Michael Daapah on “hustling hard and staying true to who you are”

He’s the epitome of the rising social media star: a 24-year-old climbing the comedic ladder one laugh at a time. Urban Hype find out what makes Michael Dapaah the funny guy of the moment

Four episodes into the release of his Mockumentary ‘Somewhere in London’ aka SWIL, comedian Michael Dapaah sits opposite me and dapper he definitely is. We’re catching up in a West London studio to
talk about his latest project that has everyone literally laughing out loud.
He’s wearing a grey tracksuit, black socks and leopard-print slides in true roadman style, reminiscent
of Shaq, one of the many hilarious fictional characters featured in his skits that have pushed him to
the front of everyone’s digital radar.
“All I wear is tracksuits” he says laughing, as the team look in dismay at the lack of variety of outfits
he’s brought for the photoshoot.

Michael Dapaah mans not hot
That’s the beauty in a lot of the characters Michael brings to life – they embody different parts of his
personality and allow him to zone into a different part of his brain creatively.
“When I was younger I was a bit of a roadman. I was clever but also rebellious at times, so Shaq
allows me to tap into that side of me,” he says. “I’ll  incorporate things from the past but also
observe and use what I see nowadays.”
“Obviously I’m different now. Man’s polished baby – cream my skin and that – brush my teeth twice,
sometimes three,” he jokes in Dapaah style. “Man keeps it tidy. I look after myself. Everything’s
changed up.”
I mentally prepare myself for a good time. There’s no doubt he’s a natural entertainer and that I’m in for a memorable conversation.
A funny guy for as long as he can remember, the British-born social media personality and presenter
first appeared on-screen in 2009 as one of the original cast members of the comedy series ‘Meet the
Adebanjo’s’. He then went on to produce his own sketch called ‘I’m So Dapaah’ and has since
worked with Eddie Kaddi and Aadidas for The Spirit of London Awards in 2012, Stormzy and
platforms Cheeky Sport and MOBO, establishing himself as a much-loved media figure.

However, it was only last October he began taking his career seriously.
“I was messing about for years, just trying to find my feet – find myself. I’ve done loads of
different things and they were all a part of the journey but I wasn’t really serious,” he says.
After becoming wholeheartedly dedicated in 2016, the idea for SWIL was born. What was to follow?
Eight months of script-writing and a collaboration with Marv Brown Films to bring the visuals to life
that have led to over a million YouTube views to-date. It was the pairing of the two that made the
production such a success.
“It was really just putting creative minds together,” says Michael. “Marv is a comedy-head himself so
what I developed to a certain level, he’s added his little sprinkles here and there and we were just
able to create this body of work.
“He’s a beast behind the cameras as a director, but when it comes to the creative part, acting and
performing, that’s my thing. It comes naturally – good for it,” he says, his lips pursed and eyebrows
raised simultaneously before bursting out into laughter.

Michael Daapah on "hustling hard and staying true to who you are"
Every project comes with its difficulties and for Michael it was the process of developing the
characters. He was trying to come up with everything in one go. From how they were going to
sound, to what they were going to wear and how they were going to act.
It was when he started to actively take steps to make the script a reality that the characters
personalities naturally grew and fell into place.
“I never had the vision Patrick would talk like this for example,” he says, imitating the character’s lisp. “But I always knew he was going to have a moustache and that he was going to be a different
kind of dude. I don’t know why. I’m crazy like that,” he laughs.
One thing is for sure. He’s able to draw inspiration from anything and everything. He puts this down
to being lucky enough to have experienced many different walks of life and being given
opportunities to see different things. Even the journey to the studio and events of today are enough
for him create a skit he tells me. However, he’s not one to watch everyone else’s game-plan despite
having respect for them.
“I believe God’s given everyone their own creativity and a lot of the time people don’t tap into
it because they’re too busy imitating others. It’s not just doing what every Tom, Dick and Harry has
done because then what’s different about me? What’s spectacular about what we’re creating?” he
says.

He ensures his team have the same mentality. Regardless of all his achievements in his short 24 years, even following the release of SWIL, he has no single standout moment that he’s most proud of. It’s simply the process of seeing an idea come to life that gives him a buzz.
“Even when I release a video, it’s a high moment for me,” he says. “It’s like I had this idea, we
worked on it – developed it, we put it out and it got a great reception. It’s doing what it’s supposed
to do. It’s cheering people up. So there’s always high moments.”
More than anything he’s grateful for all the positive feedback and support from what he calls his real
Dapaahs and often gives back, recently teaming up with Turtle Bay to do a meet and eat.
“Some people have been riding with me since I had zero followers and for that I’m grateful,” he says.
“For new people that come on board, they kind of get the gist of who I am very quickly and then
they join the little army. I’m just appreciative. It doesn’t just go like that for everyone and I’m just
genuine. Everything I do is God-blessed. I’m just thankful.”
It is the success of SWIL and how well it’s been received that has finally got his parents to accept the
vision. Always supportive but never truly understanding his choice to pursue comedy when Michael
is an obviously intelligent man with the potential to be successful in a more stable job role, his mum
originally had higher hopes for him.
“You know how these black folks are”, says Michael, rolling his eyes. “Go be a doctor, or a lawyer or
something.
“But my mum is just like any other mum. ‘Michael, I want you to go and get a job.’ She didn’t get it.
“Funnily enough, she went to Ghana for a long time and that’s when everything took off. So she’s come back and she like ‘oh’. She can’t say anything now, it’s too late.”
“Now my dad would say he believes – he never believed, he just wanted to see something,” he says
laughing.
“It’s when he came to the premiere launch of SWIL that he realised this wasn’t a joke.”
Eager to find out whether there is a woman behind this successful man, I question if he has a special
lady in his corner. He claims he doesn’t hear me clearly, mistaking special girl for special girls. I
correct him and he laughs.

“Oh what, have I got a girlfriend?” he asks. After a long pause he says “no, just got to focus on the
focus, focusly”, with a smile.
With no distractions we can expect only great things from Michael.
“Yes, more work, more creativity, more collaborations, more of everything,” he says.
There’s talks that the character MC Quakes might make a few appearances at some
festivals but he’s keen to keep it hush hush. He’s excited to expand the territory and take things
where they haven’t been taken before – do things differently, with God’s guidance of course.
I leave him on the tube heading towards Wood Green engrossed in Sarah O’Flaherty’s ‘Simplify Your
Life: Tips for Developing A Purpose Driven Life And Unlocking Your Potential’. Then I remember him
telling me, “I’m Just a humble guy, with high hopes. Always doing the most.” And that’s why people
warm to him.

Words: Shanelle Manderson

Shanelle Manderson