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Ranking Davido’s Albums through the Course of his Career

Ranking Davido’s Albums through the Course of his Career

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By Yinoluwa Olowofoyeku, Hope Ibiale, and Emmanuel Daraloye 

With the recent release of Davido’s Timeless album, critics and fans alike have heralded the project as Davido’s best work to date. And it comes as no surprise. The collection of songs gave listeners from all walks of life something to gravitate to and connect with. Timeless might be the zenith of Davido’s album oeuvre, but how do the rest of his projects stack up? The music team assembled to debate it out, and we’ve ended up with our hierarchy of Davido projects through his career, from worst to best. 

4. A Better Time

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The songs Davido recorded while he was at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic formed a large chunk of this album. Released just a year after A Good Time, A Better Time had “Fem” as the lead single. The song later became the unofficial EndSARS protest song months later. A Better Time peaked at number 4 in the US World Album Chart. On the album cover is Davido with his then-one-year-old son. The seventeen-track album fetched some monster hit songs, like the collaboration with Mayorkun on “The Best,” the R&B-spiced tune, “Jowo,” and the boisterous record with CKay, “La La.”  Davido’s attempts to build up on the successes of A Good Time with the release of A Better Time received a lukewarm reaction. The release of the album was not well thought-out. At the end of the spin, there’s this constant impression that Davido was striving to score a hit by all means; forced collaboration, unimpressive pen game, or drab production. In terms of finesse, this album ranks lowest in Davido’s discography.

3. Omo Baba Olowo

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This was the album that got the ball rolling in the first place, introducing us to “OBO, the Baddest” and setting the “Shekpe!” energetic and boisterous style that would become synonymous with Davido himself. Omo Baba Olowo is probably one of the strongest debut offerings out of the Nigerian music industry, immediately launching Davido from newcomer status into the stratosphere of nationwide superstardom. 

While Omo Baba Olowo might not score highly in terms of the type of cohesiveness that is now expected of albums, it presents the blueprint for what Davido would ultimately come to be known for: timeless, transcendent hits. From the likes of the street anthem, “Gbon Gbon,” to “Back When,” which hosted Naeto-C in his prime; the braggadocious “All of You,” and the party anthem “No Visa”; from the sweet and memorable “Ekuro,” to the most quintessential of party starters, “Dami Duro,” Davido instantly unveiled his penchant for making music that would be mainstays of radios, clubs, and iPods. 

There are a few songs on the album that might take a moment to remember, and some that might have skipped our minds totally at this point, yet those few cannot detract from the monument that this album is in the Nigerian music industry. And it is a testament to Davido’s artistry that over 10 years on, some of these songs elicit the same emotions and energies they did when they were first released. I guess Davido’s work has been timeless even before he bestowed that name on his album.

2. A Good Time

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A Good Time was released in 2019 through Sony Music, RCA Records, and Davido Worldwide Music (DMW). This album comes seven years after the release of Davido’s debut studio album, Omo Baba Olowo (OBO). It was released after years of waiting. In between this wait was a record deal with Sony Music, the release of the poorly-received Son of Mercy EP, and the founding of DMW that later led to the signing of Mayorkun, Dremo, Peruzzi, and others.

Five songs off this album were previously released: “If,” “Fall,” “Assurance,” “Blow My Mind,” and “Risky.” Some critics panned the inclusion of these songs. In hindsight, however, these previously-released records garnered the most streaming figures on this album. And this brings up the conversation of if Davido was playing it safe.

The album cover is a sleek tribute to consanguinity, friendship, and grief. The cover was a smart way of epitomising the mantra of “we lift by raising others.”

A Good Time features a total of eleven artists. Beyond the pre-released singles, it is difficult to point out any other record that made a solid headway after the album release.

1. Timeless

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Davido basks in his growth, delivering a sonically-balanced project and his most cohesive work. Davido previously approached album-making with a mindset of lumping pop singles together and putting together international artistes predicted to elevate the album’s replay value and bring them to new fan bases. Thus, all he offered with these projects was a chaotic, rather individualistic sonic template. You see, an album is supposed to be an experience. That’s why elements like sonic and thematic cohesion are essential. If these elements are missing, a full-length project can sound like a poorly-curated playlist. 

One thing that makes Timeless stand out is its sonic cohesion. This is the quality of an album to have songs cut from the same sonic cloth to have a unifying theme across vocals and production. Throughout Timeless, there is a dominant Amapiano theme, which some might argue makes the project monotonous. I can’t entirely agree because, with every listen, each song offers something fresh. Yes, they all have elements of Amapiano, but it is crystal clear that different riffs and chords are infused into the song, which in turn allows for an easy listen and brings much-needed comprehension. Overall, Davido’s attempt to make Afro-piano songs doesn’t miss, especially with the help of fresh producers.  

Also, the collaborations were exceptional. Across his albums and even as a person, Davido has displayed himself as an enthusiastic collaborator. His enthusiasm to collaborate with other artists has been a constant feature in his previous albums. The credited ten guests on Timeless is arguably the best-curated feature list on a Davido album. With their help, Davido aimed to elevate the project while covering new territories sonically. In these collaborations, Davido and the guest artistes bounce off each other’s brilliance and boost the project’s variety. 

Between the features, producers, and Davido himself, we are treated to a project that gives us a taste of different sounds while still keeping true to Davido’s roots sonically.

However, all these don’t mean Timeless is bereft of flaws. First, Davido’s obsession with the number 17 is his kryptonite. Songs like “E Pain Me” and “Precision” should have been left out. Perhaps, “Champion Song” would have worked better as the sixth or 11th track. It is quite surprising that “Stand Strong” was not the closing song for the album as it seals the atmosphere created by “LCND.” After the first three tracks, the transitions on this album are not the smoothest. The transition from one song to the next on an album mustn’t feel rushed, inorganic, or harried. Why? It takes away from the overarching experience; when the transition isn’t pleasant, it reminds the listener that a transition has happened and a new song is being played.

 

Yinoluwa “Yinoluu” Olowofoyeku is a multi-disciplinary artist and creative who finds expression in various media.

Hope Ibiale is a writer and a book lover. She is currently a student of Communication and Language Arts at the University of Ibadan.

Emmanuel Daraloye is Africa’s Most Prolific Freelance Music Critic. He has over 500 album reviews in his archive.

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  • This review is very wattery. Timeless has to be one of his worst works. Davido knows he let himself down with his latest project. I do not blame him. He has been through a lot lately. I know his next album will be fire, because I know he will want to compensate for Timeless.

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