From dentist to DJ

In this issue we look at the unusual story of a Nigerian dentist who ended up making it big as a dance music producer in Europe.

If you grew up in the 90’s you’ll be very familiar with Dr Alban and his dance hit, “It’s my life”. But this legendary Eurodance producer originally chartered a very different career path.

Alban Uzoma Nwapa was born in Imo State, Nigeria, to a large family consisting of 10 brothers. Shorter after completing his schooling in Nigeria he followed his uncle who had taken a job working at the Nigerian Embassy in Sweden. Alban chose to study dentistry in Stockholm.

To help finance his studies he started DJ’ing at well-known Stockholm nightclub, Alphabet Street. Soon Alban began to develop a name for himself within Swedish dance music circles due to his approach of providing his own vocals to his mixes in a sort of slow-rap style.

After graduating from dental school he opened his own practice and continued DJ’ing as a sideline pursuit. It was during this time that he met Denniz Pop from the SweMix label. Together with Denniz and rap artist Leila K, he released his first album Hello Afrika in 1990.

This album achieved a respectable level of success earning gold status and selling over 250K units in Germany. His big breakthrough however was just around the corner. In 1991 he launched his second album, One Love, which comprised the megahit, It’s My Life. To date the music video on YouTube has garnered 126 million views.

It reached No.1 in Austria, Germany, Israel, Netherlands and Sweden and No.2 in Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The song quickly became infectious across Europe and many other parts of the world. With this rapid found success Alban closed down his dental practice to pursue a career in music full time.

Alban went on to release a third album in 1994 called Look Who’s Talking, and then a fourth album in 1996 titled Born In Africa. Although both of these albums achieved top 10’s in multiple European countries, they failed to produce a catchy tune like It’s My Life which could take them to platinum status.

Since then he has remained in the music scene collaborating with a diverse range of artists including Sash! and Jessica Folcker. One of his most recent project came in May 2020 where his song "Hello Sverige" (in Swedish) was launched to encourage Swedish citizens to respect social distancing measures relating to Covid-19.

He continues to reside in Sweden with his wife Kinher Mansson and their two daughters. They visit Nigeria on holidays every so often.

In the News 🚀

🇳🇬 Nigerian ecommerce player Pricepally, who we recently featured in our interview series has closed a 6 figure pre-seed round to enable further expansion across Nigeria.

🇾🇪 Egyptian healthtech startup TakeStep has raised a seed funding round to expand operations across the Persian Gulf.

🇰🇪 Kenya became the second African nation to roll out 5G through mobile operator, Safaricom.

🇾🇪 Venture capital firm Sawari Ventures has announced it has closed a $71 million fund for investment in startups across Egypt and the Maghreb.