With “Yung Everything,” Deto Black Is Poised for World Domination
DETO BLACK has many talents—songwriting, modeling, and photography, to name a few— but following the rules isn’t one of them. If anything, the Lagos-born rapper is known for doing just the opposite. Now 25 years old, DETO BLACK (born Deto Tejuoso) had two degrees under her belt (in social anthropology and global governance) before making a name for herself with sex-positive lyrics grounded in the sociopolitical issues at play in Nigeria. DETO BLACK has kept her steadily growing fanbase on its toes—first with her standout verse in “Body Count,” recorded alongside Odunsi the Engine (a leading voice in Nigeria’s alté movement), and now with her debut EP, Yung Everything, out this week. As she readies for world domination, the artist took a break catch up with her childhood friend and frequent collaborator, the designer Mowalola Ogunlesi, and to share some exclusive polaroids with Interview from the Yung Everything release party in London.
MOWALOLA: How did we first meet?
DETO BLACK: My earliest memory of us was in schoo. You were working and I was like, “No, you’re not supposed to do it that way,” and you said, “Mind your own business.” I was like “Okay, I like her.” The rest was history.
MOWALOLA: It was nice to find someone that I could see.
BLACK: You felt connected to me.
MOWALOLA: What was your first impression of me?
BLACK: She’s strong, I like her. When I was young, I had anxiety and I was very shy, so I couldn’t really express myself fully to people, while you were not thinking about things so deeply, it was light energy, but you’re also able to tell me to mind my business.
MOWALOLA: So tell me about “Brag.”
BLACK: That was the first song I recorded. Chino gave me the beat and I went home to write lyrics and it was just vibes. It was around the time when I had ended my relationship and I wasn’t going out as much, so I was feeling like a bad bitch. I don’t even need to try that hard, it’s just natural to me. I didn’t need to do too much because the beat was already sick.
MOWALOLA: What were the musical inspirations on the song?
BLACK: You know what’s crazy, I was actually having this conversation earlier today. You know the Nicki Minaj lyric, “I don’t even know why you bother at this point.” I didn’t realize until this morning but I guess Nicki is in my bones. It’s the energy that she was giving off.
MOWALOLA: What did you grow up listening to?
BLACK: Lil Wayne, of course. That’s how I found out about Nicki. It was a lot of hip-hop in my house, and my mom used to play Get Rich or Die Tryin’ in the car, so I was obsessed with 50 Cent. Also Soulja Boy, obviously, and most American pop music. M.I.A. came along, and that was the start of afrobeat. What did you listen to?
MOWALOLA: I was listening to a lot of hip-hop. Whatever my brother was listening to, I would listen to. He was the one buying the CDs.
BLACK: My cousin used to put my songs on my iPod for me. She told what I wanted, but she would just put what she liked.
MOWALOLA: I never heard any emo songs in my childhood. And then, when I did I was like “hmm what is this.”
BLACK: When was the first time you heard emo music?
MOWALOLA: It was when I went to undergrad.
BLACK: Oh my God, I feel you. Sad music came in so hard.
MOWALOLA: It’s vibes. It makes me feel good. How would you describe the overall energy of Yung Everything?
BLACK: I just want girls to feel strong. I feel like it’s a very feminine album. Before, I was like, “It’s for the girls, it’s for the girls,” but feminism is for everyone. Actually, no, it’s for the feminine and the feminine is in everyone. I want people to start seeing their feminine side as powerful, strong, and free—nobody should ignore that side. Femininity is actually crazy, there’s so much strength in that.
MOWALOLA: Who are your style icons?
BLACK: You. My mama. Everyone around me inspires me so much.
MOWALOLA: What inspires you to pull a look together?
BLACK: My mood every day. I want to feel great. What inspires you?
MOWALOLA: I can’t explain, because it’s always changing. This morning, it took me forever to figure out what the fuck I was gonna wear.
BLACK: It be like that sometimes!
MOWALOLA: Cause each day I’m changing.
BLACK: There’s definitely a mood, if you want to be comfortable. For me I’m just casual today.
MOWALOLA: Today I’m feeling very Barbie.
BLACK: We like that idea. It’s very nice.
MOWALOLA: You look like a star. It’s like a pearl necklace with a silver butterfly.
BLACK: And a white tee that I cut this morning. And a little pixie mullet.
MOWALOLA: Where do you find the best shit? Clothes, shoes, everything.
BLACK: Ugh, online.
BLACK: Depop and Instagram.
MOWALOLA: Whatever my friends wear and they tag, that’s what I find.
MOWALOLA: What’s the best party you’ve been to?
BLACK: I feel like it’s gotta be my own release party. That was the best party, it was so exciting. Oh my God yes. But before that party, what was the best party that we’ve been to?
MOWALOLA: There’s so many.
BLACK: Zack Bia’s birthday was lit.
MOWALOLA: That was fun. I lost my phone, but it was fun.
BLACK: Oh my god! That was like what…2014, 2015? It was really nice because it was unexpected.
MOWALOLA: The best nights are like that.
MOWALOLA: What’s next for you?
BLACK: This question is just so hard, I cannot tell. I used to think about my life in three years, now I just think about two weeks. What’s going to happen? I don’t know. We’re just going to see where all of this goes. Hopefully greatness and happiness. Right now I feel great, I’m super excited. I want to say anxious, but I’m not anxious, I’m excited. I’ve been energized, not sleeping that much, but in a good way because the EP’s about to drop and it’s just gonna be so much fun. It’s like my baby is coming out.
MOWALOLA: I can’t wait for the videos to come out. Honestly, watching you create your artwork, that shit is so inspiring. Makes me wanna put more out there myself.
BLACK: Literally, that’s how you make me feel.