By GLAMOUR Staff Writer and Liam Karabo Joyce
Cuppy, who was born Florence Ifeoluwa Otedola in 1992, grew up in Lagos. Moving to London at 13, while attending boarding school, Cuppy’s parents gifted the precocious teenager an iPod. She filled it with Nigerian music so she could always keep a part of home. Cuppy learnt how to DJ purely from observation. She has been chasing her calling ever since. She does this on the decks as a DJ, in boardrooms as a music businesswoman and even behind the mic as a producer and vocalist.
In 2014, Cuppy graduated with a degree in business and economics from King’s College London. She had already started DJing as a teenager and built a reputation as one of the foremost DJs in Africa when, also in 2014, Cuppy 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 Life. Cuppy balanced the club and curricula effortlessly and earned a Music Business Masters Degree from New York University while interning at Jay-Z’s Roc Nation imprint in 2015.
That year, she appeared as the resident DJ on MTV2’s Uncommon Sense with Charlamagne tha God. She co-produced songs like ‘Green Light’ with artist and producer Tekno . In 2018, she collaborated with Kwesi Arthur on ‘Abena’ and the sweet single, ‘Gelato’, featuring Zlatan Ibile was released in 2019. Her excellence transcends music. Cuppy is a Global Citizen and Save the Children ambassador and the welfare of young people is close to her heart.
She started The Cuppy Foundation in 2018 and the Foundation’s Cuppy Gold Gala raised $17 million to help displaced children across Nigeria. In 2020, Cuppy was inducted into the Forbes Magazine’s 30 under 30 class. A philanthropist and a stylista, this pink-haired muso believes it’s important for young people to go on the wild side and step out of the cages of their comfort
Cuppy also launched a show on Apple Music, "Africa Now Radio" recently and is launching her latest album Original Copy later this month. The album already has two chart-topping hits Jollof on the jet and Karma. The two singles sound so good we can’t wait for the album.
We caught up with the star in London
First off, how are you doing and how have you been surviving lockdown in London?
I’ve been in London through the lockdown with my family and honestly speaking, it’s been a very challenging time.
We have never experienced a pandemic of this magnitude that required a total lockdown. I mean nobody, no matter who you are can say that you saw this coming. It’s not been easy adjusting to the present reality especially because I am an extrovert. I really do thrive on social interactions as a creative.
My job as a DJ has me travelling a lot and interacting physically exchanging energies.
So having to stay home for such a long period of time has been really hard and it took a lot of getting used to.
I’ve had to find ways to stay productive despite the numerous restrictions; I’ve had multiple Instagram live DJ sessions and been a part of various initiatives to help ease the negative effects of the pandemic on the vulnerable members of the society.
I’ve also been able to complete my debut album and finally looking forward to sharing the masterpiece I have created with the world. The highlight of the lockdown for me, of course, has been the launch of my brand new radio show on Apple Music, "Africa Now Radio with Cuppy".
How did your involvement come about Africa Now Radio?
Everyone knows that the African culture has always been deeply integrated in my Cuppy brand.
Born in Lagos, but having lived around the world, I’ve been an advocate of sharing our continent’s creativity with the world.
Africa Now Radio was a vision Apple has always had, and we did the demo about a year ago and the team spent a lot of time developing and shaping the show FOR the continent BY the continent. Then I got THE call this summer, and here I am!
What made you want to be a part of this?
The fact that it is a show dedicated to promoting and celebrating African talent makes it a key force to me. I’ve always been vocal about my love for my African roots. I am so proud to be African.
I’m always happy to be part of a course that showcases the beauty my continent houses in an authentic way. In April, 2014, I was appointed Nigeria’s Tourism Ambassador and now I consider myself an Ambassador to champion African music on a global scale.
I feel like the African sound which is so unique and pure is still under rated. I’m glad that afrobeats has begun to make global waves but there is still so much more to be done.
This is my dream job and I’m so proud to be the first ever African host of a radio show on Apple music. This show is made for Africans by Africans!
How significant is a show like this?
Africa is at a point where showcasing its cultural riches to a global audience is key. The aim of the show is to tell the African story, for us and by us.
I am even more grateful that it is airing at a time like this when we need to promote diversity around the world.
I strongly believe that music provides a solid channel for strengthening the core of tolerance, reducing discrimination and spreading love.
My ultimate reach for ‘Africa Now’ is to foster unity and hopefully flatten the curve of racial discrimination and profiling around the world.
What are your thoughts on African music at the moment?
African music has a lot of potential yet to be tapped on all levels, and I’m so glad that the world is finally beginning to appreciate this.
What a time to be alive! There has been a revolution. It’s phenomenal how Afrobeats is taking over the world.
Our sound is going from strength to strength it’s so beautiful to watch and even better to be part of it!
Afrobeat artists are taking things to the next level on a global scale; 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.
Let’s talk about your upcoming album Original Copy, what can we expect from it?
I honestly haven’t had the courage to put out any music since my last single ‘Gelato’ in 2019. I’ve experimented, this album is literally going back to the basics. So it has been a long time coming.
Jollof on the Jet with Rema and Rayvanny is the first single on the album and people are loving it. What were you going for with that song?
I really wanted this to be something lighthearted to uplift people. My personality is bubbly and I wanted that to come through and not hit them with too much depth.
At the same time I wanted this track to be a chance to really represent the continent.
So you love your Jollof rice?
Absolutely. We connect through food in Africa and Jollof rice is such an important part of our culture in Nigeria. The name came to me one day while travelling and literally eating Jollof rice on an airplane. I may perform all over the world, but I still love my African food and what it represents.