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Davido Biography: Music, relationships, global recognition, 30BG, controversies

Davido Adeleke biography

Davido, whose real name is David Adedeji Adeleke, is an American-born Nigerian singer, songwriter, performer, philanthropist and music producer.

He rose to fame in the Nigerian music scene in 2012 following the release of his hit single Dami Duro, the second single off of his debut album, O.B.O (Omo Baba Olowo). He has since worked his way up to become one of the most recognised and revered Afrobeats icons across the globe.

Davido’s family background, parents and education

Davido was born on 21 November 1992 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, to Nigerian businessman, Prince Adedeji Adeleke, and late educationist, Dr Veronica Adeleke. Prince Adedeji Adeleke is the CEO of Pacific Holdings Limited, a company that deals in steel, oil, gas, etc. He is also the founder and the president of Adeleke University. Davido’s mother, Dr Vero Adeleke, was a university lecturer until her death on 3 March 2003.

Davido's mother - Veronica Adeleke
Davido shared this picture of his late mother, Veronica Adeleke, on Instagram

Davido attended the British International School in Victoria Island, Lagos. He then proceeded to back to the US to study Business Administration at Oakwood university before he got distracted by music and dropped out. He eventually graduated from the Babcock University in Nigeria.

Davido’s early music ambition

Davido’s passion for music became apparent during his days at Oakwood University. According to Davido, his father had dropped him off at the university with his passport, $2000 cash and registration documents to study Business Administration at the historically black Christian institution. However, Davido’s passion for music meant that he would abandon the course to pursue his ambitions elsewhere.

At Oakwood, one of Davido’s upstairs’ neighbours was Jaymo, an American kid who had full studio equipment in his room. Davido connected with Jaymo and confided in him that he too was interested in making music. The American took Davido to the Guitar Centre where he spent on studio equipment, $500 out of the $2000 cash given to him by his father.

From that moment, music creation stole Davido’s time and focus from his studies. His grades nosedived and after three semesters, he dropped out and left the school, keeping it a secret from his father. Meanwhile, his father continued to send money to him for school and living expenses while Davido was busy having a good time – clubbing and partying with the money. He eventually went low key and moved to London where he shifted his focus from music production to vocals.

In 2011, Davido returned to Nigeria. However, on landing at the airport, his father had him arrested by police officers. That was certainly not the warm welcome he probably hoped for and which he would have received had he completed his courses at the Oakwood University.

However, Davido who was in his late teens reached a compromise with his father – he would attend a private university in Nigeria while putting his music ambition on hold for the time being. Consequently, he applied for and was accepted at the Babcock University, Ilishan Remo, Ogus State, from where he graduated with a BA (Music) in 2015. Rumour had it that he was graduated with a First Class but the singer went on Twitter to dispel the rumour, revealing that he was graduated with a Second Class.

Davido’s music career

Davido broke into the limelight in 2012 with the release of Dami Duro, his second single. Dami Duro is an uptempo club banger with energetic bright synths and lively drums through which he announced himself as “Omo Baba Olowo“, which means “Son of a rich man”. The song became one of the biggest hits in the Nigerian music scene of the era and positioned Davido as one of the music artists to look out for and getting him booked across Africa.

The ‘Omo Baba Olowo‘ was still a student at the Babcock University at the time and with the mega-success of the hit song, he declared he was no longer interested in studying business. So his father allegedly “paid the university to start a music department for an inaugural class of one,” according to this Wikipedia entry on Davido.

Before the release of Dami Duro, Davido’s first single – Back When – was released in 2011. Back When was a fast-paced banger that was not originally well accepted but eventually resurfaced following the success of Dami Duro, to receive massive embrace from the streets and clubs. The song featured Naeto C, one of Nigeria’s soft rappers that dominated the Nigerian music industry of that era.

Davido’s story since he hit the limelight with the release of Dami Duro has continued to get better as the DMW boss keeps breaking new boundaries and raising the bar higher with every new record.

On 17 July 2012, He released his debut album titled O.B.O on HKN Records, a record label he co-owned with his brother. The album had production inputs from Jay Sleek, Maleek Berry, GospelOnTheBeatz, Spells, Dokta Franz, Shizzi, Mr Chidoo and Theory Sounds. It featured artists like Naeto C, Sina Rambo, B-Red, Kayswitch, Ice Prince and TuFace Idibia (also known as 2Baba). The album received mixed reviews from music critics. However, it won the Best R&B/Pop Album and was nominated for Album of the Year at The Headies 2013. It was also nominated for Best Album of the year at the 2013 edition of Nigeria Entertainment Awards.

Over the years, Davido has been releasing back to back hit singles although his sophomore album came more than seven years (on 22 November 2019) after the release of O.B.O. Some of Davido’s hit singles include Gobe,  a club banger that was released in February 2013 to positive reviews. On 13 August, he dropped Skelewu, another smash hit single that was remixed by Major Lazer. He followed that with Aye, another hit single that won the Hottest Single of the Year at the 2014 Nigeria Entertainment Awards and the Song of the Year at The Headies 2014. In May 2014, Davido released Tchelete, a South African kwaito flavoured afro-house hit on which he featured Mafikizolo. Some of his 2015 hits are Fans Mi, a collaborative effort with Meek Mill (an American rapper), Owl Ni Koko and The Sound.

In January 2016, Davido announced on Twitter that he had signed a record deal with Sony Music. The deal was brokered in part by Nigerian-born, US-based A&R, Efe Ogbeni, and would provide him with the necessary resources required to break into the American and European markets.

Davido signs Sony deal

Davido intended to release his second studio album supposedly titled Baddest in 2016 under the Sony deal but the album was never released due to undisclosed reasons. However, he released Son of Mercy, a five-track EP in October 2016 with guest appearances from Tinashe, Simi and Nasty C. The EP was a flop. Even Davido himself eventually expressed frustration regarding the project.

Then, in 2017, Davido renegotiated his contract with Sony due to creative control issues to enable him to make the kind of music he really wants without hindrances. And since then he has been dishing out one hit song after another starting with the song If.

Global recognition

Davido’s hit single If, released in February 2017, was an instant success and elicited massive positive responses from music critics and fans. The song penetrated the whole of Africa, made a bold statement in places beyond Africa including the US, transformed Davido’s career and introduced him to the much-coveted global recognition. Even the pied piper of R&B, R-Kelly couldn’t keep his calm when he listened to the song – he had to jump on the remix. Produced by Tekno, If won the Song of the Year award and the Best Pop Single at 2018 The Headies.

Since the release of If, Davido has also dropped other chart-topping hits including Fall, FIA, Assurance, Blow My Mind and Risky. He finally released his much-anticipated sophomore album titled A Good Time on 22 November 2019.

Fall did not just enjoy massive airplay on US radio stations but it went ahead to set the record as the longest-charting Nigerian pop song in Billboard History. Fall became so popular that it serves as a sing-along anthem at Davido’s performances across the world including the US. Busta Rhymes did a remix of the song with his artist Prayah before Sony had it taken down by YouTube and recently, on 5 December 2019, a remix version of Fall by Cardi B, one of US heavy trending artists, went viral on Instagram.

Blow My Mind, Davido’s collaboration with Chris Brown has kept setting records from the day it was released. It got more than one million streams in one day on Spotify, over 6.5 million views on YouTube in its first week and also debuted on the Billboard World Digital Sales Chart at number 3 in its first week.

“A Good Time” peaked at number 6 on the Billboard US World Music album on 7 December 2020. It spent 25 weeks on the chart.

The album also went Platinum in South Africa within 3 months of release. Two other songs on it also went Platinum at the time. They are “Blow My Mind” featuring American Chris Brown and “Risky” featuring Jamaican dancehall act, Popcaan, which went double Platinum.

On Tuesday, 28 July 2020, Columbia Records UK announced that “‘A Good Time’ has officially reached over 1 billion streams” on all platforms.

In 2020, Davido history as the first Nigerian artist to win an award at the South African Musc Awards (SAMA) for his album, A Good Time. Davido won the award under the Rest of Africa Category the virtual award ceremony held on Monday night of 3 August 2020.

These global achievements, obviously, are not just happening accidentally for Davido. They are a result of disciplined intentionality as can be seen from Davido’s actions and utterances. “I’ve lived the African dream, now I’m trying to get to the American dream,” he once told Billboard.

The Afrobeat superstar has sold out many of the biggest and most respected venues across the world including the 20,000 capacity 02 Arena in London. He has also shared stages with many international heavyweight musicians. He recently dished out a stunning performance as one of the main acts on 50 Cent’s show Tycoon Party in New Jersey alongside international music heavyweights like Trey Songz, Fabulous, Snoop, Camila and Jacques.

Davido business endeavours

Few months, after signing the Sony deal in 2016, Davido founded his own record label, Davido Music Worldwide (DMW). Mayorkun, Dremo, Honda, Peruzzi, Idowest, DJ Ecool, Ichaba and Lil Frosh are currently signed to the label as part of the 30BG. The record label has since become one of the top record labels in Africa.

In 2018, the singer said during an interview with GoldMyne TV that he would be venturing into new businesses.

I’m going to be opening new businesses this year, venturing into aviation, not only music, movies, yea, shooting movies,” he said.

He also revealed another business venture on his Instagram page in October 2018 when he posted a picture that showed him posing next to his beautifully decorated sport racing cars accompanied with the caption: “We not into music only; we do motorsports now so follow @chillingmotorsports for updates on the 30BG lifestyle.

In 2019, around the same time he released Blow My Mind, his hit collaboration with Chris Brown, Davido launched his mobile game app called 30BG Money Run Jungle.

Davido Collaborations

So, far Davido has done many collaborations with US/international artists.

List of Davido’s Collaboration with US artists

  1. Lower Body (with Chris Brown)
  2. Blow My Mind (with Chris Brown)
  3. Risky (with Popcaan)
  4. D&G (with Summer Walker)
  5. Choosy (with Fabolous & Jeremih)
  6. Gang (with Aya Nakamura)
  7. Fans mi (with Meek Mill)
  8. Fine Girl (with Wale & Olamide)
  9. How Long (with Tinashe)
  10. Pere (with Rae Sremmurd & Young Thug)
  11. Beautiful (with Clean Bandit & Love Ssega)
  12. Swing (with Quavo & Normani)
  13. Way too Fly (with A Boogie with Da Hoodie)
  14. Dun rich (with Popcaan)
  15. 2 AM (with Casanova & Tory Lanez)
  16. All I want (with Russ)

Davido has also collaborated with many African artists within and outside Nigeria.

List of Davido’s collaboration with Nigeria and other African artists

  1. Burna Boy
  2. Olamide,
  3. 2Bees
  4. MC Galaxy
  5. Kcee
  6. Sarkodie
  7. Runtown,
  8. MayD
  9. Lil Kesh
  10. Kizz Daniel
  11. Skales
  12. DJ Maphorisa
  13. Tekno
  14. Falz
  15. Krizbeatz
  16. Mystro
  17. Ayo Jay
  18. Larry Gaga
  19. L.A.X
  20. DJ Arafat
  21. Vector
  22. Mayorkun
  23. Zlatan
  24. Lyta
  25. Peruzzi
  26. Diamond Platnumz
  27. Nasty C.

Davido’s endorsement/brand ambassador deals

Davido has had endorsement deals with various brands over the years but the highly notable ones are the N30 million deal he signed with MTN at the beginning of his career in 2012, his deal with Guinness Nigeria for the Guinness World of More concert alongside Wizkid, D’Banj, P-Square, Phyno and others in 2014 and his endorsement deal with Infinix mobile phone.

Davido’s relationships

Marital status and relationship with Chioma Avril Rowland?

Davido is in a relationship and is currently engaged to Chioma Avril Rowland popularly known as Chef Chi. The two met while at Babcock University and have been together since then. However, the public only became aware of Davido invited Chioma to a private event in Ede, Osun State.

Davido took Chioma to a private event
Davido and Chioma during their first public outing as a couple

Thereafter, Chioma becomes a permanent fixture in Davido’s public life (and, of course privately) and the two frequently share photos and videos of themselves on social media.

On 2 September 2019, Davido’s family and Chioma’s family met for the marriage introduction. Then on September 2019, Davido made the engagement official when he proposed to Chioma who was heavily pregnant with his baby.  Davido shared a photo of the moment he proposed to Chioma on Instagram to the delight of fans and well-wishers.Davido proposes to Chioma

On 20 October 2019, Chioma put to bed a bouncing baby boy that the couple named David Adedeji Ifeanyi Adeleke Jr. Their wedding is set to take place sometime in 2020 and has been tagged #Chivido2020.

Davido’s baby mamas – previous relationships

Over the years, Davido has romantically been linked with other ladies including US-based Guinean model Sira Kante, Ghanaian model Nish Kards, skincare expert Funmi Aboderin, video vixen Staicay Brianar, Sophie Momodu (media mogul Dele Momodu’s cousin) and Atlanta-based Amanda Chioma.

Two of the ladies would eventually bore Davido two daughters, Imade and Veronica Adeleke.

Sophie Momodu, a niece to popular Nigerian publisher Dele Momodu, bore a daughter for Davido thereby becoming Davido’s first baby mama. Sophie Momodu gave birth to her and Davido’s daughter Aurora Imade Adeleke, born on the 14th of May 2015. Imade is the middle name of Davido’s late mother, Dr Veronica Adelee.

Davido’s second baby mama, Amanda Chioma, gave birth to Hailey Veronica Adeleke on 9th May 2017. Hailey’s middle name is in honour and memory of Davido’s late mother.

Davido frequently shares photos and videos of his daughters and seems super excited about his daughters.

Davido’s net worth 

According to Forbes Africa’s 2019 rating, Davido is the 5th richest musician in Africa with a net worth of $16M. The richest musician is Akon ($80 million), followed by Black Coffee ($60 million), then Don Jazzy ($30 million), followed by Wizkid ($20 million) and then Davido.

On average, the Afrobeat singer earns about $50,000 per show and he performs about 40 – 50 shows across the globe on an annual basis.

Davido owns houses both in Nigeria and the US and he has expensive automobiles including Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Panamera turbo, Rolls Royce Cullinan, Bentley, among others.

Davido also (partly? ) owns a private jet as depicted through one of his posts via on Twitter. The singer tweeted:

Air OBO soon land…youngest Nigga with a jet.”

My baby lands in two weeks.

Bought already… it’s not soup, it’s hard work and ambition!

However, there was at least one report that Davido only paid a fraction of the cost of the jet with other people co-owning the jet. The report also alleged that the c0-owners decided to give Davido prominence with regard to the jet to boost his show biz image.

Davido controversies

In August 2017, a video went viral on social media in which some police officers were seen shooting randomly into the air from a moving vehicle on the street. The vehicle was later reported to have belonged to Davido and the officers were said to be his police escorts. The incident became an issue as many people didn’t like the fact that such an act of public nuisance came from Davido and his police escorts.

Until 2017, there was a long-standing beef between Wizkid and Davido. The genesis of the beef is not really clear but some people believe it started when Davido and his crew allegedly walked out of the 2012 NEA Awards during Wizkid’s performance on stage. However, the beef wasn’t really official until 2014 when, having arrived in New York for a concert, Wizkid wrote social media: “Just landed in NYC! Let’s turn up! We do proper shows and proper venues.”

Davido responded to the post with: “Fake as* ni**a! That’s y he got none of his Day 1 ni**as around him! Pu**y!

Ever since those posts, it has always been a case of rivalry between the two. Whenever either Davido or Wizkid scored a major achievement, the social media rarely rests as fans of both artists wrangle about who between Davido and Wzkid is better. The beef officially ended in 2017 when Davido introduced Wizkid as his new best friend on stage during his 30BG concert in Lagos and they performed together.

Philanthropic activities

Though Davido has not set up any foundation or charity organisation, the artist has been known to have generosity tendencies towards his crew and to some people less fortunate people. He regularly gives money to students in need to help them pay their school fees.

In 2018, he quietly gave an airport staff the sum of 15 million naira to enable her to undergo a much-needed surgery. The staff was the person who made the donation public.

In March 2019, he went on a car shopping spree, buying expensive cars for his crew.

Davido’s record label, DMW, seems also to be a charity of some sorts rather than business, at least with regards to his artists going by a tweet he once shared:

I HAVE NEVER COLLECTED A DIME FROM ANY OF MY ARTIST EVEN THO THEY R UNDER CONTRACT. I don’t need the money I’d rather them use it to invest in themselves,” he claimed.

We couldn’t confirm the assertion but none of his crew members has publicly refuted the claim.

Awards and recognition

Davido has been nominated for over 87 awards, 42 out of which he won. Some of his notable wins include:

  1. Two BET Award
  2. Three MOBO Award
  3. Eight Headies Award
  4. Two Channel O Music Video Awards
  5. Sx Nigeria Entertainment Award
  6. Two Ghana Music Awards
  7. Two Dynamix All Youth Awards
  8. Three Soundcity MVP Awards
  9. Three Billboard Music Awards
  10. Two IHeartRadio Music Awards
  11. Two City People Entertainment Award, and
  12. One Future Award
  13. One South African Music Awards

30BG (30 Billion Gang)

One of the most known lyrics of Davido’s 2017 hit single, If, is “30 billion for your account o.” Davido has consequently adopted the tag 30BG for his crew, based off of the lyric, and started a movement around it.

The movement started with the #30BG hashtag and then the 30BG logo surfaced and Davido’s concerts are now called 30 Billion Concerts. Today, the movement has grown much more than a logo and hashtag with fans identifying with the phenomenon. Many of Davido’s most loyal fans add 30BG as a suffix to their social media handles, for example, @menace30bg. Such loyalty.

There is a website that sells 30BG-themed merchandise, but it’s not certain whether Davido is officially affiliated to the website.

Final Thoughts

Davido is, no doubt, a good role model to dreamers out there. Many people have spent their entire lives doing what they don’t really want to do simply because they buried their passion in order to satisfy their parents. So many would-have-been superstars have ended up as unhappy professors, lawyers and medical doctors because they gave up their dreams in order to please their parents. Who knows what would have happened had the 30BG boss settled for a career in business instead of going with his music ambition. Would he have been able to stand out in the business world as he does in the music industry? We don’t know the answer to the question but one might say that a lack of interest in one’s career doesn’t often result in professional success.

In the case of Davido, he went after his dream, eschewing parental expectations. In a manner, he was lucky as well, in the sense that he came on the scene when Afrobeats has started enjoying global recognition and acceptance. Although there is merit in the argument that Davido contributed to the surge in Afrobeat acceptance. However, the global awakening to the Afrobeats sounds was already there before Davido arrived on the scene. Nevertheless, he is unarguably one of the most respected figures in the industry today.

In a nutshell, Davido has truly succeeded on the African frontier and only seems to be at the beginning of his American dream; the 30BG boss is just getting started. We expect to see him around for a long time yet. It’s 30BG to the world.

Bonus information

Davido’s album

Omo Baba Olowo (2012) tracklist 

  1. All of You
  2. Back When (featuring Naeto C)
  3. New Skul Tinz (featuring Sina Rambo and B-Red)
  4. Adeleke
  5. Shina Adeleke
  6. Video
  7. Ekuro
  8. Down
  9. No Visa (featuring Sina Rambo)
  10. Enter the Center (featuring B-Red)
  11. Dollars In the Bank (featuring Kayswitch)
  12. Sade
  13. Gbon Gbon
  14. Feel Alright (featuring Ice Prince)
  15. Mary Jane
  16. For You (featuring 2 Face Idiba)
  17. Overseas (featuring Sina Rambo)
  18. Dami Duro
  19. Bless Me

Son of Mercy (2016) tracklist 

1. Gbagbe Oshi Lyrics
2. Maga 2 Mugu (Ft. Simi) Lyrics
3. Coolest Kid in Africa (Ft. Nasty C) Lyrics
4. Return Lyrics
5. How Long? (Ft. Tinashe) Lyrics

A Good Time (2019) tracklist: 

  1. Intro
  2. 1 Milli
  3. Check Am
  4. Disturbance (feat. Peruzzi)
  5. D & G (feat. Summer Walker)
  6. If
  7. Get To You
  8. Risky
  9. Sweet in The Middle (feat. Wurld, Naira Marley & Zlatan)
  10. Fall
  11. Green Light Riddim
  12. Big Picture (feat. Gunna, Dremo & A Boogie wit Da Hoodie)
  13. One Thing
  14. Assurance
  15. Blow My Mind (feat. Chris Brown)
  16. Company
  17. Animashaun (feat. Yonda)

Davido’s singles

Davido’s singles 2011

  1. Back When (featuring Naeto C)
  2. Dami Duro

Davido’s singles 2012

  1. Ekuro
  2. Overseas (featuring Sina Rambo)
  3. Gbon Gbon
  4. All of You
  5. Feel Alright (featuring Ice Prince)

Davido’s singles 2013

  1. One of a Kind
  2. Gobe
  3. Skelewu
  4. 2014
  5. Aye
  6. Tchelete (Goodlife) (featuring Mafikizolo)

Davido’s singles 2015

  1. Dodo
  2. Fans Mi (featuring Meek Mill)
  3. Owo Ni Koko
  4. The Sound (featuring Uhuru and DJ Buckz)
  5. The Money (featuring Olamide)

Davido’s singles 2016

  1. Gbagbe Oshi
  2. How Long (featuring Tinashe)
  3. Coolest Kid in Africa (featuring Nasty C)

Davido’s singles 2017

  1. If
  2. Fall
  3. Pere (featuring Rae Sremmurd and Young Thug)
  4. Fia
  5. Like Dat

Davido’s singles 2018

  1. Flora My Flawa
  2. Assurance
  3. Nwa Baby
  4. Wonder Woman

Davido’s singles 2019

  1. Blow My Mind (featuring Chris Brown)
  2. Risky (featuring Popcaan)