The Shuffle: Revisiting how Davido damned the underdog story with “Dami Duro”

And what it means for our generation

We love underdogs, even better, we love celebrity underdogs who rose from the ashes even more. Though everyone wants to be wealthy and everyone respects the successful, the more effort and struggle required for attaining the wealth, the more salacious the story when it has to be repackaged as a pitch. And like everything in entertainment, this an accurate reflection of what happens in our society.

In a country with a wide disparity between the social classes, mass exodus for greener pastures and suffering below poverty lines, it makes sense that we would be more receptive to someone who rose above their limitations because they feel more relatable to us. We don’t often hear wildly successful people admitting that their formal education or personal connections or funding is responsible for their success. No one wants to hear how that doors simply opened for you to walk in unless you first explain how you were up all night praying and fasting. And this forces people who simply can’t hide their privileges to come up with Falz’s Brother Taju-esque pseudo personalities and other gimmicks to show appeal to the masses.

However, King Sunny Ade who never shied away from admitting his royalty and Fela’s pride in his political upbringing are instances where embracing your privilege can work in the favour of the artist. King Sunny Ade was from an era when cultural traditions were still very appealing and helped give him an ‘African’ aesthetic for international media while Fela’s political linage added an edge to his social politicking.

Davido may have started off trying to edge a struggle narrative on “Back When”, but fortunately, his follow up single, “Dami Duro”, saw him ditch the underdog story to create a more accessible picture of his life and an honest-to-God club hit.

Singing “Ema Dami Duro, Emi Omo Baba Olowo” at the top of his lungs, Davido brandishes his privilege with a flourish, daring anyone to challenge his status. The music video itself opens with a premise of an outlandish lifestyle during a club night out, after Davido angrily stacks wads of naira notes on a waiter’s tray. Elsewhere, celebrity cameos, cars, money, an entourage, girls, parties and booze are on full display, like a rap music video.

It’s not impossible that the video for “Dami Duro” is responsible for the hip-hop aesthetic of Afropop videos and stack showing Instagram posts today. But what’s for certain is that the mixture of Yoruba and English lines with Davido’s distorted vocal that added an off-kilter slant soundtracked Davido as the ultimate Afropop alchemist of our generation. In that moment of embracing his reality to pursue his passion, he became a pop star everyone else had to aspire to become.

Davido’s “Dami Duro” is a perfect reflection of the times we currently live in when the son of a business mogul isn’t too content inheriting his father’s fortune to stop him chasing his own passion. Privilege is, after all, just another trick in the bag, it doesn’t have to be the only card.

Stream “Dami Duro” via Apple music below.

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