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Reason To Brag: Deto Black Interviewed

"High risk, high reward…"

Exploding on to the scene with a string of stand-out features Deto Black’s transcendent energy is pivoting her towards world domination. The 25 year-old celebrates a universal outlook on life, being born in the United States, before growing up in Lagos to then spending recent years shuttling between Nigeria and London. “Just being in different countries allowed me to take bits from different cultures and in a sense form my own,” she muses. “I would put it into my life and live my life that way. I think it made me a lot more open.”

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It’s these experiences that have shaped the voice behind Deto Tejuouso; in conversation, she’s confident, assured, placing each word carefully – whether that’s music, or her academic success. Reminiscing on the latter, she says: “It gave me this sense of freedom. I feel like studying social anthropology really had a big impact on my life.” Despite drawing away from education, the same discipline and willingness to learn remains in her stride, and in turn her new-found passion for making music. “I’m taking risks but it doesn’t even feel like I’m taking them because it feels right. High risk, high reward.”

Amongst fond memories sparked by her iPod Nano – readily equipped with Lil Wayne, 50 Cent and everything Y2K – is the moment Deto truly envisioned her path in music. Becoming close friends through styling jobs and frequent encounters around Lagos’ bubbling night life, Deto Black’s musical ability first revealed itself to none other than alté’s spearhead, Odunsi (The Engine). “He played the song (‘body count’) for me and I was like, yeah, I want to rap on this! I just felt like I could do it. I did it and he loved it.”

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Although surreal in its unravelling, it is this spontaneous yet organic approach that has carried the young star through the first steps of her career, recently featuring on Skepta’s ‘FRANCHISE REMIX,’ as well as working on his Nike SKAir 5 launch. Now establishing herself alongside grime royalty in the UK, Deto remains a key player within Nigeria’s flourishing alté scene. Defined more as a movement than a particular sound or style, Deto insists that “it’s just what they call people who are different in Nigeria. If you’re not part of the mainstream, then you’re alternative – it’s like a shortened word. It kind of started off as an insult but then I guess people just embraced it”

Debut EP ‘Yung Everything’ stands for liberation in all its forms – through sexuality, aesthetics and a refusal to conform. With a tracklist that soars through elements of hyper-pop, dancehall and you-can’t-sit-with-us anthems there is a playfulness that comes with Deto Black’s artistry. Breakthrough banger ‘Tesla’ is a roaring engine, fueled by a bulging bassline and an uncompromising, sex-positive lyricism that accelerates as Deto chants “this that freaky shit!” Yet just around the corner tracks like ‘F.U.N’ diffuse this restless energy with a slower, hypnotic rhythm, an essence of reggaeton that platforms the running themes of self-confidence and boldness. “When I used to listen to music, I always wanted something that was going to lift up my mood. So I wanted to do that with my music, I wanted people to feel empowered, strong, free.”

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At the core of the IT girl is a self-expression that manifests itself just as poignantly through her visuals and fashion. Repping cut-out silhouettes and platform boots, Deto Black notes her mood as the main compass for her creative decisions. “Fashion has always been something I felt comfortable with even though I was shy because you don’t have to talk through an outfit, it just talks for you. Sometimes I feel gothic, I just want to be dark and quiet. Sometimes I want to be sexy and loud, sometimes I want to be cosy and low key.” 

‘Yung Everything’ stays true to its creator, detracting from any one form of genre and encouraging experimentation. Deto Black is more than a rapper, and her music embodies this in its diversity. “Human beings are very complex and we shouldn’t be simplified and put into this one box. I feel like we should embrace all the different things we like and realise that that’s what makes us.” With hopes to perform in Lagos by the end of the year, we’re taught to expect the unexpected from this rapper, model, stylist and everything in between… the multi-faceted Deto Black.

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Words: Ana Lamond
Photography: Jurga Ramonaite
Fashion: Matt King

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Source: https://www.clashmusic.com/features/reason-to-brag-deto-black-interviewed

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