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DJ Cuppy


Behind The Music: DJ Cuppy

Meet our February IKON

BY Amahle Melokuhle

Feb 04, 2021, 01:20 PM

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DJ Cuppy
“I’m confident in my capabilities as a strong black woman. I’ve grown from being a young girl with dreams to a woman with a global vision.”

Meet Florence Ifeoluwa Otedola - DJ, producer, philanthropist and first-ever YAZA IKON who is better known throughout the world as DJ Cuppy. This year was a big one for Cuppy as she launched her debut album Original Copy and helped tackle the COVID-19 crisis across Africa through the Cuppy Foundation.
When COVID-19 hit in 2020, Cuppy knew her foundation had to help, and so joined forces with Save the Children International and Stallion Empowerment Initiative to donate PPE, face masks, sanitizers, hand washing bowls and stands to state governments and the Nigerian Red Cross Society. “I made the decision to allocate 50 million Naira as a commitment to the relentless fight against the virus. Beyond spreading awareness, we had to take actions and I’m happy that we were able to make a contribution."
DJ Cuppy
Protecting and empowering minorities is something Cuppy is passionate about, and just one of the reasons we’re proud to name her a YAZA IKON, an honour she doesn’t take lightly, saying: 
“Being celebrated as the first YAZA IKON is really humbling and I feel very honoured. It means so much to me, being part of a great cause and to be recognized in such a manner."
But what is a YAZA IKON? An IKON is a woman who is successful in her own right, who knows who she is and what she stands for and who uses her power for the greater good. And so each month we'll honour a YAZA IKON who inspires us all to do better. 

Philanthropy & Making An Impact

“I started the Cuppy Foundation in 2018 because I wanted to keep making an impact, but on a much larger scale," explains Cuppy. "I’ve always been an avid champion of caring for people around me, especially children and the vulnerable in society. I believe that everyone deserves a chance at life and opportunities to excel. I am what I am today because my parents believed in me and equipped me with the necessary tools and for that, I’m very grateful. However, not everyone has that privilege and I think it’s our responsibility as members of that same society to assist in whatever way we can.

“Through the Cuppy Foundation, I’ve managed to help provide the necessary facilities for the most vulnerable in African society. Our key areas of focus are education, children, young women, health and general wellbeing.”
DJ Cuppy

A Proud African Woman

Originally from Epe, Nigeria, Cuppy’s father is energy tycoon and philanthropist Femi Otedola while her mother Nana Otedola is an entrepreneur who owns a number of businesses. And Nana is the one who taught Femi his negotiation skills, according to Cuppy!

Currently based in London, Cuppy loves the freedom that comes from being based in the UK but is first and foremost a Nigerian woman.
“I miss Lagos - its vibe, the food, the collective love for the culture, everything. I always say that before I am Nigerian I am an African!”
While there’s no denying Cuppy’s privileged upbringing, it’s her drive to use that privilege for good that sets her apart from other young musicians, and a trait she attributes to her parents. 

“My mother and grandmother are two really strong women who have played a huge influence in shaping me to be the woman I am today. They always taught me to treat people as I’d like to be treated and not to look down on anyone. This has, without a doubt really shaped me as a person and those words have been the benchmark of my relationship with others; both personally and career-wise.
“My dad, Femi Otedola is my life and career mentor. I’ve learnt a lot of valuable life lessons from him and if I wasn’t in the music industry, I would probably have followed in his footsteps as an oil trader. He is such a talented businessman and philanthropist, there’s always something to learn every time I speak to him. I am also very grateful to have a wise network of people around me and privileged to have some of the best counsel which help me make really informed decisions.”
DJ Cuppy

Fighting Sexism & Expectations

A celebrated DJ, this year saw Cuppy finally realise her long-awaited debut album Original Copy and hit a career milestone with the launch of Africa Now, a show on Apple Music which celebrated African culture and sounds. 

But success hasn’t always come easy to Cuppy, and despite her background and family connections she still faced inherent sexism within the music industry. 
“Being a female in a male-dominated industry I have had to kick down doors and work twice as hard to get to where I am today." 
"Over the years I’ve learned to stay true to myself and trust my gut. I’ve come to discover the disparity between genders and to not let it be a limitation. I’m confident in my capabilities as a strong black woman. My approach is to do what it takes so I put in the work to achieve every goal I set.”

And that work is apparent on Original Copy which sees Cuppy collaborate with industry names on a sound she calls “neo-Afrobeats”. Collabs include Grammy winner Wyclef Jean, Julian Marley, Sir Shina Peters and UK breakout stars Ms Banks and Darkoo. The album was years in the making, and is described by Cuppy as intentionally “pushing the envelope”.
Original Copy

Musical Success

“The release of my debut album is a project I am so proud to have achieved. Original Copy is inspired by me wanting to be unapologetically myself and push the envelope. It was all about finding the balance between playing music and making music in order to put it together. An interesting fact about the album title is that it’s an oxymoron. There is no original version of you, there is no copy of you and there is no way anyone can replicate who you are, so it’s a play on words. 
“I came across this quote that I have instilled into my life which says 'you are born into this world an original so don’t die as a copy,' and that’s what I am doing by living each day to the fullest.”
“I’m super proud of my African heritage and a buoyant representative of my culture anywhere in the world. I’m so proud to be Nigerian. What I love most about my country is our tenacity, persistence, and our attitude of “never backing down”. We always rise to the challenge and we are a set of enterprising people. My African roots are deeply integrated into my Cuppy brand, so much so that even when I’m not home, I’m always representing. My clothing and affinity for beautiful Ankara printed outfits is another way I like to pay homage to my heritage.”

And with her eyes set firmly on driving the Cuppy Foundation and her musical career forward, it’s clear to see there’s no stopping the DJ Cuppy train. “My talent is a platform for more things to come and every day the Cuppy mission gets even bigger.

Original Copy is available now

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