By Aphiwe Faku
Nigerian multi-platform musician, DJ Cuppy, recently released “Jollof on a jet” the lead single off her debut album ‘Original Copy.’ The full album – her debut – will be out in late August. There is far more to this talented musician than her neo-afrobeat sound however, read on to learn more:
She’s been DJing since she was a teenager
She moved to London at 13 for schooling and took with her an iPod filled with Nigerian music so she could always keep a part of home. During school holidays in Lagos, the then-16-year-old found herself at a club when the resident DJ was stuck in the kind of traffic the city is notorious for. The panicked club owner asked who could play while they waited for the DJ and Cuppy volunteered. The rest is written in the annals of music.
She has a masters degree
DJ Cuppy graduated with a degree in business and economics from King’s College London in 2014. By then she was already well established as a DJ and was selected as a DJ at the MTV Africa Music Awards.
That was followed by her first compilation, The House of Cuppy, where she produced EDM-esque remixes of songs by leading afropop artists. Soon came The House of Cuppy II, which took on a more afro-house slant. Endearing her pan-African brand to the continent beyond Nigeria, Cuppy went on the Cuppy Takes Africa Tour a year later. The tour was filmed and a documentary series of the same name aired on Fox Africa.
She didn’t stop there however, and kept hitting the books with as much enthusiasm as the decks earning a Music Business Masters Degree from New York University while interning at Jay-Z’s Roc Nation imprint in 2015.
She was formerly known as Cupcake
The unconventional title of the DJ Cuppy’s debut album – Original Copy – stems from Cuppy (who was once known as Cupcake) having created a ‘sweet reputation.’ Intent on showing more than one side to her persona and inspired by the artists like Andy Warhol who created Pop Art in a time when it was looked at as less than art, Cuppy set out to show that she revels in being an oxymoron. “It (Original Copy) is altogether a different approach, the album is heavily influenced by me just saying: ‘I’m going to just stick to being myself, unapologetically’,” she says.
“You were born an original, don’t die a copy,” she says. According to DJ Cuppy, she wanted to create her own brand that stood apart from Florence, her birth name. “The idea is that my brand is a contradiction – there is no original copy of anything… But I am an original copy of myself.”
Original Copy is her debut album
While DJ Cuppy has produced and released other compilations (including The ‘House of Cuppy’ and ‘The House of Cuppy II’), she views ‘Original Copy’ as her debut musical album.
I honestly haven’t had the courage to put out any music since my last single ‘Gelato’ in 2019. Prior to that Cuppy released four other singles, with her debut being ‘Green Light’ (featuring Tekno in 2017). “I’ve experimented, this album is literally going back to the basics. So it has been a long time coming,” she said.
The album sees Cuppy take the vocal reigns on themes that range from independence to love lost and African pride, over a pop-meets-afrobeats sonic bed that she calls: “neo-afrobeats”. In that vein, ‘Jollof on the Jet’ symbolises the duality between being a jet-setting international artist and her African roots.
She recently signed with platoon
Original Copy will be released under her independent record label ‘Red Velvet Music Group Limited’ via Platoon in 2020. The 27-year-old announced the new deal on her social media channels in early July. “A new chapter with sweet music. Cuppy is now a @WeArePlatoon artist!” she wrote on Instagram. Platoon, which was acquired by Apple in 2018, works with artists to produce, distribute and sell their work. The deal came only a few months after DJ Cuppy started hosting ‘Africa Now’ Apple Music’s first radio show dedicated solely to African music.
She is passionate about making a difference
DJ Cuppy has the welfare of young people close to her heart. She is the Global Citizen Education Ambassador through which she works to fight for the millions of girls around the world that are currently not in school. She also started The Cuppy Foundation in 2018. The Foundation’s Cuppy Gold Gala raised $17 million to help displaced children across Nigeria.
Original Copy will be released under her independent record label ‘Red Velvet Music Group Limited’ via Platoon in 2020. The 27-year-old announced the new deal on her social media channels in early July.