She is a name and face that needs no introduction. Born Florence Ifeoluwa Otedola, she is widely known and affectionately called DJ Cuppy. The young and eclectic DJ making major waves across the continent and the world over. With her recent stint as a red carpet host for the just ended BET Awards, her stardom is just about to shine!
We spent time with her over at the Glitz Africa hq and created this digital cover! Have a nice read 😉
- It was so much fun putting together the concept and shooting the cover. How was the experience for you?
Loved doing this cover with Glitz! I feel like we really pushed the envelope and thought outside the box with the concept. My brand is so multi-dimensional, so this collab was all about showing a new side of Cuppy. Also, Accra is a city so dear to my heart, so shooting at a studio in the middle of the city really positively inspired me (and so did the tilapia for lunch!) …I live life to the fullest and believe to treasure each day, so I wanted the shoot to capture my positive attitude. I really do believe that tomorrow is never guaranteed so we must cease every opportunity… YOLO! However, I didn’t want too much emphasis on my clothes, but more on my expression. A smile is really the most important thing we wear.
- Let me guess, was Cuppy your nickname? Tell us how the name came about?
Yes, people asks how I ended up being ‘Cuppy’… Well, the short version is all about my obsession with Cupcakes. Growing up I used to have such a sweet tooth! My cheeks got a bit round too, so people used to call me Cupcake. When I was then choosing a DJ name at age 16, this seemed like the obvious choice. Cuppy was always Cupcake for short, and people started getting lazy…Ha! Just to emphasis my love for treats, my company is named Red Velvet Music Group LTD after my favorite Cupcake flavor!
- Have you always wanted to be a DJ? Tell us about how it all started.
My childhood really shaped the love and passion I have for music now… Growing up in Lagos was such a wonderful experience; Lagos was and still is one of the most exciting cities in the world full of color, energy, and moment! I grew up listening to Fela Kuti in the car with my dad and I still do, my favorite song in particular is ‘Yellow Fever’. Having been a music head for most of my childhood, I decided I wanted to become a DJ when I was a teenager. My parents moved me to boarding school in the UK overnight and music was the only this that got me through being homesick and alone. Music is truly my healer. As I DJ, I believe in the power of music and how it can save souls…
- As a little girl, what was the musical influence that made you think you wanted a career in music?
Ooooo, that’s a hard one! That’s like asking a child to choose their favorite parent. Honestly speaking, I would have to say every experience and sound I heard. I listened to an array of artists when I was younger; from local to international. I was like a sponge, always absorbing things around me. Even now, as I’m growing into a woman and developing as an individual so are my influences and tastes so I’m still discovering new things.
- How is a day in the life of Cuppy like?
Well, waking up to Lagos heat is different for starters! In Lagos my days are slightly longer (thanks to traffic), plus also I naturally have more operations in Lagos than anywhere else. There’s Cuppy the DJ, the Artist, the Producer, the Entrepreneur, the Philanthropist, and the Citizen! I’m always busy so lot’s of meetings, studio sessions, and selfies! As I’m getting older I’m trying to maximize the use of my time so when I’m home and in bed I can switch off; as we say in Nigeria- body no be firewood.
- What was the experience like getting a Master’s Degree in NYU?
Having gotten an undergraduate in Economics, I always wanted to learn about music. Moving to New York was both exciting and nerve-wracking. As a student, I really did feel like I was living a double life. Student by day, DJ by night! Juggling was often difficult, sometimes I would have to do essays backstage at shows… Somehow (with very little sleep) I pushed through! I would never trade my degrees for anything.
- You’ve described your style of music as “Neo-Afrobeats”. Tell us more about that.
Living inside and outside Nigeria has definitely exposed me to an array of cultural influences, which is evident in my music. I call my genre ‘Neo-Afrobeats’. This is best described as a fusion between West African Afro-beats and modern sounds.
- Tell us about being the official Ambassador for Pepsi and Maybelline.
It’s so exciting to have the opportunity to represent international organizations on a global scale!I’ve been lucky enough to rub shoulders with some of the smartest people in the world during these campaigns and I always notice something in common- passion. Spending time with these brands always makes me fall in love with music again. Despite their commercial success they never deter their focus and drive to create products that better our lives. This is what true artistry is all about.
- You were the resident DJ at the MTV Africa Music Video Awards at a very young age. How did that feel?
Djing for the MTV Awards at 18 years old was fantastic and I loved every minute in South Africa! Travelling is great for discovering new cultures and trying new things. My team were approached by the MTV and it was an opportunity not to miss I had to study backstage but it was so worth it… I will never forget that moment! And yes, I still aced my exams. **WINK**
- How was your internship Jay Z’s Roc Nation?
I was fortunate enough to get an internship for 2 years ago Roc Nation in New York and helped them shape their African strategy. This was such an amazing experience as it allowed me a new perspective; not just being an artist but also being behind the scenes. I’m proud to be able to create music but also monetize it as a businesswoman. Jay Z is a inspiration to us all.
- Who would you like to collaborate with next and why?
I would love to collaborate with any African female artists; I love them all. We all share very similar frustrations. A female DJ is really not the norm, and sometimes, people don’t like what they don’t know. But you know what? Whatever us girls do, we must do twice as well as boys to be thought half as good. Women are beginning to break into the industry and this is really encouraging- we now need to vocalise it through music!
- What do you think about the current state of the African music industry?
Gosh, what a time to be alive! There has been a revolution. It’s phenomenal how Afrobeats is taking over the world. Afrobeats is going from strength to strength it’s so beautiful to watch and even better to be part of it! I remember when clubs used to say no Afrobeats allowed! Times have CHANGED. This year, I can only see more fusion records and collaborations. Afrobeat artists are taking things to the next level. One of my favourite projects to work on is my resident party, Cactus on the Roof which is tropical Afrobeats party in the UK. I’ll tell you Glitz Mag, it’s a SHUT DOWN cause everyone wants to party with Africans! We literally have a spotlight on us right now and all our stars are shining bright, it’s been a long time coming and I don’t think it’s going anywhere.
- What is the one thing people don’t know about you?
A lot of people don’t realize that I actually get disappointed often. They think I always get what I want. Due to my bubbly personality and positive spirit; people forget I am a human and I get hurt! Sometimes my industry can be very dark. On my low days, I love seeing other young people who are doing something totally different than what I’m doing. It inspires me to want to learn more and keep pushing. We’re all aspirational beings trying to fulfill our dreams in our different fields…
- Can you tell us a bit more about your philanthropy?
The Cuppy Foundation is an organisation that is created out of pure passion. I have always felt that I’ve been able to live my dreams because someone gave me a chase, with that said I also feel the need to provide chances for others. My experience with education has allowed me to become a young confident woman ready to conquer the world! I believe that knowledge is power and the Cuppy Foundation is there to provide those most vulnerable in African societies with access to education so that they too can live their dreams.
- Have you had any challenges while disk jockeying? How did you handle it?
Learning to be myself has been a BIG challenge. Being a female in a male-dominated industry I’ve had to adapt to environments which have often made question my own passion and authenticity for my art. It’s really interesting because things started working out when I finally decided to simply be myself and accept myself for who I truly am. Do you, and the rest will follow!
- What’s the fanciest item you own?
My headphones, I’m known for my Beats diamonte headphones; I have them in over 12 colours!
- A movie about your life would be titled?
Cuppy on a Mission. Self Explanatory.
- Advice to female African entrepreneurs?
Women in creative fields, we must be warriors! A female DJ is really not the norm, and sometimes, people don’t like what they don’t know. But you know what? Whatever us gal dem do, we must do twice as well as boys to be thought half as good. Barriers are higher compared to male artists and DJ’s, but we can overcome them. My advise to any woman venturing into the entertainment industry or any career is to work hard and believe in themselves! It’s important to always see the positives in being a woman and use this to our advantage.
- You came up as a DJ and now you are pursuing a career in music as an artist? What inspired you to make this change?
I would say that I still consider myself primarily a DJ, I’ve just added an extra layer of my creativity. Honestly, I got tired of just playing records and decided that I wanted to make that transition into making my own. I felt like it was the next step to take. I remember hearing Calvin Harris singing on his own record “Summer” and thinking- if he can do it, I can! There is nothing wrong with a DJ inging their own record. We’re the new superstars!
- What’s next?
Well the future is bright for Cuppy… I’ve just begun my journey, and I am ready to take the world! I believe that time waits for no one; chase your dreams no matter what! I’m still on an experimental path, but whatever I settle for, I hope to have made a difference, inspired others and changed the rules! This year, I would love to work on an EP. I would love to come out with my own strong debut body of work with amazing records and great collaborations. I feel like I really, really want to show the world what I am made of!
STYLE STEAL WITH DJ Cuppy
- What are your travel must-haves?
My passport holder by smythson, coconut oil by R&R, and pillow spray by thisworks!
- Which would you rather, a tote, a backpack or a clutch?
A backpack, so I can have my DJ stuff on the go!
- Alfresco party tomorrow. Athleisure fashions or frilly, flowery and fun sundresses?
I would go for a flowery sundress; PINK!
- Top three make up must-haves in your bag!
Baby lips lip balm by Maybelline to put on before any lipstick!
Master chrome molten glow by Maybelline for shine and glam!
Volume Colossal Mascara by Maybelline to give me cute batty eyelashes without any
- Fave lip colour to rock any day!
Maybelline Super Stay Matte Romantic
- One thing you wish to add to your wardrobe right now?
A pink bucket hat!
- What style trend would you like to try?
Socks with sandals… Oooo, risky!
- You have to pick just one product for your night time beauty regimen, what would it be?
Khiels Midnight Recovery Concentrate to replenish my skin as I sleep.
- A cute phone case or just plain and functional?
A cute phone case; come on! Currently have an Ankara one which I love!
- Style Inspo
My sister JTO! She just gets it! For me… My style is very, very, I would say experimental chic. You know, it’s a bit girly, it is a bit street and I feel like it really depends on how I am feeling where am at.
Photography – Frozzen Seconds
Garments – Bello Edu
Accessories – Velma Accessories
Make Up – Maybelline
Hair – Nina Mischka