Nigerian-born London rap star Richard Seun Olarinoye,
My DC stands for Dock City, the area where I grew up in London. I grew up in a neighborhood called Woolwich Dockyard. As kids we nicknamed it Dock City or DC. That’s where my name comes from.
Growing up, I was a huge rap fan. I used to play soccer. It was where I focused, until I went to college. With my love for rap, I just thought, “Let me write something.” And when I wrote, I realized that was pretty good. So I decided to get into rap music and I started writing lyrics, writing about my experiences, other people’s experiences, my feelings, any idea that came to me, I wrote it down. The more I listen to other rap music, the more I am inspired to write my own lyrics. Rap is street poetry. It is rooted in street culture and societal happenings.
My favorite rapper is J. Cole, an American rapper. He inspires me a lot. I also like Jay-Z, Kanye West. Along with British rappers, my favorite is Skepta, a Nigerian whose real name is Joseph Junior Adenuga. I grew up listening to Skepta. He’s probably my favorite British rapper. Over the past five years, he has established a connection with Nigeria. He did songs with Wizkid. He made Nigerian music popular in the UK through his collaborations with Nigerian stars. He is a legend of the British rap scene. There’s another rapper named Giggs. He is also British. These are the kind of rappers I grew up listening to. British rappers are different from American rappers. The way of life is different. Our way of speaking is different. British music is a bit faster. We rap faster. In America, the pace is slow. In my opinion, UK rappers are more talented right now in terms of writing. I don’t know Nigerian rappers. I listen to more Nigerian Afrobeat: Omah Lay (Understand). I don’t listen to Nigerian rap. Nigerian music is amazing. It’s international now. In my opinion, being in the UK, it’s currently the #1 sound in the world. You can tell because everyone is trying to make African music. Everybody’s trying to get an Afrobeat track, trying to do remixes. You can see the impact that Fireboy and Ed Sheeran had with the song Peru which went to #1 and everyone is doing their own remix. It can only be good for Afrobeat.
I was born in Lagos on September 6, 1994. I moved to the UK to join my mother when I was four. My father is Nigerian. This is Dr. Steve Olarinoye. He is based in Ilorin. And I am Richard Seun Olarinoye, the only product of my father and my mother Ronke Ogunkoya who studied nursing. I have no musical training. No one in my family has ever made music.
The first single I released was freestyle on YouTube. And it worked very well. It got me a lot of attention. I was at the University of Kent at the time. I studied sports management. In 2020, I released a song on YouTube called Neighborhood which got 3.3 million views. And from there I released a project called In The Loop which did very well. I guess that’s what caught my attention.
THE FOOTBALLER WHO HAS NEVER BEEN
I’m pretty well known in the UK among emerging artists who are doing well. If I hadn’t been a rapper, I would have tried to play football. I used to go for tryouts in a lot of academies. From 16 to 18 I went to Leicester, West Ham, Exeter, Blackpool to try my luck as a footballer. When I was in college it was just football, football and football. But unfortunately, I did not seize the opportunities. After football, I went to university. And that’s where I learned to rap.
Chelsea? Certainly not. I am Arsenal. As a footballer, I played centre-back. With my height of more than six feet, people asked me if I played basketball. I already played it in college but I have no passion for it.
At school, I gave mom a lot of trouble. As I was almost finishing my studies, I was fired. And at university too, I was fired. Life is full of ups and downs. She’s an amazing mom, very supportive of my music career. Me and her, we are very close. We wear the same dreadlock hairstyle. It’s easy to talk to him about anything. I don’t know how it happened but I have a big fan base in Germany and all over Europe. There is a platform in Germany called Colors and they invited me to come and play. That’s how people started to hear me in Germany.
My dream is to become as big as possible. There are so many struggling rappers in the UK right now. It’s like football. Everyone is trying to be a footballer, everyone is trying to be a musician. London is a small city, but it’s a bit more difficult to get there. My style is a mixture of British grime and garage.
I really enjoyed my Christmas vacation in Nigeria. I also went to Ghana where I have many friends. I would love to collaborate with Wizkid and Omah Lay one day. Internationally, I think Wizkid is bigger than Davido, but Davido is also big. Davido is also massive, but Wizkid is a superstar. Only Wizkid can sell the O2 Arena in the UK for three days in a row. He is the first African artist to do this. Few people can do that. I don’t think Burna Boy can do that. I know Burna Boy won the Grammy, but it’s a matter of timing. I don’t think Wizkid’s album came out when Burna Boy won the Grammy. So it’s really a question of timing. But I think Wizkid is definitely bigger than Burna Boy but Burna Boy is not far behind.
Burna Boy, I have to say, is unique. When I first heard his music, I hadn’t heard music like this from Africa. He’s one of the few artists who made a lot of people who didn’t listen to Afrobeat start loving Afrobeat. That’s why you have to give him his credit. Especially in the UK. He made Afrobeat quite popular. Him and Wizkid, they made Afrobeat popular. I also like Davido. He’s one of the artists that I didn’t realize I knew so many of his songs until they were played and I knew the lyrics. This is where I realize that I guess I’m a fan. Davido is also amazing.