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DJ Cuppy breaks down Africa Now

Nigeria’s foremost female DJ talks to PAM about her partnership with Apple Music as host and DJ of the recently launched Africa Now program, bringing Africa’s best and brightest to the world.

The formidable DJ Cuppy has teamed up with Apple Music to create the Africa Now program which showcases the latest and greatest of African sounds from amapiano, afrobeats, highlife, alte, house, hip-hop, afrobongo, or kuduro. The program’s mission is broad and ambitious, aiming to “fuse traditional and contemporary sensibilities, morphing into hybridized sonic fragments connecting all corners of Africa.” For DJ Cuppy, it’s a way to give a platform and support for the wide range of talent and growing interest within the continent.

PAM sat down with DJ Cuppy, a Nigerian born DJ, producer, and vocalist, who has taken a leadership role for African music throughout the years as resident DJ for the 2014 MTV Africa Music Awards, her Cuppy Takes Africa Tour and documentary, and philanthropy with The Cuppy Foundation founded in 2018, to find out just how Africa Now plans to accomplish their mission.

You’ve been a longtime ambassador for the continent, do you see that role continuing through your work and collaboration with Apple Music and Africa Now?

Definitely. Africa is endowed with an array of diverse talents and creatives that are excellent in their fields. Music lovers from all over the world have begun to see how phenomenal Afrobeat is and have been captivated by our unique sound. There’s been a spin and the spotlight is on us now. Having always championed this, it’s so beautiful to watch us finally get the accolades we deserve and even better to be a part of it! Africa Now Radio is a show created by Africans for Africans and the rest of the world with the sole aim of promoting the wealth of the African culture. It is indeed a great opportunity to keep pushing the continent forward on such a great platform as Apple Music, it’s the DREAM job!

How did you manage to link-up with Apple for this program?

Creating a platform for African creatives to shine has always been a part of my mission. The African culture has been deeply integrated into the Cuppy brand so when I got the job to host Africa Now Radio, I knew it was not a coincidence but a result of my hard work over the years. We did a demo a year ago with Apple Music. Since then the Apple Music team has worked passionately to shape the show into what it is now.

Is Africa Now more tailored towards foreigners looking into the African music scene music, or a representation of what’s popular locally?

My show bring the biggest and best from the continent on a weekly basis. Africa is a large continent and there is still so much being done in different parts of the continent that needs exposure in other parts of the continent as well as the rest of the world. I have 60 minutes to shine the light through the creative industry in Africa for Africans, the best part is I am an African myself. Authenticity is EVERYTHING.

Credits: Gabrielle Kannemeyer
How do you plan to represent the vast and diverse music of an entire continent?

It’s honestly a lot to cover. Raw and pure talents emerge daily with mind-blowing tunes. The main aim of Africa Now Radio is to shed light on the beauty that is resident in Africa so much that there is an engagement with the continent. The beauty about the show being on a platform like Apple Music is that when you add a song from the Africa Now playlist, you have access to many others like it and are sucked in. There are so many other playlists linked to music on the continent including a newly launched ‘Africa Rising’ which showcases the next gen superstars.

 Does your experience as a DJ bring a particular perspective to the program?

Everything I am is infused into Africa Now. My experience as a DJ helps me coordinate, identify and manage new and emerging sounds and creatives as well as the already established creatives. As a DJ, I am privy to songs across different genres from Africa and the Africa Now platform gives me a chance to share it with the rest of the world. One of my favorite parts of the show is my weekly DJ mixes, which ends our journey with a BANG!

Do you plan to include non-English speaking artists and producers in your weekly chat?

The Africa Now Radio show is for all of Africa and it will be impossible to talk of Africa and leave out the cultures and languages that make up the continent, non-English speaking artists and producers will be featured on the show. Allez!

Credits: Gabrielle Kannemeyer
Can you elaborate on your quote with the Associated Press where you stated Africa Now is, “a narrative of Africa then to Africa now ”?

African music from inception to where it is now is a long and eventful journey that needs to be told. Telling the story of African music requires that we tell the events, cultures and models from the beginning, how they have been reinvented constantly from time to time to what we have now.

While Apple Music is available in 33 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, its adoption isn’t widespread. How does this affect your choice of programming?

Apple Music has an office on the ground in Johannesburg, South Africa, with a team of local African editorial experts covering all genres and regions across the continent, and are heavily engaged working directly with the local African artist community. This team is constantly growing and there are so many exciting plans ahead. Stay tuned!

Do you have a hand in the selection of the Africa Rising artists?

The artists featured in the Africa Rising program and companion playlist are selected by Apple Music’s editorial team on the continent. This has definitely become one of my essential go-to destinations to discover new artists to feature on the show.

What’s your hope for Africa Now moving forward? Do you or the program have a particular vision for the future of African music?

African music has come a long way. Our artists have taken over and are putting their best foot forward. With a platform like Africa Now and Apple Music constantly exposing how much Africa has to offer and attracting direct and indirect investment into the creative space in Africa it is quite unimaginable how much can be achieved in the future. One thing I can tell for sure is the time for Africa is not just now but forever!

Credits: Gabrielle Kannemeyer