Saturday, November 16th, 2013

Davido – Skelewu

Possibly the first Atlantan-Nigerian to appear on the Jukebox…


Brad Shoup: Recently, the Nigerian pop singer Waconzy was the guest on a ChannelsTV program delightfully titled “Rubbin’ Minds.” “Do you think we’re doing the right thing?” asked the host. “A lot of fans — including I sometimes — wonder why a lot of these songs sound a little too alike.” He went on to ask how Waconzy distinguishes himself from his peers. Sufficiently baited, Waconzy responded that as a business owner, he had an obligation to record enough product that he could issue singles while he tended to other facets of his company. He then pivoted to the positivity in his songs, referring to “little children” who don’t care about meaning, “they just want to make noise.” Prodded for specifics, he went on. “Like this ‘Skelewu’ song — God knows that I don’t know any part of the verse.” He paused and turned to the camera. “But I like the song.” His confusion is understandable — apparently, “skelewu” has no real definition. So yeah, it won’t carry the same meaning as “I was born with a silver spooooon/But then I lost the spooooon,” but paired with the cistern-dropped percussion and pushbroom synths, you can’t mistake its function. The sound spectrum is crowded, no doubt; I feel like I’m listening in the round. I’ve carried the stepwise 8-note hook with me all day, as well as that mournful quality minor-key Nigerian pop, with its loyalty to Auto-Tune, tends to impart. I’m going to need that more often than a good wedding song.

Anthony Easton: Forgive me a grad school movement, but this layering of sign and signifiers, this beautiful hash of Lagos to Atlanta, from Atlanta to the UK, a techno reverse of the genocidal obscenities of the Atlantic triangle, the figuring out what Blackness means — after but including Fela in Detroit and Nina in Liberia — the angles and layers and negotiations are a perfect example of how tenuous networks of social capital are being built up, slowly, each threatening but not quite collapsing. 

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Dark-tinged, something something. A clattering somewhere in the depths of the track, hidden away somewhere behind wobbles and blackbox vocal filtering and forward motion signifying nothing at all, really.

Alfred Soto: The hook reminded me of this noche buena staple, modernized glitz and all, will to dance and all.

Scott Mildenhall: The obvious word for this is hypnotic, and that’s a curse as much it is a blessing — it’s all well and good being in a trance, but eventually you come out of it, and all you’re left with is someone slowly swinging a watch in front of your face — but for the few minutes it’s playing, it’s captivating, not dissimilar to a downbeat “Animals.” A video filmed on the same fake British street used by Fuse ODG (and Dizzee, and The Artist James Arthur, and Cheryl Cole) could also suggest a push down the same road; it might have needed a bit more levity for that, but overall it happening would be a good thing.

Mallory O’Donnell: Sensual, cluttered, methodical, claustrophobic. Impossible to remain immobile to. Party music for an industrial graveyard. Please send more.

Reader average: [7.5] (2 votes)

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7 Responses to “Davido – Skelewu”

  1. OMG Scott that is such a good spot re: the fake street! Is that an Elstree lot, dya think?

  2. Wikipedia says Cheryl’s video was filmed at Wimbledon Studios, former home of The Bill and more recently the setting for various other videos, programmes and films. And also that game show where Ben Shepherd watches people play on a giant 2p slot machine. I guess that street is basically the British Wisteria Lane, kind of.

    I felt a bit lame bringing Fuse ODG into it but mostly I just wanted to get this on some kind of record.

  3. Finally, a chance to again declare my love for “Under the Sun”.

  4. I hang my head in shame for missing this. Anthony, please do bring more of the grad school when you get a chance.

  5. Thanks for reviewing this, everyone! Skelewu follows in the proud tradition of late 00s Naija pop in inventing catchy words and dances to appeal to the club-goers. To me, it looks very much like a Nigerian attempt at Azonto-style viral success – the song exists specifically to spread its accompanying dance move.

    Because Skelewu is meant to highlight a dance move, the music video was an important component of song promotion. There was actually some drama that happened when a music video – not, apparently, the “official” one – was released by its director, Sesan (in Nigeria, MV directors are as well-known as music producers). Davido tweeted that this was “leaked” and unofficial, while Sesan claimed it was official. A new video – directed by Moe Musa – was released later. Speculation is that Davido was dissatisfied with Sesan’s version. (More on the drama here:

    So glad to see Davido and Nigerian music doing well on TSJ – thank you again for reviewing! And there’s more where this came from :)

  6. Thanks, Kay. I’m hoping we can cover a Waconzy single one day…

  7. This baba lowo guy sef..