Lagos is HER. Lagos is the lady that has all the attention of every single guy on the block. In Nigeria, Lagos is the lady with the latest 100% human hair, prettiest acrylic nail set, perfect-fit lashes, simplest-yet-most expensive LV purse and everything exquisite.
This is how other cities in the country perceive her. So, it’s everyone’s dream to make their dream come to life in Lagos. This is probably because there is a market for almost everything in this city, and this also applies to the music taste of it’s inhabitants.
Unlike most of the other regions which have specific major audiences (like hip hop in north-central, grime in Abuja, a particular strain of Afro-fusion laced with struggle stories in Port Harcourt et al), Lasgidi has an audience for hip hop, alternative, highlife, pop, bongo, ponpon and sounds that are often even less-appreciated in Nigeria like rock, EDM etc.
And so because these sounds are not in the mainstream, it is often difficult to find its creators and even DJs who appreciate them. And this is where Uncle Bubu has his biggest flex – his ability to blend these rather “foreign” genres with popular sounds from Africa and make them savory to local ears.
“I have huge dreams and goals but I feel lIke even if I reach those goals, I would never be satisfied, which is a good and bad thing
This genre-bending and disc jockeying in general is an ability he picked up during his time in the United Kingdom, which he so fondly calls “jand”; thanks to the kingdom’s wealth in street lingua. He learnt to spin wheels while in college and hasn’t stopped doing so since then, even regardless of his engineering degree.
“Kent, Jand. That’s where I did college. Before that, I used to play for my secondary school socials. I would just play off iTunes, but then at A Levels, I was intrigued by this Spanish guy who was also a DJ and was about two or three years younger than I was. I was about 17/18, and I wanted to do what he was doing.”
He had to relocate from there to Lagos in order to pursue this avatar-like career, and even though that is a very brave feat which I hold him in high esteem for, it is not out of that respect that I refer to him as uncle.
“I feel lIke people always ask this questIon. Well, my name is Chukwuebuka. ‘Bubu’ actually came from when I was a child.” And the ‘uncle’ simply adds to the swag.
We go ahead to have a talk about how all of this started for him, some of the challenges he has had to face and what he thinks about the future. Know that some parts of the conversation have been trimmed or altered for speedy reading and better comprehension.
Tell me how DJing happened for you. Did you grow up wanting to be a DJ?
For me, I had always been interested in anything that had to do with music in general as a child. You know as a child, you look up to your parents in everything. You want to be doctors, engineers, lawyers. So when I was younger, I used to love to sing but then, I always told my parents, ‘I’m going to be a doctor or a gynecologist or a plastic surgeon’.
I also had a passion for football but that was at the sIde. When I got into college, I saw someone that was DJing and he was younger than me and he was 15 at the time. I was about 17/18 and he was Spanish and I was very impressed wIth the fact that this guy could do that.
Where did you go to college?
Kent. Jand. Before that, I used to play for my secondary school socials. I would just play off iTunes, but then at A Levels, I was intrigued by this Spanish guy. I was like ‘wow, that’s crazy’ and then I got into uni and he used to go to the club with us. I had always been someone that goes out so it wasn’t anything new. It was just on a different scale.
I downloaded Virtual DJ and then I started to study it. From there, I got into DJing and obviously, using Virtual DJ is an amateur thing, so one day, I went to an event and another DJ mocked me for using it and I was lIke, ‘wow, I’m usIng a beginners software. I have to up my level’. That’s when I decided that I was going to really take this DJing thing very seriously.
How did your family take it?
They didn’t take me seriously. I studied engineering because I failed biology completely. It was not for me at all. My mum was very proud of me still but now, knowing that I am not going to be an engineer because of DJing, she is very sad about it. Till date, she asks me about my degree. But I get it. In their time, these were the things that were at the top of the food chain.
How long did it take before you started making money off DJing?
The first money I ever made from DJing was a year after I had started taking DJing serIously and this was in 2015 and I made 50 pounds. When I started, I made a mix and then sent it to a lot of people and even to my manager and my manager said, ‘this mix is good but you can do better’.
Everyone else that I sent it to just ignored me. No one took me seriously and then I just kept on doing it; making mixes. I did a couple of house partIes but I didn’t make money from them. It was mostly free and I was terrible then, but people would hype me up and say, ‘oh Bubu you are the best’. Don’t belIeve the hype. So yeah, I made my first money from a club booking and it was at Portsmouth. That was fun.
What city is your favorite to DJ in?
Obviously, I would say Lagos, because Lagos is a vibe.
Would you say Lagos is a good environment for DJs to grow career-wIse?
I’ll look at this questIon from a different perspective because I came from the UK to Lagos and I knew that if I remained in Jand, beIng a DJ, I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I’ve gotten now that I’m In lagos. Over there, even though everyone feels like they want to japa and stuff, it’s still not home. You’re actually Nigerian.
First of all, you’re a black person, which pushes you to the bottom of the food chain, and then you’re now Nigerian as well which is seemingly even worse. I knew that coming to Lagos, even though it’s a hard place and the constant hustle and bustle is here, I just knew that this was going to be serious.
“I might end up doing other things other than music so I can’t really tell right now. Let’s just see how it goes.
There were moments where things weren’t good at all, but I knew that I just had to keep on going and I think that’s one of the reasons I love Lagos. So I’d say it’s a good place to build your career if you’re coming back to Nigeria. But yeah, everyone has their own journey and this is just my own opinion.
Did you ever experience gate-keeping?
Uh, not really mehn. Till now, I mind my busIness in terms of the DJ community. I don’t want to be in everybody’s space and I don’t want anyone to be in my space, so I don’t really ask people for help or ask OGs for help. I’m actually a loner. It’s just recently that I started to interact with a lot more people but left to myself, I wouldn’t ask anybody for help.
I don’t think gate keeping was a thing for me but again, I can only speak for myself. I’m sure there are other people that would say, ‘guy, I could’ve gotten this booking for this amount, but this older person said no’. Everyone has their own story. Even older DJs, when they got to know me and had discussions wIth me, they just eventually liked me and involved me in their stuff.
Can you call some names of people that had that flow with you?
DJ Obi, amazing guy. One of the nicest old DJs out there. He’ll tell you how it is and he won’t sugar coat it for you. Obi is a real guy. He’s actually one of the realest people in the industry. If there’s one thing I can take from him, it’s just him being real with people and a nice person as well. Other DJs that have helped me out alot in terms of when I moved back to Lagosare people like DJ TGarbs and DJ Java. They really helped me and put me through.
There was also a babe called Lala. She wasn’t a DJ, but she really put me on. Smallz the DJ as well. I can’t forget Smallz the DJ. This is inside Nigeria though. Outside Nigeria, I’ll say the artist – Afro b, because he used to be a DJ but now he’s an artist – and a white guy called J Fresh. These were the people that really put me on.
Speaking of DJs turning into artists, we have seen a lot in the last decade. Do you have such plans?
I can’t lie, it’s only time that would tell. Because I can end up doing other things other than music so I can’t really tell right now. So let’s just see how it goes.
What would be the benchmark of fulfillment for you?
I don’t think I can be fulfilled if I’m being honest. I have huge dreams and goals but I feel lIke even if I reach those goals, I would never be satisfied, which is a good and bad thing, but that’s just how I feel. I would love to be as great as God. I would love to leave a legacy where I would be worshiped, so I don’t think I can be satisfied. There’s always a lot more to gain and reach for and as a human being, I believe everyone should be aspiring for more everytime.