Although overshadowed by some bad tempered exchange between two other artists, Dakolo’s win confirmed what has been popular knowledge for a while: he is one Nigeria’s finest vocalists.
Since coming tops in the Idols West Africa singing contest in 2007 (ahead of singer Omawumi), Dakolo has held the attention of the Nigerian audience with his music, belonging to a small group of artists with no scandal, managing to have fame without the liability of celebrity. He is known almost entirely for his songs and live performances, with increasing acclaim. A father and husband, he has used his wife as 'video girl' for a few videos.
Speaking to Music In Africa at the Nigerian Entertainment Conference, Dakolo said an album, his second, will be released later in the year. His first, Beautiful Noise (2011), was very well received, powered by his singing ability. He has released a number of singles in the intervening years, working with his producer pal Cobhams Asuquo.
Ahead of the release of his sophomore album, here are five of Timi Dakolo’s very best songs:
5. 'The Vow'
Backstage at the Nigerian Entertainment Conference, Timi Dakolo told Music in Africa that ‘The Vow’ was performed at the wedding of producer Cobhams Asuquo. That was a couple of years ago. The song was released in 2016 to celebrate Dakolo's own fourth wedding anniversary. Hand claps and soulful vocals set up the song's atmosphere. Expectedly, 'The Vow' has received an unofficial induction into the Nigerian wedding song catalogue.
4. 'So Beautiful'
A single from the Beautiful Noise album, ‘So Beautiful’ is the most joyously playful love song in the Timi Dakolo oeuvre. A duet with Elvis Larri, the song employs a variation of a Nigerian folk song, asking for good luck. The two men are singing a tribute to a woman’s beauty in Yoruba and in English. The rest of us are dancing in any language.
3. 'Love of My Life'
There’s a soberness to the love professed by Timi Dakolo on ‘Love of My Life’. And yet, amidst the strings and traditional drum patterns, he sneaks in a playful line in Nigerian pidgin: “You make my heart to beat like thunder. Girl you dey make me wonder.” Dakolo's notion of love on the song may be serious but no one says it doesn't have its fun moments.
2. 'Wish Me Well'
On ‘Wish Me Well’, the narrator is a young man with big plans, plans that can only be contained by a big city. “I’ve got no money,” he says, “just hope and dreams.” The city is probably Lagos. But any city in the world would do. Heading to a big city is the mark of progress for many young men. Fame, flight and a girl are the things promised him in the big city. Does he get these things? We never know. Backed by a choir, and a steady percussive rhythm, Mr Dakolo seems to be saying that sometimes having a dream is enough.
1. 'There’s A Cry'
Dakolo hails from the Niger Delta, the oil-rich, troubled area in Nigeria. On ‘There’s A Cry’, he discusses the issues plaguing his homeland, presenting its problems to listeners. A piece of conscious music, this song is a break from the romantic tunes that made Timi Dakolo’s name. The Niger Delta displaces the women to whom those other songs are made to. The change of theme does nothing to the emotions carrying his music. If anything, the song is more charged with emotion.