Dapo, X3M Music’s new act dreams big
The session with Arogundade Oladapo Ayoola, otherwise known as Dapo in showbiz, is somehow similar to that of singer Simi some year’s back, when X3M Music first showed interest in signing her. In fact, it was the same room, the same desk and sitting positions.
The routine, like that of Simi, was equally similar; we first ran through the interview and then followed up with a listening session right inside their state of the art studio. But whether Dapo’s professional music career would be as successful as that of Simi, is a matter of time. However, with strong backing from Steve Babaeko, the CEO of the music company, who has ears for good music, the young man’s future obviously lies in his own hands.
My parents knew I actually wanted this music and I also wanted to be a Sound Engineer; I had several meetings with them, making them understand my decision. It’s actually not good financially for us; stock market hit my dad when it crashed and he has not been able to pick himself till now. Notwithstanding, I’m not going into music because of the money, it’s my passion. I told them that I want to do my music, which means I had to put a halt to my education. But I will still go back and get my certificate. They agreed with me and they have been supporting me
A native of Abeokuta in Ogun State, 18 years old Dapo is a 400 level student of System Engineering at the University of Lagos. Though his romance with music dates back to his teenage years when he joined the church choir, he eventually moved up to performing at campus gigs and later joined Adekunle Gold’s band as a backup singer. However, participating in the season 9 edition of the MTN Project Fame West Africa Reality TV show was all it took for the young talent to hit limelight.
“I eventually got to the finals and was the fourth runner-up out of six finalists. Though I didn’t win the competition, participating in the show was an eye opener for me; I had the opportunity of being mentored by some of the best talents in the industry. Though it was a competition, it was an opportunity to make new friends,” he noted.
With his exposure on Project Fame platform, which was viewed from across the globe, many had expected young Dapo to take advantage of it and step out big. But for the artiste, there was need to take a break and work behind the scene.“I went underground for almost two years, recording and trying to get my songs to label to listen. I also used that opportunity to personally sell my craft on Instagram and Twitter, posting videos of myself singing; I needed people to see and appreciate my music.”
If there’s one artiste Dapo kept in touch with during his days of working underground, it was 3XM Music’s Praiz, who is also an alumnus of Project Fame. In fact, he shared most of his songs with the award-winning singer, who eventually secured him a lifeline.
“Praiz was the Judge in my season, so, he got to see me throughout my stay in Project Fame. For like a couple of months, I was posting music online. But I saw the full interest by X3M Music to sign me; I was really working towards it day and night. I actually moved out of my parent’s house, sleeping in the studio to record songs and getting them to hear it.”
He continued: “I did a couple of songs and got them to say yes, ‘this is the kind of song we want.’ So, one day, I got a call in the morning saying, ‘congratulations, you an X3M Music artiste.’ I was called to the office to sign a contract of three years with two albums,” he said.No doubt, X3M Music has built a solid platform and network that supports young music talents to grow; Praiz and Simi are living testimonies to that.
“X3M structure is perfect,” Dapo noted. “I looked at it, for a label to have this kind of structure, and I have this talent by Gods grace, I’m grateful. They can actually push me to an extent that I will really blow. Before my talent will speak for me, and X3M pushes and put me out there, I will go far. But I’m not going to wait for the platform to push me all alone; I will also push on my own side,” he said.
There was a label that came for me the period X3M was doing their background checks on me. But I weighed my options and decided to stay with X3M. The label actually had a partially good deal for me, with large sum of signup fee, house, accommodation and car. But I didn’t look at the quick money and other things; I was looking at the future. They can give me all these now, but at the long run, can they consistently support my music? Can they wait and say, ‘let’s see how this guy gets moving; let his music boom.’ I just felt X3M was the best for me
According to Dapo, most music labels in Nigeria lack necessary structures and support system needed by young talents to succeed.“Many of them out there are owned by ‘yahoo boys,’ different kind of people, so, their structures are not alright. I was looking for the best structure for me; I think this is the best,” he said with confidence.
Though he was desperately looking for a music platform to develop his career, Dapo was particular about not signing for just any label. “A lot of them actually came taking to me, including some foreign based labels. There was a label that came for me the period X3M was doing their background checks on me. But I weighed my options and decided to stay with X3M. The label actually had a partially good deal for me, with large sum of signup fee, house, accommodation and car. But I didn’t look at the quick money and other things; I was looking at the future. They can give me all these now, but at the long run, can they consistently support my music? Can they wait and say, ‘let’s see how this guy gets moving; let his music boom.’ I just felt X3M was the best for me,” he noted.
According to Dapo, a lot of young talents, who got it wrong with music labels, paid the big price. “That’s what happens to most artiste; they just jump in because of the money. At a point, you see them fizzle out. Some of these artistes are relaxed; they just want the money. Once money starts coming in, a lot them would say they don’t want to do music again. That’s because they are not passionate about their music. I’m passionate about my music; I want to keep pushing my music to a very large extent,” he said.
Meanwhile, joining X3M Music just after Simi, who has become an instant success, obviously puts some level pressure on Dapo, who is determined to succeed.“I’m human; it’s normal to be under pressure when you are entering a place of high expectations. But I’m ready to work; I will not give up. I will still keep working as I was doing when I left Project Fame. I will keep working till my craft is appreciated.”On his genre of music, he explained, “I do Afro fusion; I can do Afro dancehall, Afro-pop, Afro-R&B, Afro trap and others. I always put that African sound in every genre of music I play,” he hinted.
Though currently in the university studying System Engineering, Dapo seems to have made up his mind to pursue a career in music.“My parents knew I actually wanted this music and I also wanted to be a Sound Engineer; I had several meetings with them, making them understand my decision. It’s actually not good financially for us; stock market hit my dad when it crashed and he has not been able to pick himself till now. Notwithstanding, I’m not going into music because of the money, it’s my passion. I told them that I want to do my music, which means I had to put a halt to my education. But I will still go back and get my certificate. They agreed with me and they have been supporting me,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dapo’s relationship with X3M Music has already paved way for his latest single, Necessary. The song, which comes with a video, talks about the ups and downs of life.“Everyone knows money is needed in this life, it’s important. I put some of the things I went through in the song; like eating agege bread to survive. At some point, I couldn’t even afford N100 bread and considerable amount of beans. So, I buy N50 bread and little beans without meat. So, I put al that in the song just to remind myself where I was coming from, that God should bless our hustle and let us gain fruits out of it.”
Listening to Dapo’s Necessary, you can’t but notice that he sounds very much like Wizkid, especial with his new single. And when it comes collaboration, the Star Boy is top on that list.“Every artiste would say Wizkid because he has the hustle spirit, but I would also say Praiz is one of the people that influenced my music in terms of hustle spirit; I also like Kizz Daniel because his talent is really good. Mayokun also has the pushing spirit; he is my guy and friend. He is a talent and he keeps pushing, though he’s under Davido.”
Currently, Dapo is working on a new track with Mayokun, which is expected to hit the airwaves soon.“He’s out of the country; once he is back, we would hit the studio together. I also have a couple of song with Praiz. But as time goes on, I want to get more songs and collaborations with the likes of Davido, Wizkid and international collaborations.”
Recalling his early years as a budding talent, he said, “At seven, I didn’t know a lot of things. When I got to the age of fifteen, my mum gave me my pictures of me singing in church. I decided that this talent is not a joke; I took it serious. In secondary school, I won basically all the talent hunt competitions; I once performed at the Muson Centre and was recognised. My secondary school took me out to different places to show off the talent,” he enthused.
In UNILAG, the story wasn’t different.“When I got into UNILAG, I started doing videos of myself singing, posting on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It got to a point, INJOO, a phone company was launching HALO Phone, I put together a group; one singer, another two guitarists and myself. INJOO reognised us and told us to back Adekunle Gold; we performed in the UNILAG Main Auditorium; that’s where it started. We eventually disbanded when I was going to Project Fame; I had to face my own hustle,” he narrated.
For now, Dapo’s target is to get nominated and eventually win the Headies Next Rated category, which usually comes with a brand new car.“I have big dreams. I also want to win Best Afro-pop Single, Best New Act, New Kid on the Block… I want to sell out Wembley Stadium. I said that to my manager and he said it is not possible. I keep telling him there’s nothing impossible. If you keep working putting in work, by Gods grace, it will come to pass,” he said.