OLADAPO: I'm Greatly Influenced By Lagbaja - AfroGbedu | Appreciating African Music

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Wednesday, 8 May 2019

OLADAPO: I'm Greatly Influenced By Lagbaja

Via Mr Eazi’s Empawa project, we were opportune to chop it up with one of the 100 artists Oladapo who is known by most fans for the large padlocks he uses as pendants.

In this interview session, we picked his brains on everything from what to expect from the star in 2019, to his background.


What’s your background?
I am from a Christian Yoruba home. My mom was actually born Muslim but she converted when she got married to my dad. Both my parents are from Ogun state.

What’s your birth given name?
Tonade Oladapo Adentunji

How did you come up with your artist name? What does it mean to you?
Lol, I couldn't come up with one of those made up names because I just felt it didn't seem “me”. So plainly, I just decided to use what expressed “me” the most...hence Oladapo. It just means “me”, the real and uncut version of me.

What was the first song or album, which really had an effect on you growing up, and why?
When I was little, I listened to a lot of Lagbaja. He’s forever an icon to me, a role model, musically and in almost any other way you can think of. All his albums got to me. "We" and "200 Million Mumu" are my favourites though.

How was your #EmPawa100 experience?
It was great. They really helped get the attention I needed to get my music out there. The experience has been blissful and I'm very grateful to Empawa.
Did you set out to become a musician?
No I didn't, I was never really sure what I wanted to do with my life, I was always that smart kid that came 1st in class all the time, class captain, senior prefect and all that. Everyone always envisioned me becoming a doctor or something. My going into music now is as much a shock to me as it would be to anyone that knows me well.

What do you wish someone had told you when you were starting out? 
To google things more, YouTube more, basically, research more. You can learn a lot about graphics, production, music deals, social media algorithms and much more on your own. It really helps when you’re on the come up.

What is music to you?
Music is... Music is my safe haven. It’s my escape, my release. It’s where I express myself freely. Music is a lot of things to me. Like, if I were a mobile phone, Music would be my default setting.

What have been your top favourite pieces in your wardrobe this year?
Well, my shoes, my necklaces, earrings and my padlock.
A fan wishes to know why you always have big chains on your neck with padlocks as pendant.
Hmm where do I start...lol. The thing is, I didn't wake up one morning and put padlocks on my neck or wrist, they’re the creation of Ambrose of Wack, who was the stylist for my video “Gbe Bodi”, Wack is a fashion brand that believes strongly in uniqueness and black excellence, which is basically everything “me”. I really liked the accessory because it was very out of the box. But when the video came out, I got some people tell me the accessory reminded them of slavery and they felt it’d retard the growth of my music internationally, that black people are generally not welcoming to the things that remind them of slavery. Then I thought to myself, why would things like these make black people uncomfortable, I made a little research and found out that most of all these reactions from people were subconscious reactions. I found this video with 5-year old kids of different races taking turns to sit in front of a table with two dolls on it, one black doll and one white doll. These children were asked which of the dolls was smart, beautiful and good...all the kids chose the white doll over the black doll, even the black kids! They asked which doll was the bad doll and all the kids chose the black doll, when they were asked why they did so, all they could say is “it’s because it’s darker than the other doll”. I'm not sure what the society is doing wrong but we have subconsciously tagged everything black as bad and passed it off to our kids. I'm just trying to influence everyone as passively as I can, to rewrite that notion that “black is bad” from their subconscious minds. It’s probably why they see a padlock and feel irritated by it...if it reminds you of slavery. Then have a uplifting thought about it rather than a shameful one. We were slaves but we are here now! We were the President of America not so long ago. You’re black and invincible! Remember that! Every time you see Oladapo wear a padlock, remember that.

Are you an Independent artiste?
Yes I am. I only have a management team, Periscope Entertainment NG.

As somebody with an unorthodox musical style, would you say that this translates also towards your personal style in fashion?
Yes definitely, I really believe in breaking the norm, musically and also when it comes to fashion. My favourite quote: “Only dead fish go with the flow” embodies it all. The fact is no one leaves a mark in life by doing what everyone does. It applies to everything in life.

Why is it difficult getting into the music industry?
Funding is one thing, production, promo, content creation, all of this cost money that an upcoming artiste doesn't exactly have. Another thing is Connections, as an upcoming act, we don’t know the right people or have the right connections because we are new to the industry. This makes it harder to come up.

How would you categorically describe your kind of music and how do you separate yourself from other artist?
I categorize my type of music as Afro-fusion. I tend to experiment with my music try new sounds, and mixing genres into one song. People will definitely say your music reminds them of some other artiste at first listen, it is normal but I try not to sound like anyone and create my own unique sound.
Who has been your biggest influence?
Musically, I'm greatly influenced by Lagbaja , he’s amazing.

When it comes to your music it seems a common opinion that you’re under-appreciated in the music scene.
I wouldn’t say I’m “under- appreciated”. The fact is people cannot appreciate what they do not know or what they’re new to. That’s why I’ll introduce myself one jam at a time and also introduce “Oladapo”, the person, the best way I can.

In your opinion who is the most influential and successful artist in your genre today and why?
Afro-fusion is an offspring of Aftobeat and it’d be hard to pin down the most influential artiste in afrobeat because there’re so many great names.

Let’s talk about “Gbe Bodi”
“Gbe Bodi” is a song I wrote on my way to the toilet. I just thought to myself how it’d seen if someone actually put vocals on an Afro-Street Hop vibe and voila I came up with the chorus. I scrapped the idea at first but when I went for my first session with Semzi, my producer...it was the only vibe I could bring up and just like that, magic happened. I wanted to refine the Zanku trend and give it my own spin and I think I did OK with that.


Apart from your own music, which artists are you feeling at the moment?
There’re a lot of people in the underground music scene! Many amazing artistes, my guy Sizzle, Oxlade, Blaqbonez, Psycho YP, Fireboy DML, they’re so many...if you want my full list, we might end up writing a book.

What are the main inspirations for the lyrics you write?
I usually write with whatever I'm feeling at the moment, just whatever comes out of me at that moment.

Your favourite behind the camera people, directors/ producers?      
I’d say Directors, the directors for my “Gbe Bodi” video, Bukola Jimoh and Kelvin were so much fun.  

3 Artistes you’d want to work with?
I’ve always wanted to work with Sarz, it’s something I'm yearning for. I’d also love to work with Burnaboy, it’d be a mad song! Uhm, I would also love to work with Teni the entertainer, her vibe is different.

Lastly, what can we expect from Oladapo in 2019?
A new single should be out soon, when dates are set, they’ll be posted on my social media pages, you can check me out “@oladapoofficial” on Twitter and on Instagram. I'm working on an EP, so a body of work is on its way. There’s a lot to come, a whole lot more.
Oladapo at Gidifest 2019
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Featured Image Credits: Instagram/Oladapoofficial

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