Florence Ifeoluwa Otedola, aka DJ Cuppy, is the latest selector to emerge from Nigeria with a determination to push Afrobeats out into the wider world. Her party-starting sets are one of the most accurate indicators of exactly what's going on right at the cutting edge of Nigeria's Afrobeats movement. She's also one of the scene's most vital exporters, travelling across the globe—sometimes dropping in on three continents in the same week—to bring the very latest sounds to emerge from West Africa.
Cuppy's not just a DJ either; as a producer, tracks like "Vybe" and "Green Light" have seen her popularity explode, finding her fans across the UK and Europe, the United States, Canada and beyond. In fact, her popularity seems to have surged almost in tandem with that of Afrobeats itself. It's also worth noting that her sound isn't limited to just the Afrobeats coming out of Nigeria and Ghana, but also that she takes great care to follow and support the constantly evolving scenes in South Africa and the rest of the continent, while fusing these with electro and house music to forge what she calls 'neo-afrobeats'. Whatever it's called and wherever it came from, rest assured that every track featured in her Complex Session is a guaranteed hit on the dancefloor.
Tell us a bit about your selections in this mix.
The Cuppy sound is all about variety and going on a journey. I decided that I had to represent Africa, as always, but I wanted to do it in a different way. I like to always be unique with my DJ style. A lot of people know me for fusing sounds together. What you'll find with this mix is solid Afrobeats as a PROUD Nigerian, but particularly songs that I think are great crossover records. As an international DJ, I get to travel the world so I view myself as an advocate for African music and my job is to always introduce people to our sound and make them fall in love! OYA!
What was the one track you absolutely had to include?
I had to have my debut single, "Green Light", in there, which was released last year. I know it's cliché but I actually think it's an amazing song. I think that "Green Light" was a great launch pad to my career and it's just set the pace. Ever since I gave myself the green light, it's been go since then.
Any tracks that narrowly missed the cut?
It's always hard as a DJ. You know, being in my position, you feel like a politician sometimes; trying to make everyone in the crowd happy. I was going to put some more South African house including "Maradonna" by my big sis, Niniola, but I wanted to keep the BMP at a steady groove. I'm such a fan of her album, but you guys will have to wait to hear our record together, which is definitely coming soon.
What's the first single or album you ever bought?
Wow! Hmm... It's so crazy how we all stream music now, right? Funnily enough, the first album I ever physically bought, as in, went to the high street with pocket money to buy from HMV, was the The Writing's On The Wall by Destiny's Child. That album literally woke my inner Beyonce. Since my latest release, "Vybe", my friends have been calling me 'CuppYONCE' [laughs]. I mean, I'm still on an experimental path with my music and learning more and more each day, but regardless, I want to be known for inspiring others and breaking the rules.
What's the last physical record you bought?
Drake's More Life. That album has so many memories attached to it. I'm such a Drake fan and I wanted an album to live in my car without skipping tracks or getting bored. That album reminds of very good times! Funny story: I got invited to the album release party at Holborn in London, which may have been the coolest party I've ever been. You can't die until you've partied with Drizzy!
What do you want to see happen musically over the next 12 months?
There has been a revolution, not just in the UK, but around the world. It's phenomenal how Afrobeats is taking over. In the last week I've been in Toronto, Lagos and Brussels, all for shows, and all I can say is the sound 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 definitely changed. In the next 12 months, I can only see more fusion records and collaborations; Afrobeats 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 a tropical Afrobeats party. I'll tell you, Complex: it is a SHUT DOWN because everyone wants to party with Nigerians [laughs].
What trend or scene absolutely needs to die right now?
I'm a bit of a hater because I can't dance—most DJs can't!—but in Lagos, there's this frenzy over a dance called 'Shaku Shaku' and I cannot do it for the life of me! So you know what? How about a new dance wave hits Nigeria so I can catch a breath?!
1. Davido - Assurance
2. Mayorkun - Che Che Che
3. DJ Cuppy ft Tekno - Green Light
4. Olamide x Wizkid - Kana
5. DJ Cuppy ft. Sarkodie - Vybe
6. StarBoy ft Wizkid, Ceeza Milla, Terri, & Spotless - Soco
7. Afro B - Drogba
8. Not3s ft Maleek Berry - Sit Back Down
9. Dice Ailes - Otedola
10. Mr Eazi f/ Giggs - London Town
11. Bhizer f/ Busiswa, SC Gorna, Bhepepe - Gobisiqolo
12. Olamide - Science Student
13. Olamide - Wo
14. Babes Wodumo - Ka Dazz
15. GuiltyBeatz fr Mr Eazi, Patapaa, & Pappy Kojo - Akwaaba
16. Dj Maphorisa ft Wizkid & Dj Buckz - Soweto Baby
17. Naira Marley, Lil Kesh, & Olamide - Issa Goal
18. JJC - African Skank
19. Dj Tjaey - Look Like You (Remix Afrobeat)
20. Big Shaq - Mans Not Hot