daps director

By now you might have heard “Bad and Boujee” or if you’re the cool kid, you already know what it is. It’s the title of the Migos hit trap music video that loads of music lovers across the world have been bumping to.

The video is litty, basically a trend setting visual that has put the Atlanta rappers on another level. The star director behind the music video is non other than Daps, a fast-rising star in the global entertainment industry.

From being a jobless Masters graduate to venturing into film, Dapo Fagbenle has quickly has realized the dream hanging out with A-list Hollywood celebrities. Mike Tyson, Pusha T, T.I., French Montana, Rita Ora…you name them. The 6’8” tall creative was an NCAA basketball player throughout his campus life. After finishing his education, trying to find a well paying job and not succeeding, he started helping his brother produce music videos. It has been a steep learning curve but he’s proven to be more than good at it.

He has since worked with big names in the industry. He was 2nd Unit director for the Rita Ora — Iggy Azalea “Black Widow” music video. He solely directed Jordin Sparks’s “Double Tap” video featuring 2 Chainz.

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With “Black Widow” rapper Iggy Azalea

Daps is also the guy behind the hit “No Kissing Baby” music video by Patoranking. He’s stuck to his African roots (he was born in Nigeria, raised in UK) and seeks to help push African music to the world.

When I reached out to him, he was on a flight back to Los Angeles. Things are getting more hectic. Just a few days ago, GQ magazine described Migos’ latest video, “T-Shirt” as ‘bananas”. He made that too.

Daps with Patoranking

I had a conversation with the uber cool director and he’s what he had to say about his blossoming career:

Harun: You are undoubtedly one of the best music video directors Africa has ever produced. Your roster includes top notch artists in the world, including Kendric Lamar, Kanye West, Iggy Azalea, Migos and others. How does it feel to be representing your continent on a global scale in the entertainment industry? What are the challenges that come along with such a heavy crown?

Daps: Thank you. It feels great representing the continent and I’m glad we’ve done a good job of getting our talents out there over the past few years. One of the main challenges for me is balancing clients goals with the publics expectations/desires.

H: Most young people may think that to be in the entertainment industry, you just need talent only. However, we’ve seen celebrities like Tyra Banks and Shaquille O’Neal go back to school even after they became famous. You yourself played basketball but still went on to earn a Masters. What’s the essence of having a good education in addition to being exceptionally talented?

D: Well I think it’s a personal choice and character dependent. Education comes in lots of forms and you don’t require “formal” further education to be successful. Some of the most successful people never graduated university. I’m grateful basketball allowed me to obtain my degrees but honestly, they aren’t a necessity in this field. But it’s great for conversation! Haha

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At the MTV VMAs,

H: Your most recent project that made waves is the Migos – Lil Uzi Vert music video “Bad and Boujee”, which you directed. It is simply lit…it’s superbly amazing, uniquely different and just appeals to the younger generation. How did the simplistic but cool concept come about? How was it working with the new age rappers?

D: Thank you. The concept came about from the title really. “Bad” is good looking so we needed pretty ladies and “boujee” is stuck up so we needed them to play that part. I like having juxtapositions in my videos as it makes the art stand out. The contrast between these ladies dressed in high fashion but having them in regular environments grasped me. Then it was about adding in little elements after that — the doves, the noodles, ace of spades, silk shirts on a dirt bike.

I love rap music so it’s great working with anyone that’s cool and has dope content. Migos’ energy is insane on camera and they’re true performers.

H: One of your biggest projects to date was writing the concept for Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” music video, which now has over 780M views! You are the first ever African music video director to achieve such milestone. What’s surprising is that you typed it on your phone! How did you react when you saw the impact the video made across the globe?

D: Typed it on my phone whilst sitting in a pub! Honestly, I thought it was funny. I didn’t grow up in a nice area in London (high crime area), so anything I do is such a contrast from where I was. It does feel good though… knowing I contributed to a project that is one of the biggest of the decade.

H: You’ve closely worked with some of the biggest music video directors in the world, including Sesan and Director X – who trusted you with 2nd Unit direction for the Rita Ora – Iggy Azalea “Black Widow” music video. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve gotten in terms of having mentors in life?

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Daps with Director X

D: I learn best from watching. Whether that’s making beats, editing, or directing… watch, ask “why”, and soak it in. The thing I learned from Sesan is you can make the most out of any situation. Keep shooting and do it with a positive mind set. From Director X, I learned some technicalities of how and what to shoot, and also how to control a set. Being on set with him allowed me to be comfortable to handle any scale project with any artist.

H: In previous interviews, you have noted that Africa has amazing content and visuals and all we need to do is to propagate them for the world to see. You were once a musician. You were in the same room with Kanye as he made his album. What’s the best marketing lesson you’ve got for upcoming artists in Africa?

D: The Kanye album [Cruel Summer] was in 2012 for his GOOD Music label. Marketing wise, I’d say be yourself, have an identity and you must stay consistent.

H: What do you do during your free time when not behind the camera?

D: Eat. Eat. Eat. Develop business ideas, make music, eat.

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Him with Davido.

H: You’ve worked with many African artists, from Patoranking (No Kissing Baby) to Davido and Uhuru. What’s your favorite African music video to work on and why?

D: Probably Davido “The Sound”. Sesan took me with him out to Dubai. It was my first time there, we had a smooth shoot and the visuals came out really clean.

H: Who would you love to work with internationally in the immediate future?

D:Drake, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift.

H: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

D: Creating television content and diversifying my portfolio.

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Daps with Migos on set of a music video.

H: Finally, you were once at a point in life where you totally ran out of funds and could not get a well paying job, just after graduating from campus. There are many guys out here who are in the same situation. What’s the most practical advise you can give them?

D: Stay positive and remember someone is always going through worse. The minute you let doubt consume you, it’s over. Ride out the bad times because they’re just temporary. Winners win.

Be sure to follow Daps on Instagram to see his latest releases!

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Harun Momanyi is a leading Kenyan lifestyle and entertainment writer. His passion ranges from fashion to music. He's a true definition of a go-getter and is keen on setting trends in the entertainment industry.