Davido is picking up the pace. After he released his first album ‘Omo Baba Olowo’ in 2012, the American-born Nigerian star waited a full seven years before releasing a follow-up, last year’s ‘A Good Time’. Nigerian pop tends to focus on singles, but this time the Afrobeats icon is back with another album in just under 12 months. Clearly, he wants to strike while the iron is hot – and irons don’t come much hotter than Davido after that record.
Streamed over a billion times around the world, it was a massive breakout success that helped establish him as a truly global star (fittingly he’s based between Atlanta, his hometown, and Lagos). Suddenly the 27-year-old was on the cover of Billboard and rapping in a mocked-up living room on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. There were even those who sought to name him ‘King of Afrobeats’ – although Wizkid and recent NME cover star Burna Boy both contest that particular crown.
All of which is to say that expectations are high for the ‘A Good Time’ follow-up, fanned to even greater heights by Davido’s gloriously cocky decision to name it ‘A Better Time’. It’s a promise he comes close to delivering. While it remains to be seen whether it can capture the zeitgeist in the way that its predecessor did, this 17-track collection certainly matches up in terms of tunes. You’ll likely already be familiar with opening track ‘Fem’, a swaying, joyous party anthem that became a massive single even before it took on its curious second life as a protest song embraced by the #ENDSARS movement against police brutality in Nigeria.
Another stand-out is ‘Holy Ground’, overseen by producer SperoacHBeatz, a wavy hymn of infatuation that pairs Davido with an extremely laidback Nicki Minaj – clearly his good vibes are contagious. That’s true of the whole record, which is heavy on steel drums, synths and horns and light on trouble. By the time closing track ‘On My Way’ arrives, featuring the Kenyan pop group Sauti Sol and Davido quoting British soul group Sade’s 1985 hit ‘The Sweetest Taboo’, we defy you not to have turned your lockdown living room into an impromptu dancefloor.
At a time when feel-good moments are at a premium, ‘A Better Time’ makes a convincing case that the problems of the world really might just melt away – even if only momentarily – though a sense of escapism and the enduring powers of art and pop music. Just put yourself in Davido’s hands.
Release date: November 13
Record label: Sony Music