DJ Cuppy, DJ Switch are among Nigeria's female DJs spinning against stereotypes

Men have long dominated Nigeria's DJ scene. However, a new breed of highly successful female DJs are challenging the ...

Posted: Jul 31, 2018 4:29 PM
Updated: Jul 31, 2018 4:29 PM

Men have long dominated Nigeria's DJ scene. However, a new breed of highly successful female DJs are challenging the status quo, attracting legions of fans and changing perceptions both at home and abroad.

Among them is the masked DJ Switch who first rose to prominence after winning the first African edition of X-Factor in 2013.

Although she won as a rapper, Switch has concentrated on forging out a career as a DJ and wants to take on the men at their own game.

"The DJ scene in Nigeria is obviously male-dominated. A lot of them are just scared, to be honest, of what potentially a woman could do," she says.

"I am being really frank on this issue," she continues.

"There are very few male DJs that just are happy to see you. To be honest, in my experience, I've only met one here in Nigeria, and I've met a lot outside Nigeria who are just happy. They tell you, 'Wow. What you did is great. I want to learn what you did. Can you show me that?'

"They don't look at the gender," says Switch, who considered working as a geologist before opting for a life behind the decks.

For Switch, she is an artist first and a female DJ second.

"I don't see a gender in front of that term DJ. It's an art." she says. "I'm an artist, and so I will refer to myself as a DJ. But for the purpose of making people really see, really appreciate the work that I've put in, I'd say female DJ."

One of the best-known performers in Africa, is DJ Cuppy, who prides herself on flying the flag for her profession and for African music on a global scale.

She has found a home of sorts in London and a base for her mission to increase the influence of African music.

Having studied in the UK, she performs on the London circuit where her company Red Velvet Music is also situated.

"For me its all about advocacy, making sure that people are aware of the beautiful sounds," she adds.

"I want people to feel like 'gosh, I want to find out what all these songs are,' because it's so different to what they are used to."

Cuppy is the daughter of Femi Otedola, one of Nigeria's wealthiest oil magnates.

She acknowledges her privilege and says she wants to use her success to inspire other female DJs.

"I'm in a very unique position, because typically when a lot of us grow up in Nigeria, we're told if not to be housewives, we're told to be doctors and lawyers," she says.

"I feel like my brand is speaking of a bit of a rebellion movement, where we're saying, 'you know what? Women can do this as well'."

This new generation, or 'rebellion movement' as Cuppy calls it, is already changing the landscape and inspiring the next generation in the process.

"Women are very, very powerful," Cuppy says. "It's just about unlocking that power. A lot of the time as a woman you are constricted as to what you can do. I had to leave Nigeria to realize my power.

"Because of what I have been able to achieve outside Nigeria, a lot of young Nigerians are now taking the same risks, and actually, Nigeria is modernizing."

DJ Switch believes that any aspiring female DJ is required to show she has the skills and technique to compete alongside their male peers.

"How I am changing people's perspective is trying to make people understand, first of all, that DJing is a craft. It's an art. It's not just mixing music."

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