Dyed hair, gleaming eyes, and hoarse voice, Oladotun Kayode is always on fire. On stage, on the radio, he captivates and enraptures his audience. The thrill, the shrill and the frill he brings to the show are often enigmatic, yes, energetic. He stands out in purpose and theatrics. A power dresser and an electric performer, he’s perhaps the best hype man around. But he’s more than that, writes
Dotun is about to prank his mother on live radio and he is excited about it. It is her birthday. He told his rapt listeners across the globe and followers on Instagram what he was about to do. He would tell his mother that he joined a cult known as the Marlian cult which requires him to stay awake at weekends and will not live past 50 or 60 years. Nevertheless, he will be stinkingly rich and able to grant her all her material desires.
Cool FM, the radio station where Dotun works is known for playing pranks on listeners. In its early days when Dan Foster used to anchor the morning show, they had a dedicated programme called ‘Cool Candid Phone’ where callers were called randomly and told the most ridiculous things.
So it wasn’t ordinary that Dotun would decide to do so to his mother. His co-presenter Kemi Smallz is also anticipating his mother’s reaction but Dotun was so sure that his mother wouldn’t fall for it.
“My mom is a good Christian. I hear people say people are religious and not true Christians but my mom is a true Christian,” he says.
Indeed, she proved to be so as she dismissed Dotun’s prank telling him to be content with what he has and that a life without Christ is a crisis.
“It’s typical of her to respond that way. It’s how I know her. It’s all about God and she believes everything is from grace. That’s why I love her so much,” he adds.
Sitting in the radio studio, sporting a green-coloured hair complemented by a t-shirt, shorts and rolled-up socks tucked into sneakers, it is hard to believe that Dotun Kayode, the intern who started his broadcasting career in the radio station over a decade ago is now the face of hype in the Nigerian entertainment scene.
He started off in the production department of the station but with his unique husky voice. It was only a matter of time before he got on air. First, he was on the midnight show where he kept night owls company with good music and some sleep talk. His big break on the radio, however, came when he became the host of the afternoon show, ‘Midday Oasis’. It was a programme that was specifically designed to be hosted by women, having had popular female OAPs of the station like Ashionye Michelle Raccah and Gbemi Olateru-Olagbegi (now ex-staff of the station). Dotun thus became the first and the only male so far to have hosted the show.
On air, he was known for his wittiness and of course, his hoarse voice attracted more listeners. With time, Dotun’s persona grew. Nowadays he is known as a hype man, a term used in the music industry to describe a backup rapper and/or singer who supports the primary rappers with exclamations and interjections and who attempts to increase the audience’s excitement with call-and-response chants.
He is the go-to guy for brands, clubs and concert organizers who need a frenzied crowd for their entertainment events.
Prior to his emergence as a hype man, there have been other hype men in the music scene, notably Special Ed who worked with the defunct Mo Hits crew back in the day as well as Larry D. But none has elevated the status of the craft like Dotun had. He took the craft to a whole new level, making it a lucrative business for youngsters with a flair for music.
He totally changed the game of hype, from appearance to style. He is the first to have customized microphones (he actually has four). A powerful dresser, he dresses his hair to stand out in the crowd. Most hype men are doing the same now. He is happy that he started a movement that is steadily taking over the entertainment scene.
One of the gospels he preaches on his social media page is that hype is alive.
Believe it or not, the hype is really alive.
Nowadays, hype men are ubiquitous. Hardly can one find a Nigerian artiste without a hype man. In the clubs, at concerts, they are there, getting the crowd excited or in street parlance, gingered. Some have followed in the footsteps of Dotun, taking it as a serious business and making a living out of it.
He strongly believes there is a place for hype men in the music industry. So far, the job has paid him well and taken him to heights he never anticipated. Last year, he recalled, was exceptional.
“Last year I took the craft out of Nigeria to sub-Saharan Africa. I was in Uganda and had a fantastic show but my biggest was Zambia. I performed at a club where people usually come and sit down but in my gig, I got them to stand and dance through the night. After I left, they started having hype men in the club, it was so strange to them that I could do that,” he says.
The superstar OAP did not set out to be a hype man. As the first of three children, he was bound to toe the path of his parents who both have careers in the sciences. His mother is a nurse, while his father is an engineer. However, his parents didn’t breathe down his neck to pursue a career in sciences.
“I’m grateful to my dad for giving me the privilege to choose my career. Half the time, fathers pick the career for their sons but in my dad’s case, he asked me what I wanted to do. And I picked two things: medicine and mass communication.”
He continues: “I picked medicine because we had an uncle who is a popular gynaecologist and we lived with him a couple of times, and then my mom is a nurse. I think that drew me to it. But I stuck with mass communication.”
More than giving him the opportunity to choose his preferred career, Dotun believes his father unknowingly prepared him for his radio career. He recalled how he used to encourage him to listen to the radio as a child.
“My dad is very versed. He will read his newspapers, listen to the radio, watch TV. You will never see him watching movies on TV. He always loved to be informed. He is even more hands-on than I am,” he admits.
“He made me read newspapers every weekend. Then, we listened to Voice of America, and I always look out for the signature tune at night.”
Sitting in the radio studio, sporting a green-coloured hair complemented by a t-shirt, shorts and rolled-up socks tucked into sneakers, it is hard to believe that Oladotun Kayode (also known as Do2tun on air), the intern who started his broadcasting career in the radio station over a decade ago is now the face of hype in the Nigerian entertainment scene.
It was while on the radio that he had the brainwave to have a Jamaican house party. He teamed up with superstar DJ XClusive and together they had the party club mix every Friday night.
“It was an idea I just coined out from Jamaican parties. I wanted to do a typical Jamaican party on the radio. I used to watch a lot of videos of parties from the Chainsmokers and other artistes. I noticed the high energy in the parties and I wanted to replicate that. I felt people come to parties in Nigeria and everyone is quiet. So I wanted that high energy in our parties.”
That show birthed the hype man that is revered in the industry today. Ice Prince Zamani and Vector the Viper were the first to notice his talents.
“Before Olamide, who is a good friend of mine came into the picture, it was Ice Prince that first figured out what I was trying to do on radio. He was the first guy that believed in me and invited me to hype him on a show in London. Vector the Viper also used me a couple of times on his shows but it was Olamide that took me to a bigger stage. It was never transactional but based on friendship.”
The voice-over artist shows are mostly characterized by high energy which is why he’s called ‘Energy gad’. Once he comes on stage, he electrifies the ambience, shouting to the crowd that “if you are still sitting down, you are on a long thing,” before launching into a dance or a call and response chant.
Being a hype man is a lot of work and not as easy as people think. He explains the techniques involved.
“First, you must have a good voice, voice modulation, that is voice control. You must train your voice because that way you are not distorting the music. More important, you must study the law of engagement. You will have to understand the human mind. Interpersonal communication is very key. Another thing is you must respect the microphone. It is a tool but you must respect it. You must know how to talk into the microphone. You may be given a horrible mic but how you talk into it changes the sound. So it is important for you to understand the sound, the music, and the crowd. These are real techniques you need to know.”
“It is equally important that you research the party that you will be performing in,” he adds. “And respect the DJ as well. That way you won’t be seen as being everywhere without connecting with the crowd.”
To be well-respected in the business requires some disciplines. He expects hype men to be neat and well-behaved. Dotun points out, “Personal hygiene is very important. Honestly, I hate the way some hype men dress. You don’t have to dress expensively but dress well.”
While describing his style as contemporary, he added that everything about his fashion is attributed to his moniker, Energy gad that was inspired by the popular Yoruba deity, Sango.
“I have always loved the methodology of Sango. He comes out as an angry man but he is very soft-hearted. That is the way I am. People always misconstrue my personality but I’m actually very chill. I’m very outspoken and blunt and that’s how Sango is; he is an embodiment of fire and energy.”
He also likened his personality to the fictional god Rayden in the 1995 fantasy movie, ‘Mortal Kombat’.
“He controls everything in the room even if you have more power than him. You never see him coming. I like the embodiment of what he represents, that’s energy. The white hair, which is why I dye mine. It’s all about energy and nature.”
Not a few had wondered where Dotun gets his energy from. He could go on stage for hours, jumping and dancing. He charges the crowd to a frenzied state that most times, people forget their sorrows.
“I’m rare,” he laughs. “I have always been a hyper child. I don’t want bad energy. That’s why I’m the real energy god. There is only one God I respect, and that’s why I write mine in small caps.”
He quickly adds: “I see hype as a job. We all could be different. Just use whatever God-given talent you have for good.”
Despite his versatility in the field, the young man from Ondo state admitted that he still experiences fleeting moments of cold feet before he gets on stage.
“To be honest, there is no gig that I don’t have cold feet. But I don’t see it as fear, I see it as anticipation. I always have this at the back of my mind that they are going to like it. Regardless of what I do, I know they are going to like it.”
To date, he claims he has never had a bad show. Even when he thought he didn’t give his all, the feedback is always positive.
Happiness is his keyword. Whether he’s on the radio or on stage, pumping up his audience with his energetic chants, one thing is certain: whenever Dotun is on the mic, he wants you to listen and have fun. It doesn’t matter if you are having a bad day or not, he wants you to be happy. It’s all about positive vibes for the 35-year-old hype god
Through hype, Dotun has discovered another uncanny gift, his ability to get people to forget their worries. “It’s one of the things I like about hype and radio. I know I will be touching lives. I’m happy people come to the party, they dance happily and go home. It’s the same as the radio. People listen to your voice and they are happy.”
He recalled a certain incident at a show.
“A lady once reached out to me that she was on the verge of doing something crazy but at a party which I hosted, she was able to snap out of it because I constantly came to ask her if she was okay. People go through a lot so when they come to parties, you should help them feel good.” It is easy for him to relate with such experiences having had his own share of humble beginnings.
“I had walked from Ojuelegba to the island because I had no money to come to work then. Sometimes it gets too embarrassing to constantly ask for help. I come from a family where we were taught contentment. So, we hate begging. There are days when I have to sleep in the studio.”
Now in all modesty, he is comfortable. He wouldn’t divulge the volume of his wealth but he credits his fame to hype and radio.
“Hype and radio have really paid me. Radio gave birth to hype. Generally, I don’t owe it to the fact that I’m trying to make money out of it. I like value, and that’s what makes me happy and content.”