It’s remarkably safe to wager a bet that the artiste in focus is unarguably one of the most controversial music acts on social media at the moment, yet you cannot take away from him his startling zest for the craft.
Speed Darlington who has been living in New York right from his teenage years, was born to a popular and influential traditionalist and a great music lover, Chief Perry Koma. Darlington who has a huge loyal fan base on Instagram, has also been making headlines nonstop since 2016 as a result of his controversial Instagram videos and music.
In this interview with us, the phenomenal act also known as Speedy, reveals why he snapped out of the thought of dating Tiwa Savage despite his attraction to Oduduwa ladies, explains why Tonto Dikeh is the one for him, why he wanted DJ Cuppy to pay him for a collaboration and how much he admires her, his obsession with Juliet Ibrahim and how he almost gave up as an artiste because many considered him a failure. The ‘BangdadaDang’ master also shares his views about Wizkid, Davido, Kizz Daniel among sundry issues.
Where did you grow up?
I would say both in Nigeria and in the US, but most of my adult life is here in the States. I left Nigeria as a teenager and have been in New York ever since.
Your father was a rich and respected traditionalist, tell us about your Dad and what you miss about him.
He was a good person with a little too many wives, (laughs). Different people have different images of him in their minds but he was a good person and a family man. None of his kids was born outside wedlock. So generally, it depends on who you ask about my father. Like some people will tell you to stay away from him if you like your life, you know…(laughs).
My parents had just the two of us, my sister and I, she’s also in New York here with her kids and husband. It’s just me and her now so we keep in touch a lot.
You usually post some old videos of your mum dancing, does she also inspire you musically?
To some degree, yes. Because my first experience being in front of live crowd was through her music, so she inspires me on so many levels. When I first started, I never paid attention to her advice because I felt she was always going to lie to me that my music was good even when it’s not good. So whenever I sang, I would rather look for strangers to rate me.
The memory of my Mum that I have would be the stage experience: she performing with me beside her. I was also doing music with her.
What does music mean to you?
Wow, that’s a huge one but it would be definitely mood stabilizer. You could be sad but when you hear music you feel better. I have one Italian song, I don’t understand what they say in the music but to me it sounds like what Igbo people made, but it’s Italian song and that’s what I mean by music being universal. So, sometimes you might not know what they say but the delivery and the energy on the song makes you happy.
How would you describe your sound or what genre is it?
I have been asked this question severally and I keep telling people whatever it sounds to you then that’s it. Should I say I’m a Hip-hop artist when I have some Afro-beats or should I say I’m an Afro-beat singer when I have some raps? So I try to leave it open, whatever the person describes it as, then that is what it is but then, we could say Afro-hip-pop I guess.
What inspires your music?
I just pick a topic or subject on my mind and then build on it. That’s how I create. I first of all come up with a topic and think about the message I want to send out.
How does it feel to have huge fan base in Nigeria?
It feels great you know. It validates that you are doing something good. Because I was actually struggling for like six years straight and there was nothing to hold unto. I was even at a point of changing my career but I said no, you can’t give up without performing live. If there is no impact after performing live, then go and be a pharmacist. So I decided not to give up. I did not go looking for sponsors either because nobody wants to take the risk in case it all doesn’t work out at the end of the day. So I knew there are no sponsors out there for me. People want to see you push yourself first to a certain level before even considering you. So that’s what I am doing now. Trying to push myself out. When I started, I used the $200 I saved to book for studio time, print flyers and doing everything myself. I was giving out flyers and selling my music at the same time. This actually happened in 2017, then I eventually put a show together. It was not packed but few people actually paid and it made sense to me. Like, all these people here, none of them is related to you and they feel the show was worth paying for. Plus the fact that I was not watching myself perform, I felt may be I should do another one. I did not make money the first time but I actually did not lose money either so whatever I put in I made it back but there was no profit. So I did another show which was better than the first, but I lost some money this time. At the end of the day, I told myself I was not going to give up since there were a few people who could actually pay to come see me perform.
How do you feel to have P.Diddy say you inspire him?
The same feeling of validation. That feeling I had when I first went on stage. At first, I thought Diddy wanted to work with me but I don’t read minds so I felt like if he wanted something he would contact me. For instance, I knew the American rapper, Offset, but the first time I saw him I looked down on him. I was like ‘guy move na I dey snap picture’ because I was once a freelance photographer at a court house. Nobody ever booked me but whenever I see people getting married, I would just carry my equipments in a bag and off I go to offer them my services. I used to snap, print the picture and give them out. So one day, Offset showed up and he was looking at me like you want to know who I am? He had diamonds everywhere and I was like damn, this can’t be a regular dude. He felt like he was a celebrity so I was supposed to know him which was right. If you put in work you deserve some recognition. But the fact that I don’t watch TV and I get most of my entertainment from the internet because no television carries my music, I only use the internet where my work is.
What’s your take on the Nigerian music industry and who are your favourite artistes?
First of all, massive shoutout to everyone in our industry, they are all doing incredibly well. Our music, Afrobeat is beginning to go global. People are beginning to know and even sing Afro-beats songs and it is our artistes that are pushing these songs out. So massive shout to them. There are so many I want to work with.
Who are your top 7 musicians in Nigeria?
That would include; Burna Boy, Wizkid (he’s every body’s favourite), Flavour, Kizz Daniel, Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, Tekno and Chidinma.
Let’s talk about your political ambition. Are you serious about running for Nigerian Presidency?
I am serious about running for that office. My intention for going for such a position comes from a deep place. It’s a psychological thing. A lot of scientists say that life started in Africa, I have heard this story more than once. That the first British people were dark-skinned and that they were on a journey when they became white. Now, all of these stories can’t be lies, there must be an element of truth to it and yet we run to other people’s countries more than they run into ours, there is something wrong. We were not created to go standing in lines for days looking for visas neither are we destined to suffer. If we are truly the first, others should line up to come into Nigeria instead. So I decided, instead of complaining and not doing anything about it, let me see if I can win this. Again I realized I need to campaign which involves alot of money so I decided to forgo the forthcoming 2019 elections so I keep campaigning for another four years, so much that nobody would say they have never heard of me. That is where the fire came from. I really think that greatness lies in our future and we can be whatever we want. If you love Nigeria and you are very patriotic, you wouldn’t mind dying for her but no, all we have is different tribes who are not united and I think Igbo guy is the right guy to bring unity to the land. Why because Igbo people started a war back in the day so it makes sense to have guys who are known for agitation to say it’s okay, let’s all be one. And I think I am qualified for that.
You shared a couple of videos about certain female celebrities you are in love with, one of them was Tonto Dikeh. Tell us about it.
Yes I like Tonto, but I quickly snapped out of it because, long distance relationship to me was a waste of time. And the fact that I heard she had something to do with Hush Puppi, I got discouraged but the major reason was because I am not around her.
You also said you like DJ Cuppy….
Yea, they say her Dad is rich, I asked what he does they said oil, owner of FORTE OIL, but I never heard of it so I was like okay, I am a hustler and always looking for a way to get paid. She put out a song and everybody was talking about the song, criticizing her and I remember how I started 7 years ago and how people were saying I was not good enough and that my music sucks. I kind of see her in me trying to do her thing. I decided to hit her up to see if we can do some collaboration, I give you a verse and you pay me some money. Again, somewhere along the line, I jokingly started saying I liked her which faded away somehow. But if she still hits me up for music right now, I am down for it.
Who is your celebrity crush?
In my next life, I am going to be African, our women are heavily blessed. All of them. I have alot of celebrity crush, many of them. There is Juliet Ibrahim, Tonto Dikeh, I would have said Tiwa Svage, but she has Wizkid in her life now so if I steal her now Wizkid won’t do a collabo with me (laughs).
Let’s talk about your love for bootilicious Dominican women.
Dominicans are actually Africans. Some of them don’t know that they are basically decendants of us but I like them because their culture is like ours in a way. Growing up around them, I found out that the girls have the biggest boobs amongst others. Again, the fact that they have long hair and they are not white, now that adds to the attraction. Basically, I love all women.
Who is your kind of woman?
She has to be good looking and attractive. She has to have her own source of income because the economy is harsh. She must live in New York, be a funny person because life is hard and most importantly, she must be creative.