Press photos provided by artist/Red Velvet Music Group
As the saying goes….”beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. In this harsh, cruel rap game, beauty can take you but so far in your career. There has to be an main attribute to bring to the table. But if you have looks, gift and most importantly, the drive to be great, then you bound to become a perfect matchmaker with destiny. Just ask Nigeria’s superstar in the making, DJ Cuppy. Known as Florence Ifeoluwa Otedola, this 25-year-old music talent is creating a wave that has caught the eye of many of your favorites such as Drake, Jay-Z, Elton John and Mark Zuckerberg. The scary thing about it is…she is just warming up.
This beauty is an face that fans can recognize as she was the resident DJ on Charlamagne tha God‘s MTV2 hit series,”Uncommon Sense“. But when she’s not keeping her fans in awe with her flawless beauty and down-to-earth personality, she’s paving the way to becoming one of the leaders in bringing the African music culture to the forefront of pop culture. The CEO of Red Velvet Music Group, Cuppy is one of the top 20 highest paid female DJ’s in Europe. Although there have been naysayers and rumors discrediting her talents and abilities due to coming from an established family background, Cuppy has been continuing to land major counter punches through her work by touring and selling out in stadiums and venues worldwide. Her infusion of Hip Hop, EDM and Afrobeats helped introduced the world to the sound of “Neo-Afrobeats“. This outstanding wave that is going on today have artists coming out of woodworks yearning for her expertise in collaborating on a hit track. Prime example is her recent hit called “Greenlight” which featured OVO’s own Tekno. The song has been putting up astonishing numbers, gaining over 500 million views on YouTube and over 30 million streams across all over the major streaming services.
With an major buzz rapidly spreading like wildfire, RESPECT Magazine was able to catch up with the NYU graduate. She was able to discuss with us her recent success, being a young female DJ talent coming out of Africa and how it feels overcoming the odds stacked against her.
RESPECT: You one of the leading DJs when it comes to bringing Africa sound to the forefront of today’s music into the United States. What is your formula or process you used to help make sure these fans can appreciate the talent that’s coming out of Africa?
Cuppy: I think that’s a great question. It’s very interesting because I always felt that our music would be touching lives and create an amazing wave that would be as big as what it is now. It was always so difficult because I always felt that I was a little ahead of the time. Now because it’s so much interest in Africa, since it is happening all across the board, it makes my job so much easier. I feel that what else is helping me through getting Africa’s sound and influence out to music fan is the diaspora and how intune of African music being played all throughout the United States. The fans who are in the US that knows of the popular music being played back home is helping my job become a lot easy. They often reminds me and everyone else what’s going on out there to the point where it can be included in sets at major festivals like Coachella. It’s great that it reaches big stages like those festivals after it was gotten a nice warm welcome to other major festivals already like Afropunk. Even artists like French Montana are utilizing the origins of African music to their music which makes me so proud and happy that they are also pushing the culture to fans in the US. You see a lot of cross reference between Africa and the US music scene but everyone still knows that in order to make it big, the US has the #1 market to have your song be successful. So I say that to say, maybe one day Cuppy would be the person to have major artists coming to Africa to break new songs and do some major hits. (*chuckles)
RESPECT: You been creating your own wave in this industry to the point where you are often being called the “female DJ Khaled”. When you hear things like this, does that create a lot of pressure for yourself in regards towards not disappointing your fans and the critics?
Cuppy: I feel that it does brings pressure but it’s a healthy pressure. Recently in October, I decided to take that leap in just not only play records but start to create my own records. I had to start thinking like a artist in making sure I pick the right production to use for songs in which the fans can truly enjoy and become intimate with. You know, I go do shows and when I perform, the crowd takes in the content well but as a creator and mainly an DJ who suppose to be known to have a good ear to music, I tend to become nervous about my own music. It’s a different way of thinking but I have been lucky enough to have success with the music I create. I’ve been lucky enough to have a hit single like “Greenlight”, which is doing very well. I think people were shock of how the track was being created since normally you may hear a lot of shouting on today’s music. You know Africa music is all about element. Even with mine music, I love to create a vibe or a element for fans to know that helps lead up to my set. It’s just a exciting time to be one of those DJ’s or a female DJ to be introducing Africa music and to be compared to DJ Khaled is really inspiring since he promotes positivity on all of his tracks.
RESPECT: What are some of the things you look for when it comes to organizing your sets?
Cuppy: I try to be as organized as possible. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail, so I like to be organized. So I normally work on my sets the night before I debut them. I normally structure them as if I’m taking fans on a journey. Let me tell you, DJ’ing is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. You have to get the feel of the crowd and must be very fluent and that’s something I learned to experience. So as all DJ know, there are always gonna be timeless records that will always work. But I love to go out there before it’s my turn to do my set to be apart of the crowd, get a feel of the crowd and to know the flow of how I can be intune with them. It’s always good to know what the DJ before you was playing. As I got started DJ’ing in my early days, I couldn’t deny it, I had some pretty horrible sets. Sometimes you try to hard to fit in and do your own mix of a popular record like a Beyonce track with Afro-beats and it doesn’t turn out well. But I always tend to use both sides of the spectrum in the industry. My best sets are mainly more relaxed, organic and very relatable to what the crowd is feeling.
RESPECT: Coming from a area where the structure is very strict as far as families enforcing the message in going to school to become lawyers, doctors and engineers. You packed your bags and traveled to the USA to study Music at a prestigious school such as NYU. What are some advices you can give to young talented female musicians who are interested in following the same pathways you paved for them?
Cuppy: Yeah, a lot of my life is about breaking down doors and not doing what people tell me what I need or what I should do. Even coming from Nigeria, it’s not the norm for a young, educated female to become a DJ. So, I always been against the grain. What you see is what you get and what you get is the energy I have which is passion. My advice to all of the young people is to live a passionate, driven life. It’s times where I wake up and look back in my life and noticed that it’s not all about the money, power and the fame, you enjoy doing what you doing like myself because of the passion you have for it. A lot of young people tend to judge based off the Instagram and Twitter feeds thinking that I just have fun all the time. I do but majority of it is through hard work I put in behind the scenes and during times when no one aren’t noticing it. I really really want to emphasize that you should do what you want to do. Nobody can ever do what you can do better than you so you got to make sure you doing it for yourself. My thing is find a job you love and you don’t ever feel that you working a 9-5. In addition, make sure you get what needs to get done. Not a lot of DJ’s got a master’s degree in Music and I was able to take that time to soak in all the knowledge needed and use time off when I’m not traveling or working on new music wisely. It makes me better at what I do and granted, I don’t get to use my Music degree often but it gives me the confidence to know that I am capable of doing anything that I put my mind and passion towards. I want to make sure that the Cuppy brand is a brand that open doors to young people and that they can recognize that they can do any and everything they have passion for.