How have you been adjusting creatively and personally to life during the pandemic?
Davido: Man, it’s been crazy because my fiancée actually tested positive [for COVID-19 but has since recovered]. I was on tour in America, with six shows done and 19 sold-out shows left. We were in Denver sitting in my hotel room listening to the news. We looked at each other and said, “Yo, let’s just tell ourselves the truth: It’s about to be a wrap.” New York had put a cap on shows at 500 [people], then 200 the next day and down again the next. So we all came back home and did the test. My fiancée was in London with the baby. She’s the only one that came out positive. She had to isolate; I had to isolate. I did two tests after that, and they came out negative. I just got back home [to Lagos] a week ago. Since then I’ve been recording.
Savage: At first it was kind of difficult for me to get my head around. I had a tour planned, a bunch of festivals lined up. When it finally dawned on me that those weren’t going to happen this year, it made me wake up and realize how fragile life is and how we take it for granted. So I’ve been spending time with my son and speaking on the phone more with my family. More importantly, I’ve been giving out food to people around my neighborhood. I can quarantine for a month or couple of months, but some of these people don’t even have food for tomorrow.
Eazi: I’m 19 minutes out of London, living in a small community and finally getting back to jogging. But musically, it’s been an eye-opener for me. During this lockdown, I’ve not recorded any new music. But I’m on Zoom calls almost the whole day working on my business or [talking] with one of my new artists, listening to records and setting up release plans. I thought I would have been frustrated by not being able to go out of the farm. But I’ve always been an entrepreneur, so this has been a next-level step for me in terms of investing more of my time and resources toward my business.
What factors have been driving the industry’s investment in Africa in the past few years?
Savage: One of the main reasons is that social media and tech have made it a lot easier for people to access our music. When I lived in London [she moved there with her family at age 11], African music and culture weren’t cool. In fact, it wasn’t cool to be African. When music came out in Africa, it would sometimes take a year for people to get the mixtapes. So by the time we were hearing the music abroad, it was already old back there. With social media, we’re able to connect instantly with fans. That has made the music travel a lot faster and a lot wider. And it’s great music.
Davido: That’s the most important thing: The music is amazing. The feeling you get from Afrobeats and African music is just different. When I was in school in America and would play African music, people would say, “Yo, what’s that? That shit’s hard.” They didn’t understand what the artists were saying, but the feeling they got [from the music] was just crazy. People have always loved African music, but we didn’t have the avenues to go worldwide. Back then, you actually had to have an African friend or come to Africa to experience it.
Eazi: There’s also a general wind of appreciation now for what being African is about: “Hey, I’m African, it’s great to be African, and we’re flaunting it.” When Davido is singing, he’s talking about things that are very particular to his culture. It’s also the same when Tiwa sings. Back in the day, even in the villages you’d hear people singing Céline Dion. But now people are playing 99% Nigerian music because that’s what’s hip.