Afro-Pop stars, Ayodeji ‘Wizkid’ Balogun and David ‘Davido’ Adeleke, have risen to become two of the biggest influences on the Nigerian music industry – and by extension its pop culture – in the last decade.
Year in, year out, Wizkid and Davido continue to influence, define, and change the genre with power moves that have seen a seeming paradigm shift in the focus of international record labels and management towards Africa.
Ayomide .O. Tayo, leading music enthusiast, writer and Senior editor at Opera News, says the two are the biggest with Burna Boy giving them a hot chase in the last two years. “Yes I would say that they are the two of the biggest in the last decade, although within the last two years, Burna Boy has almost caught up with them,” Tayo says.
Sharing Tayo’s views on the impact of Wizkid and Davido on the music industry in the last 10 years, music connoisseur, Ehis Ohunyon says, “Without doubt, Wizkid and Davido are the two biggest acts in the last 10 years – bar two years ago when Burna Boy joined their ranks.
“From 2010 when Wizkid introduced himself with ‘Holla At Your Boy’ and Davido in 2011 with ‘Back When’, both have charted a course of domination. Domination in terms of Artist of the year Awards, charts, hit singles, fan base, selling out shows from O2 Arena to Suriname. They both signed deals with International platforms that helped push the narrative of ‘Afrobeats to the world’ which became a bigger movement the minute Wizkid featured on Drake’s released ‘One Dance’.
“From ‘Ojuelegba’ to ‘If’, there have not been two singles that have charted the course of the industry more in the last decade. So, considering all these parameters, it is without a doubt that if the decade is being looked at extensively, Wizkid and Davido will comfortably sit as the two biggest proponents out of Nigeria,” Ohunyon, who resides in Canada reeled.
Also lending his voice to the achievements of Davido and Wizkid, Adeshina Oyetayo, a media executive says, “Without a doubt, yes. Wizkid and Davido are the ones who took over the baton of contemporary Nigerian music from the forbears like Tuface Idibia and D’banj and P-Square among a few others and took it to a larger global audience. With the advent of social media and technological advancements in music, the game is a lot more different from when the aforementioned artistes held sway because they were judged largely by physical album sales.
“Now, a music lover in Estonia can buy Davido’s album online or stream his new single just as someone in Enugu can do likewise from the comfort of his home or on his phone. The forbears didn’t have Spotify, Itunes, Tidal and Soundcloud among others neither did they have Youtube, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to push their music to a global audience real-time. These new advancements in technology have exponentially increased the global rating and renown of the new generation artists among whom Davido and Wizkid are primus inter pares.
Leading the pop culture
Be it their songs, collaborations, streaming numbers, music videos, or general lifestyle, these two have become dominant and or prevalent in the last decade.
The two who are below 30 – Wizkid is 29, and Davido is 27 – are setting the pace while leading at the forefront of the Nigerian pop culture.
“It is an absolute yes for me again because you have narrowed it down to pop music. Wizkid and Davido are peerless in that sector. They both have robust repertoires and are pop culture icons. They are leading the charge of Nigeria’s Afro beats exportation to the world,” Oyetayo quips.
Ohunyon says he agrees that the two singers have charted a cause that transcends music and lifestyle.
“The answer is still yes when we say the forefront of pop culture, we are looking at a life that transcends just the music to how the ‘streets’ relate to it and how they have influenced the way of life of the masses, so a perfect example is their fan base. From Wizkid FC to the 30BG gang, you will rarely see a group of fans so committed to an artist and willing to give all for them. Another example is when Wizkid released his ‘Starboy’ clothing merchandise, within days it was sold out in stores and the streets were flooded with fake and replicas. Everyone wanted to be associated with it, the streets wanted to show allegiance to its Starboy. Look at when Davido released ‘Assurance’, everyone started using the word, it became a trend. So these two have been able to build a lifestyle that goes beyond just the music but has become able to shift the conversation of pop culture at any given time.”
Tayo also agreed that Wizkid and Davido are leading the Nigerian pop culture saying, “Undoubtedly, they are at the forefront.”
The unavoidable rivalry
With massive followership, cult-like if you consider the actions of many of their fans, Wizkid and Davido have etched their names on the sands of time as two of the best that ever did it from and in Nigeria on a global scale.
Despite the controversies surrounding their relationship and lifestyle in the last 10 years, their art remains their biggest legacy ultimately. The music created by Wizkid and Davido has inspired the likes of Mayorkun, Terri, Teni d entertainer, and more. The legacies of Wizkid and Davido in the last ten years are humongous enough to be envied.
So does their rivalry, one of the most engrossing in Nigeria’s Afropop music history – not even the Plantashun boiz rivalry nor Remedies trio rivalry could match its riveting timeline.
“Their rivalry is competitive, each act is trying to outdo the other to claim who is the top Afrobeats act in the world. While their rivalry has s a friendly angle to it, their fanbases have added toxic elements to it,” Tayo submits.
For Ohunyon, the rivalry between Wizkid and Davido has contributed to some of the ugly moments of their career in the last 10 years but was unavoidable.
“Describing their rivalry, sadly it has had ugly moments like when their crew engaged in a physical clash at the 2017 One Music Fest in Dubai or when we see fans from both sides insult each other on social media. These are ugly dots that we don’t need and gladly the two artistes have been able to show some measure of maturity as they have now openly mended fences and support each other, but if we are being honest, the rivalry was unavoidable.
“There is this thing with us as humans in any field where we believe the throne is meant for just one person. That is why the Messi and Ronaldo rivalry will never die or the Pele and Maradona before it. Competition is a part of our lives especially if you consider how identical their timeline is. The rivalry has also undeniably helped us to see the best of both artists. After Wizkid sold out the O2 Arena, Davido immediately said that it was his dream to do the same and the following year, he achieved it. After Davido’s International adventure ‘failed’ in 2016, he returned up to and dominated the scene in 2017 with singles like ‘If and Fall’, when Wizkid also stumbled in the U.S, he adopted a similar template with ‘Manya’ in late 2017 and ‘Soco’ in 2019. So in a way it pushed them into excellence, they learned from each other’s mistakes and I would honestly say that outside the few times when it turned violent, the rivalry has helped us see the best from both of them.”
Oyetayo sees otherwise, saying the rivalry is borne out of the artists’ desire to outdo one another. “Well, the only rivalry I see between them is the attempt to outdo each other, produce better songs at every point in time, do better international collaborations and so on. Inadvertently, they keep each other on their toes and are each other’s biggest competition. And, the truth is that the industry and music lovers are the better for the rivalry because they are being fed with good music periodically.”
The rivalry has seen both music acts trying to outdo one another yet they keep making laudable achievements. While Davido is yet to get a Grammy nod, Wizkid has succeeded in getting co-nomination in some of his collaborations with Drake and Beyonce. In turn, Davido grabs the gold certification in the U.S. and Canada for his smashing hit, Fall.
Mirroring the lives of Davido and Wizkid for their achievements in the world of music and pop culture has become one of the most enjoyed conversations amongst the generation X.
The similarity in their growth musically and privately is what music buffs are equally delighted to also discuss.
Music and celebrity lifestyle historians will readily tell you that these two had their first child in the same month of May – though four years apart. Wizkid’s first son and child, Boluwatife Balogun, was born on May 13, 2001, and Davido’s first child and daughter, Imade Adeleke, was born on May 14, 2005.
Interestingly, both artists denied the paternity of their first child at first but later accepted after a DNA test was conducted. They are both not married to the women that bore their first child.