DJ Cuppy is happy being an original
DJ Cuppy is doing her hair when I call her via Zoom.
So she can't switch her camera on. "You don't want to see what I look like right now," she says. "I kid you not. I'm doing my hair right now. I look crazy."
She then switches on her camera for a few seconds and indeed, she is in the throes of getting her hair done. We both laugh.
Cuppy is in London when I call her, after taking a break in the South of France. It's a few days before the release of her debut album “Original Copy” and judging by her social media interactions, is really excited about it and is also a bit nervous too.
The lead single, “Jollof On The Jet”, is doing well and charting across the continent and the UK. The music video recently hit the 1 million views mark after two weeks, a sign of it being well liked by her fans.
There was even a #JollofontheJetchallenge on social media, where people shared videos of themselves dancing and creating unique choreography for the song and pictures of themselves eating jollof in the most unlikely places.
The pandemic has affected her plans for her music and has forced her to cancel her planned tours of Asia and the Middle East.
I spoke to her about the song, rice dishes, Black Lives Matter and how being from a prominent family has impacted her career.
I am vicariously living through all the Africans in Europe right now and all you guys having a glorious time. How has this time been for you?
(Laughs) Aw. You know how much I want to come to Durban right now?
I love South Africa and I want to shoot my music videos in Cape Town, but no one can come in.
I was passing my time in Monaco while I was waiting to return to the Motherland. But I can't complain- it was time well spent.
I was finishing some of the promotion and plans for the album. Plus I just needed a change of scenery.
I was in London for like four months and I needed a bit of sunshine. I'm now back in London and ready for the world to hear my art.
I saw your posts being at the London marches for Black Lives Matter. Why was it important for you to be there?
Honestly? Initially I wasn't going to go there. I wasn't going to protest. But I just sat down and thought it.
I live in Central London and I thought how I couldn't live with myself sitting here and allowing other people to work for a cause that I am part of.
I am who I am because other people have paved the way and I can't not be a part of that history. To whom much is given, much is expected.
I do believe and stand behind the cause. Who am I not to support such a worthy cause?
How far along were you with the album before the pandemic shut everything down?
I was pretty far in. The album has twelve records and I had done eight and I was waiting for a couple of verses.
I was in Cape Town when the pandemic happened and I'm really upset that I couldn't get Samthing Soweto to feature on the album because I really wanted to work with him.
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I honestly thought of SO many reasons to NOT protest, but the truth is I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t go and support! ✊🏿✊🏾✊🏽 Isaiah 1:17 ....Straight after my radio show today, I joined my brothers and sisters who are protesting against racial injustice faced by black people globally. I’m also taking this moment to stand against gender-based violence and sexual assault taking place in Nigeria. Together we MUST do better 🌍 Cc: @CuppyFoundation #BlackLivesMatter #SayNoToRape
How much of an impact did it have on you, creatively?
Um, it was good and bad. It allowed me to soak my music in. And it's actually weird how productive I have been.
It gave me a lot of time to understand what I was trying to achieve, be by myself, not as Cuppy, but as an individual creative.
Also, something pretty cool happened. In the middle of the pandemic I landed my dream job with Apple Music.
I just got a phone call telling me that I got it. I had done the demo a year ago and there was so much confidentiality and I soon forgot about it.
And then I got a call saying: "Oh yeah, Cuppy, you are starting next week." I love it and really enjoy it. Every week I cannot beleive I get to represent the continent. It feels good. "
Jollof on the Jet is fun. It's good vibes, has a catchy hook. What's the story with the jollof?
(Laughs). The story is as it happened. I was flying from Accra to Lagos and I was eating jollof rice next to my producer.
I turned to him and said: 'Oh, jollof on the jet' and he looked at me, thinking that I am crazy. He plays a beat and I tell him that I want to do a song called Jollof on the Jet.
So all my music, like my old song Gelato which happened after I was eating ice-cream with my dad (Femi Otedola, billionaire and philantropist), are natural occurences. That' s how it came about.
I thought Rema would be great on the song. Him and I have wanted to work together for a long time.
I think he's the hottest artist in the continent right now. He's killing it.
However, while I was lucky enough to have him on tha track, I felt like something was missing, so I added Rayvanny for some flavour.
Of all the rice based dishes- which one is your favourite- besides Jollof?
Ooh Iove paella. I love biryani so much. I also like what I had in Senegal. You eat it with your hands? (Thieboudienne). Oh I love it.
But then, these dishes are all before I went vegan, so. I love a bit of fried rice and also garlic rice. Sushi rice is also great. Hey, I love rice!
Now that you are a recording artist instead of just a DJ, has how you approach music changed?
Oh yeah, 100%. Being a DJ is something I have always been proud of. In SA you have always viewed DJs as artists, and that has been done very well by the South African DJs.
I can only hope that Nigeria will start viewing DJs as the same thing- recording artists. We mix music and create new sounds as well.
I think being both things has made me better.
Has it been difficult getting the industry to pay attention and respect you as an artist, instead of being the daughter of a prominent family?
It hasn't been difficult in the sense that I am individualistic.
I kinda do what I want to do. But I am just proud of what I have been able to achieve.
At the same time I do want to deny or hide that I am very fortunate and that I am in a prominent position. But I also have big shoes to fill.
DJ Cuppy's “Original Copy” is available on all music streaming sites.