According to Skepta’s manager Grace Ladoja, the first time she met Skepta he was hiding behind a curtain because he never wanted to be seen.
Speaking to Radio 1 Newsbeat, Grace Ladoja met Skepta at a gig by US rapper Danny Brown but he didn’t want anyone to see him.
“He didn’t want the attention to be taken off of Danny. Most people like to be seen. He wanted Danny to shine. I knew that he was someone with integrity.”
Grace says she hit it off with the rapper immediately and in 2014 became his co-manager.
“As soon as we met, we just spoke for hours. We went for a drive and just chatted about London, his life, his vision and my vision. It was like hanging with an old friend. I don’t think our relationship has really changed from that day.”
They caught the wave the perfect time and Skepta soon became one of the UK’s most high-profile artists by pushing grime to the mainstream and winning the Mercury Prize in 2016. He had already released three albums by the time Grace came on board but it was the critically acclaimed – and much-delayed – fourth album, Konnichiwa, that really pushed him into the mainstream.
“We caught the wave at the perfect time. He had real fans that would ride or die for him. It was the best story because Skepta was an authentic person from a genre that was important to so many and he was winning. That’s what people wanted to see.”
She also praises co-manager Sam Burton who had been working with Skepta for years before: “He and his team built amazing foundations.”
In 2018, Grace was awarded an MBE for her services to music and, last week, she was named Entrepreneur of the year at the Artist & Manager Awards.
“It feels amazing to be acknowledged in an industry that I was once afraid of because when I started it felt very much that you had to really follow the rules.”
Grace says she’s – first and foremost – a filmmaker. She directed her first commercial in 2003 for Nike at age of 18. In 2017, she co-founded Metallic Inc., a creative studio and management company and also set up Homecoming, her own music, arts and sports festival in Lagos, Nigeria.