The Nigerian polymath speaks with collaborator and Modus Vivendii co-founder Jimmy, discussing what’s to come, walking for Mowalola and why their friendship will stand the test of time. 

Even in Nigeria’s crowded creative scene, DETO BLACK knows that she stands out. The Lagos via London musician, model and polymath has seen a streak of scene-stealing releases and features help her rise through the cream and into a crop of artists unequivocally changing the landscape of West African music. The secret to her success? A muscular flow pattern that flexes itself across everything from g funk to four to the floor and post-punk to electroclash.  


There doesn’t seem to be a sound or scene that DETO isn’t comfortable with. Her biting braggadocio,  filled with body and sex-positive one-liners, empowers listeners, encouraging them to be comfortable in their skin and throw up a middle finger to anyone who tells them otherwise. On her fizzy reggaeton anthem ‘F.U.N’, the superstar-in-waiting puffs her chest out and motivates us to embrace our manipulative side, galvanising the promiscuity inherent in us all. 


It’s not often that an artist makes such an impact with their first release, either. Featuring on Odunsi (The Engine)’s ‘body count’, with Amaarae and Gigi Atlantis, DETO compulsively dropped a verse while chilling with her friends in London. Odunsi had never heard her rap before but heralded the effortless wordplay and recorded a legendary closing feature over the cosmic beat. 


The collaborative essence of this moment of musical fortune is central to all that’s been lauded about Nigeria’s burgeoning Alté scene. Embracing the growing diaspora of West Africans worldwide, the movement has pulled together a pool of creative misfits across music and fashion, who continually reinvent what contemporary art can be. Europe, especially the UK, has started to take notice and it’s rare nowadays that you don’t see something inherently inspired by the culture.  


DETO and Jimmy, who runs the rebellious brand Modus Vivendii, are two of Alté’s brightest voices. Working together on fashion campaigns and unreleased music, they’ve formed quite the creative alliance in recent years, trusting each other’s judgement and running away with ideas, which seem to always make an impact on Lagosian youth culture and beyond. Here, they break bread over Zoom, discussing what’s coming next, walking Mowalola runways and why their friendship will stand the test of time. 

  • Photography Cherriebroll
  • Photography Cherriebroll

Jimmy: So, DETO BLACK, the revolutionary young artist from Nigeria based worldwide. Tell me, how is the new music sounding? 

DETO: I took a little break between my last EP and now. It took roughly a year to work on the music and figure out what direction I wanted to take it. I feel like my first EP was more experimental, finding out what I like and what I’m into. Now, my new music is more personal. I feel like I’ve grown. I know myself better and I think that reflects in my new music. 

How do you feel like you’ve grown over the last year since your previous project? 

I think I’m a lot more confident now. My first song was ‘body count’. So, I really had to get used to recording. I used to be so shy in the studio with artists. I wouldn’t even want to record anything. I’ll just be like,Oh yeah I’m just going to do it at home.’

What do you feel like you want to achieve personally this year with your music? 

I want my music to get out and to find its target audience. I’ve met a lot of people who resonate with my music but I feel so many don’t even know it’s out there. I want to do more shows and festivals. I just want to impress myself. 

What do you feel like you want to leave behind in 2023 both musically and personally? 

So, I was talking to my friend, Tiwa, the other day and I said that my one word for the year is consistency. I feel like I’ve had ideas for a long time, but I’ve always been like, I’ll just do it later.’ This year, I want to be consistent in everything: my music, my content, my workout routine and skincare routine. I realised the more time you put into something, the better results you get and the better you get at it.  

A year of self-care, self-improvement. 

Yeah. What was your New Year’s resolution? 

I think consistency. I think that’s definitely…. 

So, you literally just copied me.  

  • Photography Ben Cole
  • Photography Cherriebroll

I know, I know. But consistency is super important to me. I’ve not always been the most consistent, so this year I’m really trying to reach my weekly goals and trying to achieve everything I need to do. Who or what is inspiring you at the moment? 

So, I’m back in Lagos. I’ve been listening to a lot of music that I wouldn’t usually listen to. More traditional Nigerian music. I really like Shallipopi, he’s a new age rapper from Benin. I also like dance music.  

I feel like the dance bag has always had your name on it as you appeal to that scene naturally.  

I’m getting into it. I’m trying to blend genres because I feel like I’m a blend of different cultures. I grew up in Lagos, went to school in England, and was born in America, I want my music to reflect all sides of me.

Except from Shallipopi, is there anyone else?  

Shygirl, Replay he’s also a Nigerian rapper that I love and that I’ve been listening to a lot. 

I love his energy and his aura. How do you feel like the musical landscape is going to change in 2024 and how do you think that’s going to effect your music? 

Everyone loves Afrobeats. It’s the main thing right now. But I think it is going to evolve in a way that people aren’t expecting. I don’t really have the word for it yet but it’s very likely to be embrace many different cultures. 

Hiphop was initially just boombap but it ended up becoming so many different genres. I think this year is the time for Afrobeats to explore different things. I’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings towards your last couple of singles... 

Since my year out, the only single I dropped was ‘JUST LIKE DETO’. Honestly, I love that song. As soon as I made it, I was obsessed. It was inspired by a Vita song. I like how people use their names in songs. Most people can’t pronounce my name.  

It’s a perfect way for people to understand how to pronounce it.  

Exactly. If I’m going to be honest, I just wanted to have a song with my name in it.  

The song was very impactful in encouraging people to be themselves. I think it speaks of your impact style wise and your ability to make music. It feels like you’re a blueprint, to some degree, for a lot of girls who want to do music, so it makes sense that you released a song called ‘JUST LIKE DETO’.  Let’s talk about your 2023 highlights. What gave you the most energy?   

I did my first headline in America, which was amazing. I did one in New York and one in LA, and I had the most amazing artists supporting me on those shows: Miss Madeline, Clip, Chi and Mowa.

What do you look for when you when you collaborate with an artist?  

For music, the beat dictates everything for me. It dictates where I’m going to go with the song, what kind of collaboration I would like and what I’m going to say. If it’s someone else’s song the beat is going to tell me what to say. If it’s my song, the beat is going to tell me who I’m going to have on it.  

When you do collaborate is there any checklist that you have to see that they’ll hit? 

I just have to like their music. That’s what I love about collaboration because you don’t have to be the same, we can have two different worlds. It’s even better when we have two different worlds, and we bring them together. I think as long as I like the content that they make, whether it’s film, music or videos, then it’s all good. I like open-minded people. 

How do the relationships work with people when collaborating?  

Well, I love working with my friends and family because I feel we definitely understand each other; we have similar vibes and similar tastes. All the brands I’ve done campaigns with I love too. I love the pieces, the styling, everything.  

And Mowalola?

She’s my best friend, so it’s very easy to work with her. We’re always on the same page. I feel like we just come up with iconic stuff because that synergy is there and has developed over time. 

In 2024, who do you feel like would be an amazing collaboratorGive me some names. 

I would love to collaborate with Doja Cat. Obviously, I love Nicki Minaj too, the OG.  


Fashion-wise it’s hard to choose because I love so many brands. I like all the smaller brands I’ve been working with: 1xblue (Lois) and Kneehigh. I feel like they’re dictating the way girls dress today, just the normal girl that you see on Instagram. They are the brands that stand out in my opinion. I love IAMGIA and GCDS as well.  

We have a culture called Alté that represents the alternative side of what is traditionally known as Western African music. Where do you think its future lies? 

At first, I used to be so upset when people would refer to me as Alté, because I think it started off as something else, but I’m so proud to see what it has become. I think the future is more synergy. Obviously, we can see mainstream artists taking a lot of influence from Alte’s style. I think it’s going to maybe go the other round, with Alté taking stuff from the mainstream. It’s not as underground as it was as more people are aware of it now.  

It’s interesting how subgenres usually end up getting their best points taken from them and made commercial. In Europe, people are very focused on conventionalism. With the Alté movement, people used to look at it as very weird. Alté has started to affect things worldwide. 


Developing your visuals moving forward, touching on your current inspirations and references, do you have any ideas for things you’ve been cooking up? 

These days, I try to keep it simple. Most of my content that has gone viral is very effortless. I think people just want to see you in your authentic space and being your authentic self. I want people to get to know me more through my visuals and my music 

Listen to 'JUST LIKE DETO' below:


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