Dj Cuppy has been on a self-appointed mission; the plucky billionaire heiress has struggled to articulate what that mission actually is but it seems like nothing in the world, or on the internet, can stop her from it.
Few public figures have taken a worse beating on Nigerian Twitter in recent weeks than Cuppy has, and that’s in a season of party primaries where unpopular politicians are being dressed down on the internet and shown the door in real life.
Whether it’s her comments about not identifying as a feminist, her innocuous October 1st message about Nigeria being the “greatest” nation” or her budding singing career, Cuppy attracts so much negative attention that she trends on Twitter nearly on a weekly basis.
A lot of the hate directed toward Cuppy is undoubtedly from a place of misdirected frustration.
She’s the daughter of an oil tycoon in a country that was newly minted: the poverty capital of the world. Cuppy isn’t shy about showing her family’s wealth off either.
In 2016, she and her sister Temi featured on Channel 4’s infamous documentary “Lagos to London: Britain’s New Super-Rich”, and pulled back the curtain on a life of opulence.
The exuberant DJ posts constant reminders of her lifestyle on Instagram, taking pictures on first class flights and on private jets, moving around Lagos with police escorts, partying in the Caribbean today, Ibiza tomorrow, wearing designers that most Nigerians can’t even pronounce, let alone afford.
But rather than being an empty showboat, a lot of the DJ’s online antics actually seem like a response to the overwhelming amount of hate she receives, she’s turning the knife if you will.
Some of the hate rises to the level of bullying. But DJ Cuppy seems to have the mental fortitude to not only cope but also to fire right back.
Which is good, because you get the sense that if she’s going to make it as a singer in this era, where artist development happens in front of millions of people, she’s going to need three qualities, two of which, thankfully, she already has. One is tough skin, the second is hard work.
Say what you want about Cuppy’s background, but you can’t take anything away from her work ethic.
Cuppy first introduced herself in 2013 as a celebrity DJ with a plan to establish herself in the most male-dominated profession inside of a male-dominated industry. She’s doing just that.
In the past 5 years, Cuppy has released songs and mixtapes to earn her stripes, and gone on tours and performed sets at high-profile events at home and abroad.
She was a resident DJ at the 2014 MTV Africa Music Awards, MTV’s 2-season show “Uncommon Sense” and Cosmopolitan magazine’s #FunFearlessLife festival.
She also featured on shows such as E! Reality’s “House of DvF” where she gained maximum exposure. She was crowned the Best Female DJ for 2015 at the Nigeria Entertainment Awards (NEA).
There’s no doubt that Cuppy’s privilege has helped her to open doors but over time, the bubbly DJ also had to prove that she belongs in those rooms.
If it was all about money and access, L.A.X would have skipped the “upcoming singer” stage and shot straight to superstardom.
If it was all about having a powerful dad, Ibe Kachikwu’s son Kach would have the biggest hit records in Nigeria right now.
But Cuppy has an undeniable drive to be great. While many in her position would struggle to complete year 1 in the university, she obtained a Master’s of Arts in Music Business from the New York University in 2016, to add know-how to her experience and hard graft.
But despite going on to make a name for herself, DJ Cuppy’s talent is still something of an unknown quantity.
DJ-ing mainly abroad or in her own Cactus On The Roof parties or at exclusive gigs around Lagos and Abuja, Cuppy’s actual quality on the turntables remains an open question.
Then, leaving those questions largely unanswered, Cuppy moved into the next phase of her career last year and became a recording artist.
While Cuppy had released her own songs in the past, these new songs were different — she added her own vocals. Cuppy wasn’t just ad-libing like Jimmy Jatt, or introducing songs like Spinall, she was delivering lines and whole verses.
Singer Cuppy has now released 4 solo singles in 12 months: “Greenlight” (featuring Tekno), “Vybe” (featuring Sarkodie), “Currency” (featuring L.A.X) and “Werk” (featuring Skuki), and is gearing up to release her debut EP tentatively titled Premium.
There is however one ever-present collaborator that might as well be credited alongside the rest of Cuppy’s guests, and that’s Autotune; Singer Cuppy has had to use it at nearly T-Painish frequencies to hide vocal qualities that are clearly not there.
That’s the third quality Cuppy needs to make it as a singer: a reasonable amount of talent.
The question mark beside Cuppy’s singing talent might be bigger than the question mark beside her DJing talent but that’s now two unanswered questions, back-to-back.
I know they say Nigerians love to answer questions with questions but Cuppy is clearly pushing her luck.