today, his appreciation is no longer confined to his father’s status as his music pings through the globe at the speed of Instagram, talking of Instagram, Davido’s official account boasts a following of over 14M, the highest by any celebrity in the country.
While he has enjoyed a number of successes, personal losses and admittedly made some wrong moves since his debut to releasing his latest effort on November 22, 2019, 2017 remains by far the landmark year in his career. The year where everything he dropped was indeed gold and his songs reigned supreme in each corridor around the continent. The year that ultimately ushered in ‘A Good Time.’
At 17 tracks, spanning just over an hour, something it holds in common with his debut album lengthwise, there are gems in ‘A Good Time’ for his fans to celebrate. From the opening two tracks, where he allows himself to reflect on the ‘Intro’ and then exudes satisfied exuberance with ‘1Milli’, where he sounds like he is enjoying himself penning love promises to the one he loves, to ‘Animashaun,’ an instant fan favorite, which finds his artist Yonda in fine form as he seizes his moment to compress as much spiritual sweetness into the song as possible.
A song title like ‘Sweet in the Middle’ serves it’s double purpose both literally and figuratively in its message and its placement as the album’s half-time marker, but while it features an uncanny line-up with smooth singing Wurld pitched alongside street favorites Naira Marley and Zlatan, the song falls short of the epiphanic experience the cast hints at. ‘Risky’ is one of those records dripping with an unexplainable sweetness that gets better with every listen, while ‘One Thing’ has the potential to soar as he asks, ‘‘Wetin Instablog wan talk again?’’
Critics also do have a few holes to exploit. The idea of placing the 2017 smash singles ‘If’ and ‘Fall’ [Even in their tweaked forms] at key points of the album when they perhaps would have worked best as bonus tracks and minor records like ‘Check Am’, ‘Green Light Riddim’ and ‘Big Picture,’ while not being bad songs, fail to provide the album with any lasting pleasures.
Outside Burna Boy, who is having a phenomenal year, I dare say Davido is the only other artist who has been well showcased and marketed for success by his international label during the course of the year, and while the industry he caters for may favor singles, a body of work is what will get him into the conversation that he seeks; like the Grammy nod that Burna Boy recently bagged and perhaps if this album had been released in 2018, few months after the phenomenal year he had, similar to what Burna did off the back of the success of a string of singles including ‘Ye’ and ‘Killin Dem,’ just perhaps the immediate impact would be more reverberate and echo-drenched.
Cocky, exultant, airy, triumphally affirming is one way to describe this album and while it trails off in moments, assisted by a pool of talented songwriters and producers, ‘A Good Time’ represents the sound of an artist liberated from the pressure [both self-imposed and fans demanded] to make an album for a particular market or obsessively fascinated by ‘perfection’ and just stick to a formula that once worked for him. I liken it to a good 90 minutes of football, but with very few highlights.
In essence, this album is Davido’s persona translated into melodies and while it offers an improvement on ‘The Genesis,’ he raised the bar two years ago when he made time stop with those four singles, a feat that looks very unlikely to be repeated.