100% Deto Black: the Lagos scene’s rising alt-rap star

Photography by Armand Da Silva

She’s best mates with Mowalola, pens sharp sex-positive lyrics about gender equality and has rapped alongside Skepta and Unknown T.

When Deto Black featured on the free-spirited Nigerian artist Odunsi (The Engine)s tune Body Count alongside Amaarae last year, she sent shockwaves around social media. Her slick lyrics – Don’t worry about your body count, let your body bounce” – put out a clear message: women can, and should, own their sexuality.

The musician and Mowalola muse also rapped over the beat for Travis Scott’s single Franchise with Skepta, Lancey Fouxx and Unknown T, and she has subsequently released two solo singles, Tesla and Brag – unapologetic, high-energy bangers made to remind girls around the world that they are that bitch”, while subverting preconceptions of how women, and particularly Nigerian women, are expected to behave.

While Black, whose real name is Deto Tejuoso, has been slowly but surely climbing the rungs of the alt-rap ladder, she’s also completed an undergraduate degree in social anthropology and an MA in global governance. As you do.

Black’s highly anticipated EP, Yung Everything drops on 6th August. In the meantime, familiarise yourself with THE FACE’s 100% questionnaire below.

10%: Where were you born, where were you raised and where are you now based?

I was born in Delaware, I was raised in Lagos and I’m based between London and Lagos now.

20%: Love, like, hate?

I love fashion, I like broccoli and I hate when people talk like they know everything when they don’t really know that much.

30%: If you’re cooking to impress someone, what will you make?

Probably steamed broccoli with some salmon.

40%: What kind of emotions and experiences influence your work?

Sometimes anger, sometimes happiness and love.

50%: When did you realise you could do what you loved for a living?

Last year, when I had the [Bodycount] feature come out and it got such a good reception. I quit everything else I was doing and focused on putting myself out there completely.

60%: When did you find your confidence as an artist?

When I finished recording my EP. I’d been going to sessions with other artists to absorb and learn, but when I finally completed it and recorded all the songs I thought, wow’. I’m still growing every day, but it feels like I’m actually very secure in my identity as an artist now. I’d record, go out and be inspired, then record again, have those different relationships, friendships and experiences that contributed to it.

70%: Biggest pet peeve?

I really hate it when I ask a really simple question and I get a long answer. That really annoys me. Like please, summarise. I tend to daydream, so if I ask you are you going to the mall tomorrow?” you have to tell me yes or no. Not yeah I’m going, but first I need to stop here and there…” No. I didn’t ask for all that. Just get straight to the point.

80%: How did you celebrate your last birthday?

It was a whole weekend thing. I hosted a club night in Lagos, and then I went to lunch with my friend. I also had a house party, it was so much fun. My birthday is in December, so there’s always stuff going on in Lagos.

90%: What can artists do to help save the world?

Send out a message. I used to underestimate how important just speaking out on something was – you’d be surprised how many different ideologies and ways of thinking there are. It’s very important to make your perspective known. Everything starts from a conversation.

100%: Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

The best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten was from myself, and it’s to just trust myself. I listen to advise, but when it comes down to it, that natural sense of intuition is there to guide you through life. I wish I’d known that earlier. I probably would have been doing music a long time ago if I’d just listened to myself.

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