Davido, in his debut interview with Ebro Darden of New York top radio station, Hot 97, dished on his career, his hustle to convert his family into his dreams,the first time his song was played in a club, and collaborations.
The singer revealed that he was kicked out of college in the US due to his poor grades, after concentrating on music. He also shared the story of how he disappeared from home for over six months to chase music, and convince his family to support him.
From discovering music, to chasing it agressively against the wishes of his family, Davido dishes on life before the fame, and the sacrifices he made to achieve it.
The full interview is transcribed and edited below.
On Origins of His Music
Officially, I’ve been putting out records since I was 18, that was like 5 years ago. Before then, I was actually engineering (producing) since I was like 11. I got my Mac Book, learned Logic that was my first software, because I was schooling out there in Alabama. So I had these Jamaican friends that used to record. So I’d record them, mix the track, make sure everything sounds A1, and I’d give them ideas.
So one day they were like, ‘Yo D, you give us so much ideas, why don’t you try it yourself. I remember I was like 15, and we were trying to do a demo for Konvict then. So I just got on, did the hook, I came out of the booth and everybody was looking at me like, it’s huge, common, you gotta do it yourself.
I bought my own equipment, and began my own. I was recording every day at home. This was a long time, I haven’t been home in about three years, I was in college in America.
How Music Made A US University Drop Him
First I went to Tennessee, then I went to Alabama, I didn’t get kicked out for being bad, I got kicked out because of my grades. I was focused on music. So I transferred to HBCU in Alabama, and that was where I found my music life. I learned everything. There was a music school there, and everybody was just about music. Actually, it was a Christian school, it was just Gospel Music. There was this dude called J. Mo, he came to me to mix his first record. I remember he had a space on his record. I did the demo for him to record it himself, and then he just released it with my voice on it. So it was like ‘featuring Davido’. That was the first time I saw something like ‘featuring Davido’. So I was like, it sounds kinda good.
This was 2010 when I went home. I saw Don Jazzy, Tiwa (Savage) was out. I was just looking at all these like ‘These dudes are making money”. I went there for Christmas and it was lit. It was crazy. I was hanging out with D’banj at the time, he had that Kanye deal. I now told my Dad that I was trying to stay, and he was like ‘What? My friend you better go back to school”.
I called my roommate, and told him “Imma do this no more. If my Dad calls, tell him you don’t know where I’m at.’
How He Disappeared From Home
When I left, my family was looking for me for like 6 months. They sent letter to D’banj house, they sent letter to Psquare house, they sent letters to everybody’s house. My Dad was calling school, and they were telling him; ‘He wasn’t even here for the past semester, he left..” It was like the whole Nigeria knew who I was before I even dropped a single. Kamal that is my manager now, used to be Don Jazzy’s assistant. My Dad started calling him and said “if I see you guys with my son, all of you are getting arrested.”
The first record I put out first was ‘Back When’. I was in London at the time, I dropped this record, I went home, and they were like ‘Yo, come on, it’s time. D’banj, Wande Coal and everybody was telling me that your record was good. I was 16, so I was the youngest at the time. I went back home fresh from America. I go into the club that night, and they were playing my song, I went crazy.
The “Baddest” album was been done, I had a release date already. ‘Fans mi’ was out, the project was about to drop. When I did that song with Meek, he was the hottest rapper at the time. After I dropped that record, it showed me that planning was very important. You can drop music, you can put music out, but at the end of the day, I’m trying to take my African music around the world. So if I know that I’mma drop something and it is just gonna be good in Africa, if I got to wait, I’ll wait.
I have just been blessed to have sold out shows in London, all over the world. In New York, 6000 people showed up for a 1000 capacity venue. Then the police shut it down. I haven’t done a show (in New York) since then.
Style Of Music
I don’t even call my music Afrobeat, I call mine Afrofusion. To me it’s just too different. I can’t tell you it’s Afrobeat, because it’s not. “You know the originator of the Afrobeats is Fela. Fela has a sound which I can say has heavy baseline, the Rhodes, brass instrument, [and] the percussion is different. If you ask me ‘Gobe’ is Calypso, Afro mixed with Calypso. But I feel like the Afrobeats is catchy and has caught wave since time. Because I know some Afrobeats songs that I don’t want to call Afrobeats. I call them Afro-Pop or I call Afro Trap. Everything is just still African music.
On Numerous Collaborations
I’m kinda doing my thing; like just recording. Last year I was more of “I gotta this person on my track, I gotta get that person on my track”. Especially since that Meek Mill record, it ‘do you’, everything gonna come’. I remember I was trying to get in the studio with (Young) Thug, one of my boys from Atlanta hooked us up. So after a while, I was just like, let me just let it go. Then two weeks ago, I was chilling, I just get a text saying ‘Yo, where you at?’, and it’s Thug. And he’s like ‘Come to the studio’, he was like three tracks, and it was done. We did one for his stuff, and two for mine.
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