Before 2011, there were hardly any younger artistes in the Nigerian music space. The industry was ruled by artistes in their mid twenties i.e P Square, D’banj, Tu Face, 9ice, Olu Mantain and the other raves of the early – mid 2000’s. Whilst they all added their quota to pushing the envelope forward, younger Nigeria still yearned for its own voice. The music industry was a grown man’s game until the Banky W and Demuren Brothers led label, Empire Mates Entertainment released Wizkid’s debut album “Superstar” in 2011 amidst critical and commercial acclaim. The album was the soundtrack of young Nigeria and Africa at large for at least a year after release. Wizkid was indeed the hottest thing in Africa, closing all shows and sought after for hooks. No one was touching him. Wizkid inspired a whole generation who felt left out but very much deserving. Wizkid exposed Nigeria to the abundant talent embedded in its younger youth. He undoubtedly opened the door and made it appear acceptable for younger youths to chase their dreams other than education.
After Wizkid’s success the industry witnessed an influx of younger and ambitious youths like Burna Boy, Dammy Krane, Flowssick, L.O.S, Yung 6ix and many more. Wizkid would soon meet his match. Talented teenager, Davido had been making music in Atlanta with KB International , a group with his cousins Sina Rambo and B-Red along with some other college friends. The talented teen then decided to discover his own path back home in Lagos. He sought the services of arguably the most experienced teen in the music industry, Asa Asika (nephew to Storm Records boss, Obi Asika) to manage his breakthrough. They drew up a stellar strategy and executed it in record time. He was able to get Storm affiliate, Naeto C on his debut single ‘Back When’ and took it a notch higher with second single, ‘Dami Duro’ which was the anthem of 2012. The crew of Davido, Asa, B Red and Sina Rambo also became poster boys for younger Nigeria, representing team effort and youth power, unlike Wizkid who was guided by Banky W. Davido and Asa Asika appeared independent relying on their efforts which resonated with the younger generation.
Through Davido’s rise, Wizkid and Davido appeared to maintain a cordial relationship and were often spotted hanging out together. In anticipation of Davido’s debut album, ‘O.B.O THE GENESIS’, news about a Wizkid collabo circulated and Davido seemed to confirm its existence in various interviews. But on release of the album, there was no Wizkid verse, neither was he at Davido’s sold out Eko Hotel album release concert.
Wizkid’s star remained undimmed (In fact, he was able to secure a management deal with Tinie Tempah’s Disturbing London outfit) and they both went on to release hits and garner more success, but there were still whispers of bad blood between the two stars. The evidence didn’t stack up though as pictures of Wizkid and Davido frequently appeared online.
But in the last week, after a picture from hypeman, Special ED was posted on Instagram, the two stars seemed to have had a disagreement of some sort and took to instagram to subliminally taunt each other. It reached its head when Davido threatened to get physical on Twitter. Davido’s artist, B-Red had been promoting a single featuring Wizkid. He has gone mute on the record and begun promotion for a new single with Phyno. Everything points to the two kings being at loggerheads. Fans have already started taking sides and it is making for interest conversation on who’s better. The similarities in style just makes matters worse; the two acts are cut from thenAfro Pop genre and are both in the same age bracket. Whilst Wizkid might have had a head start, Davido has risen within record time and accomplished close to all Wizkid has.
Some might argue that Wizkid seems to lack quality control with his rapid releases (often similar sounding freestyles) and the recently poorly received videos for Show You The Money and Bombay Ft. Phyno. Davido on the other hands seems more calculated with his releases, and they all reach the number one spot upon release. This year Davido has had ‘Skelewu’ ,’Gobe’, ‘Aye’ and ‘Tchelete’ as number one hits in the country and continent at different points in time and it showed in the number of awards received this year. In terms of business, both acts have risen to the occasion. Wizkid’s Starboy imprint has produced rising star, L.A.X and boasts the best roster of producers including Legendury Beatz, Maleek Berry and Dokta Frabz. Davido who came in the game as a boss with cousins, Sina Rambo and B-Red and producer Shizzi has expanded his team signing Ghanaian act Deekay and Donagog and young producer JoshBeatz. All of his artistes are given efficient platforms hence they are well known by fans, although none of them are yet to deliver a hit record. Both acts have crossed boarders internationally with BET Awards to their credit. Wizkid seems to be more favoured internationally with a record deal with Konvict and his affiliation with Tinie Tempah. That link has strengthened his presence in the UK with a hit like ‘Don’t Dull’ getting radio spins. Wizkid toured with Disturbing London’s Tinie Tempah and performed at the 2013 Wireless Festival. Wizkid has hung out with and released songs with people like Chris Brown, Wale and Akon. There are also rumoured collaborations with Chris Brown, The Game, Ty Dolla Sign and Rihanna.
Davido is also getting international recognition. At the peak of the ‘Dami Duro’ craze, Davido turned down a record deal from Akon’s Konvict Music. The two still collaborated on the Dami Duro remix. More recently Davido recorded with Meek Mill and his next single features Wale. Both acts are also highly sought after by brands. They both represent MTN. Wizkid also represents Pepsi.
Wizkid and Davido are both pushing the envelope and have become the faces of Afrobeats internationally. If indeed both acts are at odds, one can not deny the entertainment factor which will indirectly benefit the audience. Music is fiercely competitive and with both acts topping the chats, it is very possible for nerves to be itched.
The war of words seems to have bordered on the capacities of their shows which makes the debacle appear competitive. Despite the physical threats from Davido, it is unlikely it would end physically. It is not strange for the two biggest acts in a space to be at odds. It has happened in cases of Jay Z and Nas, Vybz Kartel and Movado, Nicki Minaj and Lil Kim, Bow Wow and Romeo etc. The periods of these debacles went on to be memorable moments in the history of the respective genres, the most memorable being the BIG and Tu Pac beef which extended boiling points and resulted in the death of both legends, a practical example of the negative results of beef.
The Nigerian music space is mature enough to experience a healthy competition. Unlike past clashes between the likes of Rugged Man and 9ice, these two are idols of young Nigeria and the industry has matured to the point where artistes get total attention of the public. If at all this war continues, it could mark a landmark in the history of modern Nigerian music. We can only sit back and watch as things unfold, we could be about to witness history in Nigerian music, or it could just be a brief disagreement between the two. However, as both acts put finishing touches to their sophomore efforts, expect the fight for dominance to reach its head.