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The video for Davido’s “Unavailable,” an early highlight from his fourth album Timeless, begins with a radio message that announces the long-awaited return of the “King Of Afrobeat.” That figure is Davido himself, who went two and a half years without a project and minimal releases outside of that.
Though that isn’t all that long, the absence was noticed as his contemporaries – Burna Boy and Wizkid – elevated to new heights. Burna dropped an award-winning album while Wizkid released a magnum opus while newcomers in afrobeats arrived to define the new class of artists that would lead the way.
Five years ago, Davido was at the forefront of afrobeats’ mainstream takeover, firing off records like “If,” “Fall,” and “FIA” that were played so frequently that fans grew tired of them being the only afrobeats records to play in outdoor spaces. To start 2023, Davido was that same star but had yet to insert his defining project into the massive ring that afrobeats created for itself in this current decade.
That’s what makes Timeless the perfect title for Davido’s fourth album. Yes, it continues the theme of time that served as the foundation of the afrobeats singer’s last two albums, A Good Time and A Better Time, but by definition, it accurately describes Davido’s music in today’s afrobeats space – “not affected by the passage of time or changes in fashion.”
With Timeless, Davido proves himself to be a limitless artist with enough strength to always find a way to finish at the top. The same singer who arrived with the electric and raw “Dami Duro” can use that same joy and energy in a different way for another party-friendly record, like “Unavailable,” more than a decade later. Between the two records, the similarities and differences are clear, above all, they speak to the timeless nature of Davido and his artistry.
Timeless caters to those who were assured that its awaited arrival would be nothing short of monumental while also sneering at those who had doubts about its potential. Davido re-emerges from one of the lowest points in his life as a rejuvenated man with a new sense of appreciation, value, and vigor. Defeat is not a part of Davido’s ministry and it’s a message that couldn’t be any clearer on the album’s opener “Over Dem.”
He boasts about his ability to win no matter the circumstances, singing, “Over dem all / If dem wan turn Goliath / I be David for life / Oluwa dey my side.” Davido delivers these lines with such certainty and little doubt that not only are we convinced of his strength, but it’s also enough to make listeners believe in their own. Davido re-establishes this connection with a higher power just three songs later on “Godfather.”
“All of thе blessings wey dey come my way / They are all from God,” he sings with the certainty and confidence that only the God he sings of could supply. “And if dem try to talk / E go burn them like hot water oh.” To loosely translate: “All of the blessings that come my way / They are all from God / If they try to talk against them / It’ll burn them like hot water.”
As much as he flaunts his strengths, Davido also embraces the losses and the moments of uncertainty. A broken heart and questions for the woman who split it in two are the foundation of “E Pain Me.” Davido croons his pleas to this woman, begging for their return and showcasing the pains of a loss that he can’t seem to wrap his head around. “Wetin I no do for you? / Shey you promise say you no go let me go?” Davido asks. “And last night you told me that it’s all over / E pain me oh.”
The trend continues in the second half of the album with “For The Road,” a record that swaps sadness for disappointment while still finding itself in the realm of love. It’s upended by a well-played double meaning that comes alive with his request for one last night of intimacy “for the road” with a girl who has no desire to be confined by the limitations of a relationship – in other words, she’s “for the road” in Davido’s eyes.
Davido bravest moment in the face of loss comes through “LCND (Legends Can Never Die),” a song dedicated to the people he’s lost in his life, which presumably includes his three-year-old son David Ifeanyi Adeleke Jr. Davido proves that he found life through death, a concept that couldn’t be more representative of the theme behind Timeless.
Davido’s Timeless stretches its arms to touch on areas that pertain to the singer and the world he finds himself in. It boasts the confidence of a man who considers his music and impact to be timeless as well as the fight and focus to prove this case to those who doubted. It’s crafted with the precision that will have it be remembered as one of the best afrobeats albums to come out of the genre’s most spotlighted era while offering moments where Davido is forced to accept his time with an experience was paused, or worse, cut short, whether it be through love, friendship, parenthood, or his career.
The lesson here is to value the time with something or someone while you do have it. With that, Davido is able to produce the tunnel-visioned “Precision,” the besotted “No Competition” with Asake, and the infatuated “In The Garden.” With Timeless, Davido reduced the force that is time into a feather-like obstacle that a king like himself can effortlessly knock down.
Timeless is out now via Davido Music Worldwide/Sony Music. You can stream it here.