In case you missed it, there has been an intensified and raging debate on and offline on who is the better artist between two of Nigeria/Africa’s leading pop artists, Wizkid and Davido.While the rivalry between the two artists has been ongoing for years, it has now taken a new turn for the worse, in my view.
It all started last month when Davido mocked Wizkid after the release of singles off Wizkid’s new EP “Sounds from the other side.” The songs included “Come Closer” which featured Drake, although Drake never appeared in the official music video. In response to Wizkid’s releases, Davido took to his Snapchat to mock Wizkid:
“Nah ‘pon pon’ sounds dey reign now oooo! No Jonze, all other sounds na the least for now. Lmao!”
The statement above essentially means Wizkid’s music failed to be creatively relevant, at least on the continent. Wizkid, in response, hit back via Twitter:
“The game is only for the real! Catch up or stay local! Don’t blame anybody for ur failures! Pray and work hard kids!,” said the Ojuelegba crooner.
Adding, “U can’t hate on someone doing better than u in what u failed at! Learn and appreciate! Free ur mind from hate young kids. And remember kids! Drink more water!!”
These initial exchanges escalated even more. Davido, soon after, released a song titled ‘Summer Body’ featuring Olamide and in the song addressed Wizkid’s insult of calling him “local.” He sang, “With our Yankee passport/Dem say we local/You better catch up/I go see you later.”
Davido was born in the U.S. and is an American citizen. “Yankee” is Pidgin English for the West i.e. America, UK etc., depending on the context used. Wizkid was born and raised in Nigeria. Davido, in the line above, calls out the irony of a Nigerian artist who needs a visa to even enter the U.S. calling an American artist “local.” He tells Wizkid to “catchup.”
The “beef” did not end there. Wizkid upon hearing the aforementioned song responded via Twitter, “My people make una remember say Yankee passport no be baba blue, e no dey cure frog voice.” Basically, people remember that an American passport cannot cure a “frog voice,” referencing Davido’s voice. Davido has a naturally hoarse voice.
Needless to say, all hell broke loose and it has been Davido versus Wizkid’s fans, the public, bloggers, and media taking sides on who the more superior artist is. A few industry influencers have stepped in to try to redirect the attention of the two artists but it doesn’t appear to be working.
So, let me add my 50 Kobo for all it is worth in hopes that it nips this silly “beef” in the butt. Don’t get me wrong. A friendly rivalry is great. But when it becomes silly and distracts from propelling the music and Africa forward, then, of course, it is time to speak on it.
Between Wizkid and Davido, who is the better artist? NONE. These two both suffer from the same disease.
“What disease Ms. Uduak,” you ask? It’s a disease of not knowing their worth. Folks, we do not need to get into the substance of their work i.e. their music. What’s really on the chopping block, as far as I am concerned, is their clear lack of understanding of their value.
I’ll start with Davido.
DAVIDO’S DISEASE – LACK OF KNOWING SELF-WORTH/VALUE
Davido acts and walks around like he has to constantly apologize, and dumb down himself to the point of stupidity for being the son of a billionaire. So far so good, nothing has emerged on the Nigerian political scene to suggest that his family’s wealth was attained with unclean hands. So, I don’t understand, for the life of me, why Davido, in his personal and professional dealings, chooses to designate himself and act the role of the music industry’s prodigal son.
Focusing on his professional dealings although his personal shenanigans further underscores my point, how does an artist who had full creative control, owns his own record company, consistently earns great income, consistently tours the world, has attained critical mass in Africa for his music and was building momentum in Europe and North America, give up his creative control to sign a deal with Sony Music where he needs permission to put out music? How does that happen?
Davido boasted that he had the best team representing his interest and who helped him broker his deal. So what happened? We all know what happened. After signing the contract and allegedly receiving an advance that was nothing to write home about given who he is and his reach, Davido came ranting to his fans and the public about how he never wanted to sign the contract, how he was forced to sign it because of the immense pressure from his family, and how he gave up his creative control which forced him to have to beg Sony to release his music in a timely fashion. In fact, does anyone remember how he complained so much about Sony postponing the release of his EP, ‘Son of Mercy?’ Anyone remember when he dropped the single ‘Gbagbe oshi’ off the EP, and the geographic limitation, per his contract and his representation, that prevented many of his fans from seeing the video in certain regions? Does anyone recall the EP? Not really? Well, you won’t be the only one. Davido complained about Sony doubting his ability to succeed as an African artist globally.
“First of all, I didn’t even want to take the deal because I didn’t need it. I was doing tours all over Africa with 50,000 to 80,000, people so it was like why am I signing the deal?” He said in an interview with the Guardian.
“They tried to fix me up with a producer and I decided to come home, but I’m still signed to them, it’s going good. They have realized how much potential is here because even when I am all over the world it is my African songs that even the oyibo people f*** with.”
After being completely frustrated and fed up with all the restrictions which he made a habit of sharing on social media, he later fired his manager Kamal Ajiboye that was allegedly behind brokering the deal, yet couldn’t seem to move the needle forward, and decided to return to the continent, and “to basics.”
Given the above brief look at Davido, is Davido better than Wizkid? Definitely NOT. On the business front, he suffers from a lack of recognition of his true value because if he didn’t, he would never have signed the type of deal he did with Sony. In my view, if Davido realized his true value, he would also not even place himself in the same category as Wizkid. If he used his brain well, he would be an investor, if he so desired, in Wizkid and even sign Wizkid to his label, create an imprint, or acquire Wizkid’s company as a subsidiary of his company DMW because he can, believes in Wizkid’s music, and can create the infrastructure with a brilliant team to help ensure that Nigerian/African music goes global.
I believe that Davido has to truly embrace his identity as the son of a billionaire in the true sense of the word, and apply or learn the necessary business skills to be in the room with the likes of Sony, Apple, Tidal etc. executives, not as an artist, but as a fellow investor or partner in global content acquisition and monetization. In fact, he should know that he has Africa cornered, all eyes are on Africa and should be using his immense influence for innovative deal making to move himself and Africa forward.
For the intellectual property he is creating, he, of course, needs to in addition to his live entertainment income think through, position and get his music catalog sorted out to earn royalties that will continue into future generations.
WIZKID SUFFERS FROM THE SAME DISEASE
Well if Davido is not better than Wizkid, then Wizkid must be the better artist, not so? Definitely NOT. Let’s look at Wizkid. Unlike Davido, Wizkid is smart to enter into a licensing agreement through his company Starboy Entertainment Limited with RCA for distribution of his music. Unlike Davido who is stuck with outright ownership of his masters by Sony demonstrated with the following notice accompanying all of his music videos since his signing of the Sony deal, “(C) 2017 Sony Music Entertainment International Limited,” and the following accompanying his ‘Son of Mercy EP,’ “℗ 2016 Sony Music Entertainment International Limited,” Wizkid has a different situation.
His new EP “Sounds from the Other Side,” has the following notice, “℗ 2017 Starboy Entertainment Ltd., under exclusive license to RCA Records.” If you all recall, I discussed the assignment of rights vs. licensing on this blog and in numerous podcast episodes, including AML episode 13. Think of it as owning a house. You can sell your house or you can rent it. Davido has sold his house. Wizkid rents it and still owns all rights in the home as the landlord. Wizkid retains copyright ownership in his masters by virtue of having granted a license through his company Starboy Entertainment to RCA Records. Davido, on the other hand, does not because the copyright notices on his work indicate Sony owns his masters, at least for his newly created songs.
We also know that Wizkid appeared as a featured artist on Drake’s ‘One Dance’ which we now know has been massively successful, and Wizkid will also receive royalties for his contribution. But here’s the problem with Wizkid. He too, like Davido, suffers from a serious lack of self-esteem/ knowing his value. Let’s go back to his insults targeted at Davido.
- He calls Davido a “failure” because Davido has CHOSEN to return to Nigeria and Africa. Think about that folks. This is deep, especially coming from an artist who influences millions. Wizkid is telling Nigerian and African youths that they are failures, even if they are as wealthy as Davido and born in America because they have not been a featured artist like he was on Drake’s ‘One Dance’ song. Wizkid’s belief is that if you do not feature on a song by an American or another western artist that has a global reach, you are a failure. If you also choose to return to Africa and focus on the continent, you are definitely a failure because you must be in the U.S. and be validated by Americans to be successful. Folks, this is what a man who does not understand his value sounds like. His kind of mentality is also why it should not surprise us when we hear of situations like the Dammy Krane identity and credit card fraud case. Davido does NOT need to be in America when he is and can live comfortably like a king in Africa. Further, all eyes, including that of American music industry stakeholders are on Africa for new income streams for their artists. Does Wizkid not know this? If not, why not?
- He also calls Davido “local”. Indeed, as Davido points out, the irony of it. Calling an American born citizen “local” when Wizkid needs a visa to even enter and stay in the U.S. to produce music. How bizarre is this?
- Finally, Wizkid thinks his work as a featured artist on Drake’s song makes him more superior than Davido. Because so far, that is what has propelled him onto the global music map. This mentality again shows Wizkid does not know his value. When Seyi Shay granted a television interview while visiting the Caribbean, she told us how Wizkid’s ‘One Dance’ came to be. She said ‘One Dance’ was Wizkid’s song. He wrote it and produced it with Nigerian producers Legendury Beatz and Sarz. Drake liked the song, stripped and tweaked the song to his liking and debuted the song as Drake’s featuring Wizkid and Kyla. After Seyi Shay’s statement, Wizkid cursed her out on social media because he clearly did not want to sabotage his relationship with Drake. Plus, he may have breached a clause in his contract with Drake that called for confidentiality, if included in the contract. However, since Wizkid will not let us hear word let’s examine this song that makes him feel more superior than Davido and other “local artists”.
Wizkid was a featured artist. He is also listed as a songwriter. So, I am sure he thinks this means he will receive royalties for ever and ever, amen. However, it’s all contingent on the exploitation and proper administration of the song (in terms of royalty collection), especially after it peaks. Also, since Wizkid thinks “local artists” should “catchup,” how come he couldn’t “catch up” with Drake to even have Drake show up on his video ‘Come Closer?’ If Seyi’s statement is to be believed, Wizkid came through huge for Drake, and Drake, till date, couldn’t be bothered to just show face on Wizkid’s video? Isn’t that “failure” by the myopic standard that Wizkid has set for Davido?
Folks, really, we can’t be having this kind of dumb “beef.” It’s stupid and embarrassing. I always say we have a blueprint to follow. Look what Reggaeton has done. Look at the current number one song in the world. It’s ‘Despacito’ by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee and has just earned the title of the most streamed song of all time at 4.6billion plays. The song was already charting before Justin Bieber jumped on it for a remix.
What sets Daddy Yankee apart?
- is self-made and has not left his base or his spanish heritage.
- Daddy Yankee DOES NOT have a traditional record deal with any major labels. He is independent.
- he owns ALL of his masters.
- he owns his channel on You Tube.
- he owns his own VEVO channel, the only artist to do so, and directly negotiated the deal without large record labels serving as intermediaries.
- he negotiated a distribution deal instead with the majors because he told them he sold less units of music but made more money, than if he signed with them.
- he believes in the kind of music he makes and has set the standard for Latin musicians worldwide with his enterprising spirit.
- he keeps expanding into new markets, including Africa.
Wizkid, it is not that serious. Eat humble pie and learn to validate yourself. No African artist should be called a “failure” or “local” because they are not operating from the U.S., or have not featured on a song they produced, yet sold for chummy change to a major Canadian/American artist. And if you will call someone a “failure” or “local”, Davido is not that person.
Davido, understand your value. You are playing too small. Small mind, small thinking, small everything. Know your value. This designated prodigal son role in the music industry that you have chosen to play is doing a major disservice to an industry which you are uniquely positioned to really help propel forward.
So who is better? After the thesis I just wrote, isn’t it clear? 🙂 NONE. They both suffer from the same disease, a lack of not knowing their value/self-worth.
Daddy Yankee at MIDEM
Luis Fonsi – Despacito ft. Daddy Yankee
Luis Fonsi – Despacito ft. Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber
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