meta-scriptDavido On Elevating Nigerian Culture, New Music & What He'll Teach His Son About Being Black In America | GRAMMY.com
Davido On Elevating Nigerian Culture, New Music & What He'll Teach His Son About Being Black In America

Davido 

Photo: Frank Fieber

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Davido On Elevating Nigerian Culture, New Music & What He'll Teach His Son About Being Black In America

The Afrobeats star opens up about furthering Nigeria's global cultural impact and how the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement has personally impacted him

GRAMMYs/Aug 20, 2020 - 07:49 pm

David Adedeji Adeleke—a.k.a Davido—was on his way to becoming a rapper until one Christmas, everything changed when he decided to travel to his parents' home country of Nigeria. 

"I just fell in love with African music. I was like, 'Yo, I think I want to do African music,'" he recently told GRAMMY.com from Los Angeles. "And it worked out. If I would have rapped, I'd probably still be at home."

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Things more than worked out for the 27-year-old breakout Afrobeats star born in Atlanta. As Afrobeats continues to grab the world's attention, he's risen to be featured on the May 2020 cover of Billboard magazine and, according to Rolling Stone, his single "Fall" off his 2019 album A Good Time holds the record for the longest Nigerian pop song in Billboard history. And he continues to reach new heights: He was on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" last month.

Davido, who also runs his own label, undoubtly is expanding Afrobeats' reach, yet that arguably is not the most interesting thing about the artist who went to college at the young age of 15 before his music career took off. Now, as he works on his next album A Better Time, the artist is finding himself in an elevated place in his life. "I feel like I've been in a better space. So you're going to see a lot of growth on this album," he said. 

We spoke to him about the forthcoming album and how the pandemic has shaped it, how his label is helping him give opportunities to artists, what he thinks about people's love for Afrinca now, as well as how his recently born son has changed the way he looks at racism, and more.

Your sophomore album, A Good Time, was released in November. What did you enjoy about making album number two?

First of all, I think making album number two, the good thing about it is you learn a lot of mistakes from the albums you've previously dropped. So the first thing I went into with this album was planning. I had to make sure I had proper planning. The reason I called the album A Good Time is because we just had a good time making it. It wasn't forced. I remember my first album, I had a deadline, so I had to record songs that didn't take time to make. I didn't take my time on them. With this second album I had more  time and more creative space to create.

You were recently on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." Tell me about that experience.

Man, it's crazy. I've been watching late-night shows—I remember being a kid, and you're not meant to be up late, [and] I used to sneak to the living room and I used to watch back-to-back tonight shows. I've seen all the greats perform there. 50 Cent. The list is long. I remember when it aired all my family, my brothers, people I went to school with back in the days, hit me up like, "Yo, that's crazy." They knew how everything started. Two years ago, I'd had never imagine I'd be on "Jimmy Fallon." For it to just happen and everybody just be happy about it just is amazing to see.

You're an Afrobeats breakout star. You along with people like Yvonne Orji are opening up Americans of all backgrounds to Nigerian culture. Do you feel a sense of responsibility doing that?

Yeah, of course. It's crazy, because I'm from both America and Africa, so I know how both sides think. I went to school in Alabama. I went to college at 15. I was very young. And Alabama was a predominantly white state. So being an African kid in a university where it's 13% Black people, it's amazing. It's not easy. I had to learn a lot of the things when I was like, "Yo, why you look at me like that?" And not even just being Black, being African. They used to ask me questions like, "Yo, how'd you get to America?" I'm like, "What you mean? I came on a plane." "Oh, y'all got airports?" Now every American wants to go to Africa. Everybody wants to know where they're from. So it's good to see the transition from not being appreciated, to being appreciated right now. Even with fashion. You got designers that making African print fashion, so it's not only music. The culture is being felt everywhere. 

Read: Yvonne Orji On Her First-Ever HBO Comedy Special, Faith & Celebrating Black Joy

As a person with a bi-cultural background, you could have gone either way with your music.

I actually started out rapping. I actually started rapping first. I used to live in Atlanta and I used to just rap, make beats. Then I went to Nigeria for Christmas one time and I just fell in love with African music. I was like, "Yo, I think I want to do African music." And it worked out. If I would have rapped, I'd probably still be at home.

What about the music did you fall in love with?

Man, I don't know. To me, when I listen to Afrobeats, it's just a different feeling. You'd be in the club, they play hip-hop, trap, R&B, whatever the case may be. And once the Afrobeat come on, you can tell the difference from the scenery, the feeling, the beats. Most people don't even know what we saying, but they still listen to it. So that's the great thing about it.

That rhythm will make you want to dance.

The rhythm. Yeah, the rhythm.

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I'm still thinking about the fact that you said you went to college at 15?

I went to college at around 15. I went to this Christian university in Huntsville, Alabama. I was there for about two years and then I didn't go back because I went back to Nigeria and I fell in love with African music. So I was trying to stay in Africa and do the music. The deal with my parents was I had to graduate. So I was like, "Cool, let me do the music. I go to school." So I was going to school, but I got too far footed in school. So I started doing home classes. They used to put me in classes alone because my music blew up and people couldn't concentrate if I was in the class. 

Wow.

Yeah, that was crazy. So I finally got my degree and then everything just went crazy from there.

Talk to me about your influences. Who do you look up to? Who shaped your music?

Honestly, I don't really have too many musical influences. But I grew up, like I said, I used to want to be a rapper. I used to love 50 Cent, I used to have all the G-Unit clothes, I used to have the video game. I was more of a rap type person. I don't think that molded my music in any way. But with my style, I liked the urban style. I dressed like a rapper anyway. But yeah, I'd say hip hop did a lot of influencing for me.

When you're creating, how do you get in the zone? 

Funny enough, I like a lot of people around me when I'm recording. I actually don't really like to record alone because I like to record and see people enjoy the music. That's what gives me more [motivation]. "Oh, keep going." You in the studio, you make something from scratch and one hour later everybody in the studio's singing what you just made. That's amazing. I like having people in the studio, party type stuff ... I probably get a studio especially by myself to maybe finalize it, but to make it, I like to be around people.

What are you working on now? 

The new album we're working on now, the third album, is called A Better Time. We're doing a little series with albums. First on the scene was A Good Time, now it's A Better Time. So I came out here to just finish up the features and shoot some videos and it is looking pretty dope. 

What can fans expect on this next one? 

I think you'll see a lot of growth. Just like in A Good Time album. I feel like I've been in a better space. So you're going to see a lot of growth on this album, I can tell you that much.

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Does that growth have anything to do with the pandemic? 

You know what? I was just saying that because most times I'm on tour, etc. For the first time in a long time for our generation, that is, we have to actually stay at home. This has never happened. Imagine how many people had time to sit down and really reflect on their life? You know what I'm saying? I had to make some changes. Just being at home for so long, I made some changes. I cut off some people, I just stepped away from the world a little bit. Just tried to realize who I really was. You feel me? And I feel like that's what helped my music. It's all because of the pandemic.

Weeks into the pandemic, we had George Floyd's death and the Black Lives Matter movement getting major attention. What do you make about the conversations regarding race going on across the country and other parts of the world?

It's crazy because like I said, I grew up in Huntsville, Alabama, this was when I was 15, 16, so I've always understood like, yo, this is going to happen. You know what I'm saying? Sometimes just because of the color of your skin, you might not get a lot of honesty from somebody. You feel me? So it was just crazy. 

This how I look at it: I just had a son and he's an American citizen. So imagine my son telling me, "Yo, dad, I want to go to the mall." And I have to explain to him like, "Yo, if the police stop you..." It's crazy how we have to tell them that part. I don't think growing up my dad ever sat me down and was like, "Oh, this is going to happen." But I have to do it for my son. I have to teach him as a Black man. As a Black man, you have to be able to defend yourself, number one. You're not going to get your way all the time and you just have to be a man and be strong. The other way I look at it, we're screaming Black Lives Matter, right? But we killing ourselves too. So the conversation is both sided, it goes both ways. 

The situation also brought a lot of accountability in the music industry. You have your own label. Is your label your way of giving opportunities to artists who maybe wouldn't have those opportunities?

Of course. My label is one of the only record labels that really bring artists from scratch. Most people just sign artists that already made. My label, it's a whole family. Anything I get from them, I invest it and I give it to them to invest back in themselves because I want to see them grow. I've been blessed to be able to take care of myself, that I'm willing to be signing somebody that I know can be the next me or potentially be bigger than me. And I sign you down for a contract and you giving me 60% of your money and you can invest in yourself. Whereas me, I didn't sign to nobody, I had the opportunity to make 100% of my money for a long time. So that's how I think of it. I'm not going to do what they didn't do to me. So most of my artists they're like my little brothers. We help each other. They help me. I help them.

EXCLUSIVE: Wale Pens Personal Letter About His Powerful "Sue Me" Video: "There Are Two Different Americas"

Dancehall Artist Teejay Unveils His Most Honest Persona Yet On 'I Am Chippy'
Teejay

Photo: Hakeem West

interview

Dancehall Artist Teejay Unveils His Most Honest Persona Yet On 'I Am Chippy'

On his debut EP with Warner Music, dancehall artist Teejay shares the chip on his shoulder along with "the story of where I came from and where I’m trying to go."

GRAMMYs/Feb 8, 2024 - 04:21 pm

Dancehall artist Teejay has long used alter egos in his breakout performances. Throughout his artistic journey, Teejay has developed a knack for reinventing his image.

First coming on the scene as wunderkind Timoy, Teejay later took on the moniker Buss Head General, a young adult gritty gunman persona, before evolving into joyful melodies as Uptop Boss and later embracing the sensuous realm as Teejay.  On I Am Chippy, his debut EP with Warner Music, Teejay sheds his previous layers and embraces yet another cycle of renewal with the alter ego Chippy. 

Released Feb. 2, the nine-track I Am Chippy is brimming with infectious melodies and impactful verses. Featuring collaborations with fellow dancehall artists Tommy Lee Sparta, and Bayka on five tracks, I Am Chippy also sees an infusion of Afrobeats with Davido. Throughout, Teejay showcases his vocal mastery against a backdrop of pulsating basslines, eerie synths, Latin guitars, gunshot sounds, and dance-worthy rhythms. 

Much like Teejay himself, each track adopts a distinct persona. Lead single "Dip" promises to get everyone moving, as Chippy enthusiastically declares, "Just like how the world did Drift," his 2023 breakout single that earned him TikTok success, a record deal, and over 78 million plays, everybody is gonna dip for sure."

Despite these successes — or perhaps because of them — Teejay's latest alias, Chippy, can't conceal the chip on his shoulder regarding life's stark realities. Timoy Janeyo Jones was born into a humble family in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and his musical talent was nurtured by his Christian revivalist mother and two brothers with production skills. By age 9, Teejay was already showcasing his musical prowess within the community, on television, and on the radio. While Teejay seemed destined to become an entertainer, reality took a different turn after he left school in the seventh grade.

"Some of us weren't meant to be brought up well, go to good schools, learn, and have a proper education. Some of us grew up in the streets and never had fathers," Teejay reflects. "The EP tells the story of where I'm coming from. Since I was a kid, I wanted to be a star. So that's the most important thing about it…people can actually listen to it and understand the story of where I came from and where I’m trying to go.

Teejay spoke with GRAMMY.com about his new musical chapter, the nuances of dancehall culture, and his efforts to elevate his dancehall peers into the mainstream.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. 

This album and era took a bit of a turn for you. I think some people were used to your songs for the ladies, like "Unfaithful Games," however, this EP is a bit darker with  "gunman chunes." It's like you've been holding your tongue for so long that now you are showing everyone just how bad you really are. 

Reggae music was about peace and love and then came dancehall — it's been happening since the 1990s with Shabaa Ranks, Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, and Mad Cobra. I was born in '94, I grew up listening to all these artists so by 2000, that’s all I knew. 

The clashing in music, STING  [a notorious Jamaican concert where artists lyrically clash], and everything is just culture. Artists go on stage and deejay against each other. This is how we build a fanbase in Jamaica. This is how people know that an artist is lyrically inclined, and to not be played with. 

We are not gonna see each other and fight, or anything like that. We're going to perform together and make some money. It’s all about the bread. It's just entertainment. 

You recently engaged in a clash with another dancehall artist, Valiant. Clashing is a part of dancehall culture; why was doing a clash important to you?

I mean it's a publicity stunt, right? Both good publicity and bad publicity work sometimes and it has engaged a lot of fans. 

I just know how to promote myself. I always wanna be in the front of the class because I wanna learn something so I always practice and know what’s my next move. It's like playing chess. 

Can you share the story behind the transition from your early days in the gritty dancehall scene to today, when you're blending more diverse styles?

Before "Drift" and "Unfaithful Games," when Teejay was coming up in Montego Bay, in 2013, it was only grimy dancehall hardcore music. My name was Buss Head General in the beginning and then I decided after some things happened in the past, to grow. 

Since I have six kids, I decided to do some good music they can grow up listening to. But I also realized that even the kids love hardcore dancehall songs. I just have to balance the scale.

What's something signature that every song on the EP has?

Every song on the EP has that new sound. It's like a new wave. Artists from Kingston and Jamaica always compete for the new sound. Everybody is saying that the Montegonians have the new sound right now, so I'm just trying to get that particular sound out. 

Everything has a vibe to it. The 808 is totally different. The melody and the dynamic of everything changed. We took out words from the songs so you can actually feel the melody more with the beat. That's the craft of it. It’s simple and easy to remember.

Didn’t your mentor Shaggy tell you something about making the words simpler and focusing on amplifying the beat?

Yeah, we went back to the drawing board and changed everything. One of the songs with my son is called "Star." That's my favorite song. Everybody is going to sing that song. It's so understanding! You can hear it clearly and you can understand everything that you sing. It has a melody. It has meaning to it.

You have a lot of features from dancehall artists on the EP; it feels like you're lighting the way for them. 

Yeah, because no man is an island. No man can stand alone. Each one helps the other. So if I can use my platform to enlighten other dancehall artists, at least people will remember that Teejay had his shine and he also brought somebody on the latter with him. 

United we stand divided we fall. And I can't do it alone. I swear I need help. I need other artists in the genre to understand that this is bigger than us. This is a big picture, and if we can just fill in somewhere on the bottom, the top, or in the middle, it would be good for the culture of dancehall and not just for Teejay. 

You got signed to Warner Music in 2023. Was getting signed to a U.S. label one of your dreams?

It was always one of my dreams because I'm a lover of music and I realized that people in Jamaica don't buy EPs — or albums, much less. It’s like time is evolving and people in Jamaica are not evolving with it. They will sit and wait for the YouTube link or something to stream it. 

We don't have proper A&R, we don't have proper lawyers, but now I have the opportunity to work with these wonderful people, these lovely people, so let’s just do it. Don't just sit and think about getting the No. 1 trending spot on YouTube in Jamaica. It's bigger than that. It's bigger than me. It's bigger than all of us. 

How did the Latin-infused "Twerk" on I Am Chippy come about?

Well, "Twerk" is for the ladies; it was inspired by Busta Rhymes' "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See." It has the same feeling along with [[Santana"Maria, Maria, you remind me of a Westside story." 

That song was produced by DJ Frass Records. Some producers have the experience and the wisdom to know what people want to hear. We were at the Airbnb chilling and he said, "Yo, I have a new rhythm I think you would like." I said "Run the rhythm, turn it up!" As soon as I heard it, I was like, "Yo this bad, this sick, this crazy! Load it up in the studio!" 

I don't write, I just smoke and drink sometimes and then I just get the inspiration [for a song] based on maybe seeing what a friend or family member is going through. I sing about it so it can feel real. 

You dropped out of school in seventh grade to pursue music. That is really young. What do you wish you knew then that you know now?

Honestly, I always wanna learn. Back then, music was the only thing for me. That's why, now, I make sure that all my kids go to good schools. I tell them that they need their education. 

Whenever I'm in a conversation, I try not to say much. I listen to what people say so I can learn or add up things. I read a lot. Most of the time if I'm not doing anything, I try to read a book just to learn something. 

I think that I’m far better off than most people who have subjects and degrees. I'm not saying this for kids to feel like, oh, you can do what Chippy did. No, not everybody has the same luck. I never had a father to even help my mom send me to school, so it was pressure for her to see Teejay leave school. But the fact that I didn't end up in prison or in violence or anything, and I did music and became a big star in the community is good. So I took the negative and turned it into a positive.

You decided to collaborate with Davido on "Drift," which was a great move. How do you feel about Afrobeats getting some of the mainstream attention that dancehall once had?

I mean, everybody has their time. The reason that dancehall music has taken a backseat, I think, has to do with the people, because music is evolving. [[To be recognized as a supporter of music] you have to have a credit card, a bank account, you have to file taxes, have Zelle, Amazon music, and everything. Nobody in Jamaica subscribes to that, so these are the things that are affecting dancehall music [on the charts]. I think that's why I am here as an artist promoting dancehall music, telling the people things, and talking to the government about  [putting programs in place to support Caribbean music]. 

For us to say that we feel a way that Afrobeats music has reached where it is, I don't think is fair. Africa has been putting in the work over the years. I mean, it's 200 million people in Nigeria alone; like we can't even compete. [But Afrobeats] was inspired by dancehall music. All these artists from Africa can tell you that they grew up listening to dancehall music: Burna Boy said on a show that he used to listen to Movado, Vybz Kartel, and all these great artists.

And based on the success of your 2023 what was your biggest lesson of the year?

"Drift" taught me a lesson about time. No matter what you do, you have to wait for your time. I swear you cannot beat time. That's nature.

There was a time when as you mentioned I thought I was a flop. There was a time when I felt nobody was paying Teejay attention. I was giving other people attention and all my time and nobody stopped and even asked me if I was good. So I would just say that's the most valuable lesson: Believe in yourself, and love yourself before you can love others.

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2024 GRAMMYs: Tyla Wins First-Ever GRAMMY Award For Best African Music Performance
Tyla accepts the award for African Music Performance at the 66th Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony

Photo: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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2024 GRAMMYs: Tyla Wins First-Ever GRAMMY Award For Best African Music Performance

"I never thought I’d say I won a GRAMMY at 22 years old," the South African singer said. Although coming up against stiff competition, including massive Afrobeats stars Burna Boy and Davido, Tyla's hit song "Water" proved undeniable for GRAMMY voters.

GRAMMYs/Feb 4, 2024 - 10:31 pm

Tyla has taken home the golden gramophone for Best African Music Performance — an all-new category — at the 2024 GRAMMYs, for "Water."

The South African starlet came ahead of ASAKE & Olamide ("Amapiano"); Burna Boy ("City BoysMiracle"); Davido Featuring Musa Keys ("UNAVAILABLE"); and Ayra Starr ("Rush"). 

The 22-year-old singer was taken aback upon winning the trophy, which was awarded by Jimmy Jam during the GRAMMYs Premiere Ceremony. 

"What the heck?!" she declared once on stage. "This is crazy, I never thought I’d say I won a GRAMMY at 22 years old."

Although coming up against stiff competition, including massive Afrobeats stars Burna Boy and Davido, the massive appeal of Tyla's hit song "Water" proved undeniable for GRAMMY voters. The amapiano-based pop song entered the Billboard Hot 100 last year, the first for an South African solo artist since Hugh Masekala in 1968. It later peaked at No. 7, making her the highest-charting African female solo musician in Billboard history. The song also went to No. 1 on the Billboard U.S. Afrobeats Songs and Hip-Hop/R&B charts. 

Tyla shouted out her family during her acceptance speech, saying "I know my mother’s crying somewhere in here." 

Tyla makes history as the first-ever Best African Music performance winner. The category was created in order for the Academy to honor music from the continent, according to Academy President Harvey Mason Jr. 

"I'd love to see us be able to honor even more music from Africa and other areas of the world," Mason said in an interview with GRAMMY.com. "The future of the Recording Academy is going to build on equity. We're not just honoring music breaking in our country — we're celebrating music from around the world." 

Keep checking this space for more updates from Music’s Biggest Night!

2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Full Winners & Nominees List (Updating Live)

Family Matters: How A Fateful Nightclub Performance Led Davido To His Creative Director, Tycoone
(L-R) Davido and Tycoone

Photo: Courtesy of the Recording Academy

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Family Matters: How A Fateful Nightclub Performance Led Davido To His Creative Director, Tycoone

Meet the man behind all of Davido's creative endeavors — including the "crazy" cover for his GRAMMY-nominated album, 'Timeless' — and hear about the serendipitous night that brought the pair together.

GRAMMYs/Feb 2, 2024 - 06:39 pm

The relationship between Afrobeats hitmaker Davido and his creative director, Tycoone, proves that the members of an artist's team are more than their colleagues — they're family.

The pair first met when Tycoone worked as a photographer in Atlanta, during a night that spawned an unexpectedly fortuitous photo. "Right after one of my shoots, I went with my client to the club. I still had my camera with me … David coming there hit me by surprise," he reveals in this episode of Family Matters.

Tycoone snapped a photo that Davido liked, and the rest is history.

"I realized this guy has more ideas, apart from what I called him for," Davido explains. "We start vibing. We became good friends. And we've been killing it ever since."

Now Davido's right-hand man, Tycoone helped execute sonic and visual elements for his latest album, Timeless, which received a nomination for Best Global Music Album at the 2024 GRAMMYs.

"My first reaction to the GRAMMY nomination — I was going crazy," Tycoone recalls. As Davido adds, "This award meant a lot because things weren't always A-1, like they are now."

With Timeless earning three nominations in total — album tracks "UNAVAILABLE" and "FEEL" are up for Best African Music Performance and Best Global Music Performance, respectively — they're certain that the upcoming ceremony will be full of celebration. But for now, they're already "going back to the drawing board" for their next project.

Press play on the video above to learn more about how Davido and Tycoone's bond sparked the idea for his GRAMMY-nominated album, Timeless. Check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Family Matters.

Tune into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, airing live on the CBS Television Network (8-11:30 p.m. LIVE ET/5-8:30 p.m. LIVE PT) and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on-demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers or on-demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).

2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Full Nominees List

Meet The First-Time Nominee: Davido On The Rise Of African Music & Making 'Timeless' Songs
Davido

Photo: Stephen Tayo

interview

Meet The First-Time Nominee: Davido On The Rise Of African Music & Making 'Timeless' Songs

A standard-bearer of Afrobeats, Davido celebrates three nominations at the 2024 GRAMMYs: Best Global Music Performance, Best Global Music Album and Best African Music Performance — the latter of which helped him become part of history.

GRAMMYs/Jan 31, 2024 - 04:36 pm

Davido has dedicated his life to his African roots. From paying tribute to the Yoruba people on his debut album, 2012's Omo Baba Olowo, to hosting the inaugural A.W.A.Y Festival last November, the Nigerian-American singer/songwriter/producer's pride is undeniable.

That's part of what makes Davido's first-ever GRAMMY nominations so special. Not only is he nominated for three golden gramphones at the 2024 GRAMMYs, but he's nominated for the first-ever Category honoring African music.

Along with Davido, the Best African Music Performance Category features some of the continent's best and brightest talent, Ayra Starr, Tyla, Burna Boy, and ASAKE & Olamide. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Davido's nominated track is also his biggest to date: "UNAVAILABLE," his thumping hit with South African producer Musa Keys that reached No. 3 on the Billboard U.S. Afrobeats Songs chart in 2023.

"It feels incredible to be a part of history," Davido expresses to GRAMMY.com over email. "Hopefully there are more African categories added in the future." 

For now, African music is also honored in the Best Global Music Album and Best Global Music Performance Categories — both of which feature Davido's work. His acclaimed fourth album, Timeless, is nominated in the former Category, while sultry album cut "FEEL" is in the latter.

With Burna Boy also nominated in both Categories, Afrobeats is the only genre to appear twice in each. It's a reflection of African genres' fiery ascent over the past few years. "It's been at a peak, reaching mainstream [attention] the past few years that I don't think it's ever been at before," Davido says of African music. "It's an amazing thing to witness and be a part of."

Timeless marked an important point in Davido's career, as it was his first album in nearly three years after releasing two back to back, 2019's A Good Time and 2020's A Better Time. While he says it's his most personal work to date, Davido wanted to make sure the final result was exactly what its title indicated.

"I wanted to go for something that would transcend the 'here and now' fads," he explains. "When people listen back to it 20 years later, I want it to hit the same as people listening to it now."

The three-year gap between albums helped foster that, as it allowed Davido to reset and recalibrate. "I think it gave me time to not only reconnect with my family, but to reconnect with myself too," he adds. "I think I needed that time to come back even better than before and do what I do best — spread joy through music."

That joy certainly permeated the sessions for Timeless, which contains both "FEEL" and "UNAVAILABLE." While he can't put his finger on it, he notes a "special" and "different" atmosphere to this music-making. "I just wanted to let go and have a good time with creating my music and how I was feeling," Davido says. "I think both those tracks encapsulate that."

Whether he takes home a golden gramophone on Feb. 4 or not, 2024 will be a banner year for Davido. Ahead of attending the GRAMMYs for the first time in his career, he played a sold-out show at London's O2 on Jan. 28, and he'll play Accor Arena in Paris on Jan. 31. He has three more arena dates on the books for April, including New York City's famed Madison Square Garden on April 17.

When it comes to other goals for the year, Davido's mood is ascendant — and he hopes to keep it that way. "Working on more new music, doing more shows and staying positive are my plans and goals for this year," Davido reveals.

As the rise of African music continues, Davido has proven that he'll strive to stay at the forefront. Wherever he takes his music from here, one thing is certain: he'll always make sure it's timeless.

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