Davido talks of hopes to collaborate with BTS and Harry Styles following Dubai show

For the afrobeats star, Timeless completes a trilogy that began with his sophomore album A Good Time

Davido launched his much-anticipated fourth album Timeless on March 31. Photo: Frank Fieber
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He is one of the foremost names in afrobeats, and while his songs have an anthemic crowd-pleasing pull, Davido often draws on his personal experiences during the music-making process.

His fourth album, Timeless, comes three years after his last record. For the US-Nigerian singer, whose real name is David Adedeji Adeleke, it has been a time of towering highs and tragic lows.

In 2020, he broke his own YouTube record when his single, FEM, became the fastest Nigerian music video to reach one million views. The video got 1.8 million views within 24 hours of its release, breaking a record previously held by his song Blow My Mind

He then released his third album, A Better Time, which featured stellar guest appearances including Nicki Minaj, Lil Baby and Nas. It climbed the US charts, peaking at number two on the US Heatseekers Albums chart and number four on the US World Albums billboard.

In 2022, Davido was featured on Hayya Hayya, a single from the official Fifa World Cup Qatar soundtrack, alongside American singer Trinidad Cardona and Qatari singer Aisha. Later that year, he held the first Are We African Yet (AWAY) music festival in Atlanta, Georgia, where he was born. The festival would feature leading Nigerian musicians including Kizz Daniel, Pheelz, Lojay and BNXN.

But then, in October 2022, tragedy struck Davido when his son, David Ifeanyi Adeleke Jr, drowned in the pool of the musician’s Banana Island house. He was three years old.

In the eye of this dizzying storm of success and heartbreak, Davido entered the studio, pouring himself into his next album. It would turn out to be his most collaborative yet, involving many of those close to him.

“I am a musician and music to me has never been public,” he says on the heels of his performance at Blu Dubai. “With this album, I took my time. Even with the process of mixing and mastering, and the selection of the songs.”

Normally, Davido prefers to go through the song selection process on his own. But for Timeless, he reached out to family and friends, sending them about 50 recorded tracks and asking for their favourites.

“I had a crazy process to pick the songs for the album,” he says. “I sent them about 50 songs and asked everybody to pick their best 20. From there, I kind of knew what people liked. Even the songs that are blowing up now, we kind of knew that they were going to.”

For Davido, Timeless completes a trilogy that began with his sophomore album A Good Time. The title of the album, he says, is a nod to “how my music is actually timeless”.

“Today, I perform songs that are 13 years old,” he says. “It has the same feeling. Feelings are timeless. My vision for this album is that 10 years later, 20 years later, you’ll play it and have the same feeling.”

The artwork of the album, meanwhile, is dedicated to his late son.

“My son loved elephants,” he says. “He loved jungles, trees and stuff like that. The album has that artistic direction, shoutout to Tycoone, my creative director. It was an amazing idea. The artwork has the hourglass visual, it was beautifully composed.”

Timeless took two years to make. An amapiano record blending elements of afrobeats, dancehall, ragga and afropop, the album features several big and burgeoning talents, including Dexta Daps, Fave, Angelique Kidjo and Skepta.

The album debuted at number 10 in the UK charts and at 37 on the Billboard 200, and also broke the record for most plays on the streaming platform Boomplay Nigeria, raking in 22 million streams in just four days.

Having worked with some of the most luminary names in the industry, Davido says he has a number of collaborations he still hopes for, some of which his audience might not expect.

“I want to work with Harry Styles,” he says. “I’ve worked with Drake already, but I want to do more definitely. I want to work with Billie Eilish and BTS too.”

Davido is currently in the thick of his tour for the album. After his performance in Dubai, he is set to travel to the US and Canada, performing in several arenas before travelling to Europe, Australia, and finishing off in Africa.”

Having performed across the world, Davido says Dubai has a special place in his tour and he always looks forward to his visits.

“Dubai has been lit every single time, since the beginning of my career,” he says. “I remember 10 years ago I had a concert, where 7,000 people show, and then at the Coca Cola Arena. Dubai has a special place. They love me and I love them.”

Updated: May 22, 2023, 5:56 AM