Nigerian superstar Davido recently dropped a new album, “Timeless.” This album is great — it represents a complex blending of languages, aesthetics and artists that creates a deep and influential soundscape and exposes Davido’s massive potential.
Davido’s music is hard to pin down to a single genre or mood, but if one label applies to him, it’s Afrobeats. Afrobeats is less of a genre and more of an evolving stylistic trend — a blending of Yoruba rhythms and sounds with contemporary Black American sounds, from jazz to soul to R&B to hip-hop. There is tremendous diversity within Afrobeats since there are so many styles it pulls from, and the genre is evolving at an ever-increasing pace thanks to social media, taking influence from artists around the world. Afrobeats could be described as a fusion between genres as diverse as house, hip-hop, Yoruba music and highlife.
The album’s opening track, “OVER DEM,” introduces listeners to Davido with a quick saxophone solo and a strong percussion section, leading into a laid-back semi-ethereal beat with light, floaty, bubbly synths and Davido’s voice. Within the first 30 seconds of the song, the listener is exposed to a signature element of Afrobeats and Davido’s music: the blending of languages. Davido sings in three languages — English, Yoruba and Igbo — and he intermingles them throughout, creating an exceptionally smooth flow and enabling him to express himself more thoroughly than he could in a single language. Davido lyrically sets himself up as the David in a world full of Goliaths — a move that reads as a reference to the death of his son in a tragic accident a few years ago.
“UNAVAILABLE” opens with a complicated percussion section involving at least five instruments blending together to create a complex rhythmic undercurrent. The lyrics are half Yoruba and half English, but Davido is able to present such a coherent lyrical vibe that the listener can easily pick up on the emotion. The chorus sees really active and twangy drums driving the song forward into a Musa Keys feature that switches up the vocal sound while maintaining the fundamental musical feel.
On “KANTE,” Davido creates a more R&B sound while still maintaining Latin rhythms and a constant electronic presence. Nigerian singer Fave leads the song with powerful, beautiful and always-expressive vocals, backed by a strong constant percussive presence and a saxophone line. As she exits and Davido enters, the background track briefly backs out, making the rhythms feel even more palpable than ever when the track re-enters.
“NA MONEY” features another complicated percussion section, this time alongside classical African guitar sounds. The song features a tragically short feature from legendary Beninese singer-songwriter and five-time Grammy Award winner Anjelique Kidjo, who makes the most of her 30 seconds on the album with a stunning solo that lets her show off her incredibly expressive voice and artistic flair.
“Champion Sound” is probably the most stylistically distinct song on the album, blending the rhythms we’ve seen on the rest of the album with more of a hip-hop vibe. Davido features South African rapper Focalistic who raps in Sepitori, a blend of Sesotho, Setswana and various slang that is on its way to becoming a first language. Focalistic is adept at conveying a mood and feeling through his annunciation and flow that can overwhelm language barriers. Davido is right, Focalistic is “with the Champion Sound.”
While Davido’s style isn’t exactly unique, it differs from much of American music in two significant ways. Firstly, it blends sounds and styles from around the world in such a holistic and expert way that enables global audiences to relate to and understand the musical patterns behind it. Secondly, Davido’s constant language-switching and featuring of multilingual artists enables the album to coherently express more messages than it ever could in a single language.
I’d recommend checking out this Davido album and keeping an eye out for any new projects to which he contributes. He has undeniable talent — “Timeless” is exceptionally well-produced and reflects Davido’s exceptional ability to blend genres and languages. He shows huge potential with his occasional use of metaphor and his selection of fantastic features. Davido’s not going anywhere — and if he keeps making music like this, his celebrity will only grow.
Rowan Gray CM ’26 is from Sharon, Massachusetts. He wants you to know that all Oxford commas in this piece were violently deleted by his copy editors.