Kida Kudz: Afropop Odyssey

From Ibadan's Streets to UK's Melodic Rhythms, Unveiling the Path Ahead

Interview: Tobi Efunnowo
Photography: Daniel Uwaga
In the vibrant tapestry of the UK music scene, Olukayode Odesanya, known as Kida Kudz, emerges as a Nigerian Afropop sensation with a compelling narrative. Rising to prominence as the victor of the second edition of the Peak Talent Show in 2010, Kida Kudz has seamlessly woven his musical journey with collaborations featuring artists like Ms Banks, Burna Boy, and Octavian. This article unfolds the chapters of his life, from the streets of Ibadan to the bright lights of the UK, exploring the battles with his darker side. As we delve into his compelling story, Kida Kudz tantalizes us with a glimpse of what he has in store for the new year, promising an evolution that mirrors the dynamism of his artistic prowess.
Kida Kudz wears pants from Lolas Brand and Jacket from InstaMall.ng

How many Tattoos do you have?
So I got one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Look, this is the alien that says F*ck You. This is IB City. You know, I grew up in IB City. You can't really see because I'm a bit dark. There’s Hassan Street, where I grew up. This is JBFC.

I have some shit tattoos. I got it in Yaba actually.

When I was like 17, I went to Yaba and I got this mic. It was dead, bro. But I didn't want to cover it. No, no, no, I was 14, bro. After I won the Peak Talent Show, I thought I was it. I mean, I have millions. So I just looked for a tattoo guy, and I remember it was outside Unilag.

Why would you draw a tattoo for a 14-year-old? And then you were drawing a Dragon and a Mic. You know, it kind of makes sense now because I kind of referenced it later in my music. It kind of makes sense.

But yeah, this is my favorite tattoo right here. This is the Jiggy Boy stamp. This one hurts. The way I did it, I flew my tattoo artist to LA, me and my manager. And obviously, my manager loves tattoos, right? Then he started getting an eagle on his back, like a massive eagle. I'm like, what? I'm the artist here. Like, what's going on here? Then I got Jiggy, I got JBFC. My manager went to tattoo Jiggy Boyz in red, on his abs. I said, no, fuck it. I want it stamped. But it was fucking painful, bro.

I don't really care so much about tattoos. It’s just if I have a chance. I did an exhibition last year in London and I was just f*cking around. My same guy was in the exhibition. I said, you know what? put Slashes Club there. I'm not really a tattoo guy like that. I don't think I'll ever be. When I'm in my first hundred million, then maybe, a hundred million pounds tho.


So tell me, how are you feeling right now?
Great, man. This is the happiest I've ever been. Like, yeah, for sure. I had two years of dark times. You know, I was hiding and I was dealing with mental shit.
And yeah, man, I’m just here like a G, bro.


Congrats on the new music…
Bro, niggas ain't had no music here. Like, everyone's going to cry. That's the new hashtag. The opps are going to cry. Too many things coming.My next two singles are ready. Videos have been shot. You know, it's just going to be back-to-back greenfire next year.

Kida Kudz wears Denims from We Are Thirsty, and durag from InstaMall.ng
Kida Kudz wears Denims from We Are Thirsty, and durag from InstaMall.ng

How do you feel about your new music?
So I went to Jamaica. I wanted to see the blue waters. I just wanted to have peace of mind, you know, because I grew up kind of mental. Then I didn't want to make music. But there's these guys I was speaking to like four years ago from Jamaica. They’re producers. But then they were trying to connect with me. So I met them at the studio.

I was having a nap,  some hot nap. I was sweating because it was hot in Jamaica. And then I like to feel the heat. That's why I come to Lagos because I like the sun and shit. So then I woke up from the nap and then I heard this beat. And then I said, f*ck, I need to record this one. So it was just like I was free in my mind. You know, I was just like enjoying myself. I wasn't making music for anyone. I didn't know it was going to come out.  I was saying a lot of things. Like the first line was, what did I say again? I said, different country, but the same ghetto jungle, you know. And I was speaking about myself. I was speaking to God as well. So it was like me just letting go. And then like, you know, I just felt nice about the tune. But them man said, yo, we're shooting the video tomorrow.

Because in Jamaica, they don't waste time.

Like if they record today, they're going to shoot a video today. Vibes Kartel has been in jail. Obviously my kids are half Jamaican, so I kind of know about it. So Vibes Kartel drops music every other Friday. So the thing with them is that their culture is different. That's how it used to be. I don't know about everyone, but I used to be in Nigeria when I was younger. Because when we recorded songs today, we dropped it today. You know what I mean? We didn't use to wait on promo plans, all that stuff. We just drop it. No hashtag, none of that, you know. So that's how this dude moves. They drop music every other day.

So I was there. I made at least six new tracks. They wanted to shoot six tracks, you know. But I did one. And then I was on my way to the airport. I got to the airport. They called back and said I shouldn't be on my flight. They're going to pay for another flight. But yeah, I'm definitely going back there next year. Because I really love nature. I like Victoria Island, I like to see trees. That's what makes me make music. You know, I like to see nature. I like sunshine. I don’t really love the UK. It gets gloomy and dark. It gets you moody and shit, you know. That's why I like to be on the bright side, you know. My best. I like the spiritual side.

Kida Kudz wears pants from Lolas Brand and Jacket from InstaMall.ng

You sound like a spiritual person…did you have a spiritual upbringing?
I won't say I did, but come on, bro. I grew up in I.B., bro. I know about the dark spiritual side. And I can't lie. I've been against spirits. My house is crazy. But the thing is that one time, so they told me, the prophet told me that God needs me. I don't know about all that right now. I don't know how that's going to work. Because you know how they do it. No one is against spirits. You know what they do to you? They'll bring you to the front, right? And they'll try to make you like, you know, help everyone in the church. But then I don't know why. They said I was spinning. I don't know about all that. But I said I was spinning. But then I do, I'm very spiritual. I like to pray, you know, and I do, I know God listens. You know, like I've had like, you know, testimonies. "It’s a Vibe" was me fasting and praying. So the day I fasted for a week, then I broke my fast on a Friday. And I have a thing with Fridays because I was born on a Friday. My name is actually Jimoh. That's actually my name. So then I went to the studio and the song just came and I knew it was a gift. And trust me, six months before the song dropped, nothing was really going on. I remember, my boy Dio called me and I was like, the song was 600K on Spotify. I didn't even know what Spotify was, I didn't even care about Spotify at that time. I was like, shit, let me go see. But it had grown to a million. Then I was like, it's not how God gave me a song that's not going to give me something special with it. And I remember I was coming back from uni one time and I got back in and I sat on my sofa and my boy was chilling. I got a DM from this lady. She was like, yo, Universal Records said they want your number. I was like, you're asking? Send it!

You know, I came in from the cold and I sat on the sofa. And then I got a call and said to the person, can you send me the address to Universal? And the guy sent the address. Copied and pasted it to make sure I saw it. That night, I did not sleep. I was walking in the box of my room like that, all night.

Because at that time niggas were not getting signed. The only people that were signed were probably Tiwa Savage, Burna, Wiz, and no one else. Maybe David, but nobody else. I've got to be real, before nigg*s started coming to get that money. I was the first on the front line. So it was very fresh. It wasn't like it used to be, and it was from Universal. So I was so excited. And at the time I was studying music production, and I was studying music business as well. It was contracting week and then I had a real contract in class. I went to class, and I was like, I got a contract from Universal. No one believed me. So then I told my lecturer to help me, like, break it down. I lied to Universal people. I said, this is my mentor. I took him to Rockstar. He's like seven feet tall. He's got a tattoo all over his face. I thought he was the perfect person to come with me. I went to the meeting and then he was the one speaking for me. You know, after that, it's been nice, man.

Kida Kudz wears a T-shirt and Sweatpants from Garmspot and accessories from InstallMall.ng
Kida Kudz wears Denims from We Are Thirsty, and durag from InstaMall.ng

What's the music like growing up?
My first cassette was Haruna Ishola. It was Soyoyo, that was my first cassette. And I would be lying if I said that it doesn't show in my music. I feel like it's in there. It was Apala first, then it was Lil Wayne. It was first Apala then, then we got Lil Wayne. So I feel like the mix of Lil Wayne and this Apala that I got, that's where I came from. So I remember I used to walk down the streets with my Walkman. My sister's friend, she’d like stopped me on the road and was like, Kayode, come and sing for us. But then I didn't know. I just loved it. It was cool as f*ck, you know?

Then, I feel like me like growing up more, learning stuff, you know, when you're in Ibadan, you feel like you're in the desert because of the brown roofs over there, its not like Lagos and stuff.

I feel like Ib people are the coolest. Sade Adu is from Ibadan. She was born in Ibadan. I have a lot of friends down there, and they are so cool. I mean, they overlearn things, you know, because we're not from the city. But I was born in Lagos, bro. As I said in one of my songs, I said I was born in Lagos, but after I moved to Ib. I moved there when I was age three.


When you were a kid, did you always dream of being an artist? or when did that happen?
So all my life, I've always been doing stuff, right?
I've been on TV since I was like age seven. Like I've been dancing for my church. I used to be in a group, bro. What? I wish I never went to the gym, man, because like I don't want to be like a goofball dancing. It looks stupid, but yeah, I'll just do the two steps now.

But yeah, I used to be in dance groups. I've been in like four dance groups. I used to dance in stadiums. Like it was actually lit. It helped me in becoming an artist. My first rap was in the church. It was because we're doing like something like, I can't remember… It's like, you know, when, they bring everyone together for like a week, retreat? I don't know. Yeah, something like that.

We used to come together with my dance crew. So we used to do the rehearsals and then they were like, oh, you're going to do a special kind of thing on this Sunday and they want us to make music, right? And they said they want me to rap. So one of my OGs wrote my first rap for me. Then I was just gassed about it.

But then I didn't think I was going to be an artist, I just knew I wasn't a normal human being. I just knew that I wasn't going to be like my friends, because when I was in school, my friends were talking about, how they saw me on TV from Yinka Ayefele’s music video or Funmi Aragbaye's music video. I was out there, it's so funny. You could find a clip there on YouTube, you know. It's funny as hell.

Kida Kudz wears Denims from We Are Thirsty, and durag from InstaMall.ng

What was your biggest inspiration in your early music?
It's my life. My story. Because I came from zero. I have seen things that I never thought I was going to see.

The first time I got my check, I ran and went to America straight. I thought that guy in America, straight, I went to America so I can see what was going on, you know what I mean? Because when you're coming from I.B., America is like another land.

I went to LA by myself. I flew down to New York by myself to just see what was going on.


How old were you at the time?
Nineteen. I've done some shit, man. But the thing is that I'm very quiet and laid back, right? At the same time, with the people that I'm around often, I'm very lively. When you see me for the first, it takes time for me to cheer up and whatever, but people don't really know what I be getting up to.

I don't use my phone. Like I really don't use my phone. I have a son now, my son has autism. Then I did tests and found out I had autism as well. So I've been dealing with a lot of masking all my life, trying to be what I'm not to people. So it's just like me just trying to keep the balance. But I'm trying to be out more now. I don't like to be outside, you know, but my job makes me be outside. I like being on stage, but I don't like being in the club. Watch for one day you see me in the club, you’d be like, what's wrong with this guy? You think I'm securing all my friends, But it's just PTSD of f*ckery that's happened to me. But fuckery happens every time. So that's why I don't want it to be that day, you know?

So do you ever feel insecure in your artistic expression or are you always so confident?
I'm very confident. I do this for God. I don't go to church, so I'm not trying to sound like some Christian right now. Like I do this for God because I know talent comes from one place. And if you don't use it, it gets taken. If you don't multiply the talent as well, it gets taken away.

I believe that I do this for wherever source that's coming from, you know, for example, yesterday when I was performing, I felt like a twitch. And it's like my passion came out of nowhere. So I started rapping with passion and I was feeling, I'm like, you're enjoying yourself. So like it's nothing about people watching you, it's about what you're enjoying. You know, so ever since that came out, I don't wait for people to tell me if the song is great or not. If I do it for like the cheesiness or I'm doing it for like to blow up, that's different. But I don't, you know, I make real stuff music, you know, like I actually speak about my experience and you know why I'm going through. I'm dropping a song in January 1st, which is literally about me coming out of the dark side. I was happy I recorded that song because it made me feel better when I was done.


You mentioned like a zone you entered while you were performing, can you describe how it felt?
It's mad. It's like an effect. I wasn't interested in the show because they were pissing me off, the venue, all of that. So I grabbed the mic - I said, I'm going to leave in five minutes, blah, blah, blah. Then I started playing the songs. I performed 20 songs yesterday, I swear.

I've done a show in Abuja this year in January. It was 2000 people. I've done like 32 songs and they knew everything. Do you know what that means?

It means that I got these special people in a community that I'm already building. But I just have to keep going, so I can like spread it, and I'm taking my time. I'm not rushing. I know when you're rushing, you rush out. And also I'm not trying to do no f*ckery music to get up there.You know, shout out to Burna. Burna is probably the only A-list artist I speak to that shows love properly.


What does Unruly mean to you?
It really means not giving up. Unruly to me is like you being yourself, not caring about what people are, you know, you just being bold. You just not caring what the people are saying and you just stepping out with your chest high and telling them like, yo, this is what I do and I'm unruly with it. You know what I'm saying? It's very easy like that.


As we conclude our immersive journey into the rhythmic world of Kida Kudz, the resonance of his Afropop Odyssey lingers in the air. From the vivid streets of Ibadan to the pulsating beats of the UK, Kida Kudz has artfully woven a tapestry of cultural influences, collaborating with musical luminaries like Ms Banks, Burna Boy, and Octavian along the way. His compelling story, shaped by battles with the darker side, unfolds as a testament to resilience and growth. As we stand at the crossroads of his past and the promise of the future, Kida Kudz leaves us eagerly anticipating the next chapters of his musical evolution. The harmonies of his journey continue to echo, leaving us captivated by the melody of a true Afropop maestro.

Interview: Tobi Efunnowo
Photography: Daniel Uwaga
Project Manager: Adesewa Adeniyi
Asst. Project Manager: Ubong Inyang
Styling: Olawale Seun
Set Design: Jonathan Albert
Location: Garmspot Studio
Production: Studio Unruly

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