In 2012, the Nigerian Afrobeats music sensation Davido released his debut album, Omo Baba Olowo (The Genesis) — ‘son of a rich man.’ Even though it was not a darling of the critics, the record marked the start of a career that has since followed a decisively upward trajectory. It’s been a successful decade for Davido, who has since become a world-famous star who collaborates with American artists such as Chris Brown and whose career path became symbolic of the success of the whole genre.
Sony Entertainment West Africa’s Oluwaseun Lloyd, known as Banko in the entertainment circles, has been there for all of it. He’s been more than just a passenger for the ride, too – he’s even been the president of a record label he co-owned with Davido for nearly six years. Their story shaped the course of West Africa’s hottest cultural export, and it started before Davido took up the microphone.
“I was figuring out what to do after graduation and got interested in talent management. My older brother was an artist then, and I started looking for producers for him,” Oluwaseun Lloyd recalls. “A friend connected me to an artist friend of his, and I liked the sound of the music that he was making. He connected me to his little cousin, who happened to be young Davido.”
The still-teenage Davido was a producer at the time, creating beats for different artists. Not long after he sent some to Oluwaseun Lloyd, he reached out again to let him know that he’d decided to become an artist in his own right. The two met up in London, where they produced Davido’s first single. From there, Davido returned to Nigeria to kick off his career, and Oluwaseun Lloyd returned to Canada, where he was studying, to finish his graduation.
The next time the two met, Davido’s career in Nigeria started, and he needed a road manager. Oluwaseun Lloyd signed up for the job. “We put out his debut album in 2012, and then the ride started,” he recalls. “I was Davido’s road manager from 2012 till about 2016.”
In 2016, amid talks of Davido signing for a major record label, the two decided to start an independent record label in Nigeria. That’s how Davido Music Worldwide was born. The success of DMW attracted attention to Oluwaseun Lloyd’s talents. Soon, he started getting job offers from the likes of Sony Music. After initially refusing, he eventually decided to take up the offer and become the general manager of Sony Music West Africa in 2019.
Oluwaseun Lloyd still consults with Davido’s management, but his new position also allows him to work with other talent from Nigeria who are signed to Sony. He’s worked with Wizkid, Tems, and Oxlade and has become instrumental in ensuring the local musical ecosystem gets the international attention it deserves. And it’s easier — thanks to the work he and Davido did.
“It was from the ground up, from discovery to the break, and then going global. We celebrated the 10th anniversary two years ago,” Oluwaseun Lloyd says. “With the growth of the music, there’s change coming. There’s a long list of new artists that have come out, thanks to the doors we were able to open, especially with Davido going global.”