How are you today? Not too tired from last night’s performance, I hope. I’m sure you had a performance last night; you seem to have one every night these days. Pele. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, and right now, you are the king of Nigerian pop music. I never thought the day would come when I would make that statement, but here we are and I shall repeat: You. Are. The. King. Of. Nigerian. Pop Music.
I am sure you are wondering why I’m writing you a letter to state what’s pretty obvious to anyone who walks the streets of Lagos, goes clubbing or ventures near a party scene: Your music is on constant play. How did you do it ehn, David, how?
See, when you came on the scene, I gave you zero chance of survival. I was damn sure you were another excitable wannabe with an overdose of youthful exuberance, coming to foul the air with pathetic music fit only for brain-dead numbskulls and bimbos, much like you. That’s what I thought and some three years later, here I am tendering my unreserved apologies for stupidity. How could I not have seen it? How could I have lumped you with the one hit wonder crowd? How did I not know anything of your hard work and laser focus? How did I so quickly relegate you to the rubbish heap of naija’s ‘jollof music’ when I have always argued that there was a place for ‘non sense-making’ music in every society? See, I didn’t even think that you could succeed at making ‘disposable’ music. Ha!
Part of my problem, of course, was that your father has a lot of money. No, I am not envious. Yes, my father does not have a lot of money. Again, no; I do not want your father’s money. And yes, I was truly irritated when you came onto the scene because your father had a lot of money and you could bloody well buy a studio and croak into a microphone if you so desired. Being the child of a rich man has it’s drawbacks and one of them is that children of rich people are often seen through the prism of their parents money. I saw you as another boy with a money-miss-road father who has failed at everything else and now wants to try his hand at music because, as a qualified fucking loser with a sense of entitlement, you assumed anyone could sing. I judged you on first contact. Chai, I have been foolish! David, omo baba olowo, you will have to reach deep within your soul to find forgiveness for me.
Truth be told you can’t really sing, David. And you can’t really dance either. And your stage performances, the ones I saw, were like a dress rehearsal for a mini areaboys’ assault. You were all over the place like an eager monkey, prancing around the stage like an adulterous penis. But who says a great voice is necessary for success in pop music? Who says every pop artiste has to be a Michael Jackson and moonwalk? Fela didn’t have a great voice and could not dance to save his life, yet he made great music. And it isn’t as if you were claiming to be a nightingale. What people like me could not see in you was pretty obvious to the millions of people who appreciate your art: an art form’s essence is in its connection with an audience. What was it Mark Twain said again? ‘The public is the only critic whose opinion is worth anything at all‘. Your ardent fans validate you, and I-too-knows like me need to shut up and smell the agbalumo.
YOU ARE A BONAFIDE POP STAR, DAVIDO. I finally accepted this reality recently on a drive from Lekki to Ikeja. It was around 11pm on a Friday and the DJ on Top Radio 90.9 was doing non-stop mixes of Nigerian music. It was shocking when I realised that one of your songs was played every 5 minutes. When did Davido make so many hits? Where was I when all this was happing? That was when I was informed of your hard work, of how you work as if your father was a pauper. I was told how almost your entire life was spent in the studio. I was told that you were actually still in school. I was reliably informed that it is now possible to play an hour of your hits, whether solo or collabos. I was made aware of how you have even changed the direction of your music with a song like ‘Aye’, infusing elements of Highlife music, getting everybody on the dance floor wherever it is played. Afterwards, they had to assist me in closing my mouth, which I had left hanging wide open.
I shall now find a corner where I can eat this rather enormous humble pie.
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