DARLINGTON Akanite, otherwise known as Safin de Coque is the son of Nigerian late highlife legend, Chief Oliver de Coque. The Theatre Arts graduate was mentored by his father, leading to his pursuit of his own music career.
Unlike his father, Safin de Coque is an hip-hop artiste with his creative adaptation of his dad’s late 1970’s track, Funny Funny Identity, earning rave reviews. Armed with singles like Nwafor (Son of the soil), a track where the Dozage Records signing further showcased his immense abilities, Safin is set to move to the next level of his music career.
In this interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, the Ezinifite, Anambra born artiste spoke about his journey so far, his dad’s influence on his music, love life and much more…
How long have you been doing music?
I’ve been doing music since childhood. I wrote my first song when I was 10 and since then, I’ve not looked back.
How did your dad react when you wrote your first song at that young age?
He was so proud, he was happy because at that point I was the only son that indicated interest in doing music. He encouraged me, though he wanted me to play more of highlife but I told him I’d love to go into hip-hop because that’s my calling and that’s what I love doing.
Is there any influence of highlife in your music or you totally abandoned your father’s genre?
I wouldn’t want that highlife thing to die because I’m into hip-hop. I did a remix of my father’s first song, Identity. I shot a cartoon version of the video and right now, I’m in the studio working on Biri Kambiri. I want to modernize the song, add some hip-hop touch to the song, bring it out and hope that God takes it over from there.
Let’s know some of the songs you have right now?
I have Nwafor. Nwafor means son of the soil or Omo ibile. For example, if my father is from Anambra State and my mother is from Ogun or any other state outside of Igbo, I am not Nwafor. Your mom and dad must come from Igbo for you to be Nwafor. I did the song with Phyno. The video is in progress right now. I think in a month, the video should be out.
Apart from rapping, can you sing also?
I don’t really sing. I have this flair for singing but I don’t really sing because I think it’s best for an artiste to be identified with one style. Probably, when rap takes me to that level I want, I can now show the world that I can sing.
How good a rapper are you?
I’m a very good rapper, I’m one of the best.
How did you find your way to Dozage Records?
I got signed on Dozage last year. I went for a concert actually, the label management were all there, they saw my performance and incidentally, the boss is a very big fan of my dad so when he saw me performing Identity on stage, he started singing along. He was so thrilled and after the show, he called me, we spoke, I got his contact and the rest is history.
How good is your deal with Dozage?
The deal is very good for me. They got me a house, a car, they clothe me and I’m saying this not because I cannot afford these things myself but I feel they are doing it because it’s their obligation to do it.
When you were coming up, did you have periods when you felt music was not working or things were not going fine?
The time I really felt that way was when I travelled to the East to perform. The MC kind of pumped up the crowd, telling them that they had Oliver de Coque’s son in the house, if you see him, you’ve seen his dad, he’s very good, he’s going to bring down the roof and all that. So, the crowd was anticipating highlife, so I came on stage and started rapping and they were like, ‘Aha, what’s this?’ I was discouraged that day but I thank God that I was able to pull through at the end and I kept doing my thing.
What advice from your dad do you always remember?
That we should stay humble. That I must always know the son of whom I am. If I want to remix any of his songs, I should make sure that the remix sounds better than the original version, if not, I should just leave the song the way it is.
Did you ever get the opportunity to play on your dad’s band or perform with him?
I followed him to USA in 1994 when he was a Nigerian ambassador to that soccer tournament. I went with him and it was my first time of travelling out. I still appreciate the exposure till today. Since then I’ve been going to shows with him but I didn’t really perform with him. I was only on stage with him once, that was when he was singing, Opportunity, and I went to the drummer and whispered to him to change the beat to hip-hop so I could surprise my dad. He did and while my dad was still surprised at the change in beat, I just came out and did my thing. The whole crowd just erupted. I think that was when my father started really seeing the hip-hop thing in me.
You studied Theatre Arts in the university, but you’re doing music, do you have plans to go into acting later?
I never wanted to be an actor. I just studied it to perfect my stagecraft and to get used to the crowd.
What’s the best thing that music has done for you?
It has changed my life. When I lost my dad, I was so pained but whenever I listened to his songs it’s just like he’s speaking to me. I have friends that lost their dads but they can’t hear their dad speak again. So, I think I’m privileged.
How do you manage attention from girls?
I’ve always been used to girls. I handle them adequately because I wouldn’t want to make the same mistake my dad made. He was a polygamist and he adviced me not to toe that line, it doesn’t pay. It’s normal for children to learn from their father’s mistakes so I wouldn’t want to let women becloud my reasonsing. Music is my first love.
What aspect of polygamy do you hate most?
I hate everything about polygamy. A man with more than one wife, the quarrels would be there. I don’t believe in polygamy. I don’t see anything good about it.
How many girlfriends do you have?
I only have one girlfriend.
What’s her name?
How long have you been dating?
We’ve been dating for two years or three. She’s not in Nigeria at the moment but she’s coming from London to base in Nigeria fully. She went there to complete her studies.
You’re looking at getting married when she comes?
If I’m down and ready, we’ll take it from there.
– DANIEL FAYEMI