Adebola “Malike” Adigun was 9 years old on a flight from New York City to Southwest Florida, where he was relocating with his family, when he told his mom he wanted to change his name to Malike, after his favorite basketball player, Malik Rose. His family had been living in Queens, where Malike had developed a troublemaking streak and was facing expulsion. His mom moved the family to Cape Coral, lured by word of the region’s booming real estate and engaging schools, with programs to keep her sprightly kids focused in the classroom and busy after hours. “From there, everything flipped: I saw myself differently,” Malike says. “I had a lot of energy that was misplaced as a kid, and when I moved to Southwest Florida, that energy was channeled into some really cool things.” He buckled down at school, enlisted in extracurriculars and sports, and got involved with his local church. He was determined to better himself.
When Malike was in high school, his mom threw pizza parties for the kids at the local Boys and Girls Club, where he would play music from his laptop. Soon, he was DJing for as many as 50 weddings a year to pay his way through college at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), where he created the viral “Dunk City” song that helped put the school on the map in 2013. After years of interacting with a mix of professional wedding and club DJs, Malike recognized the opportunity to merge the two styles. “If you take that professionalism, organization, elegance and classiness, and pair it with the raging fun that happens at a party, that’s our business,” Malike says.
In 2019, the married dad-of-one launched his luxe wedding and event business, Curate Entertainment, with 10 DJ friends. Three years later, Malike—who’s also worked as a teacher and youth ministry leader—books as many as 500 weddings a year and manages a subcontracted team of 12 DJs, officiants and almost 40 musicians, “who, I might add, are Black and brown and minorities,” he says. He insists on three things for his crew: a professional demeanor, a dapper appearance and the energy to pump up a crowd. The team also offers fusion packages with live musician-and-DJ collaborations or, for instance, a saxophonist who wanders through the crowd while playing.
You can add upgrades, like confetti cannons, photo-booth equipment, cold sparklers and smoke machines for a dancing-on-the-clouds experience. “We want you to feel like you’re at an elegant dinner party that suddenly turns into Coachella,” Malike says.
When he’s not emceeing an event, he hosts assemblies at middle and high schools through his mental-health nonprofit Curate Hope. The issue is personal for him: Malike struggled with depression after his mom passed from cancer when he was in college, and then again when he lost his father to a heart attack just two weeks after graduating from FGCU. “I wasn’t taking care of my health … I was still running hard as hell,” he says. Now, he channels his energy into creating relatable curriculums to help students recognize and manage mental-health issues by addressing them openly through music- and dance-infused rallies, aimed at reducing the stigma and encouraging dialogue.
He humbly kicks all the credit back to his mom, her giving spirit and that pivotal moment when they moved to Florida more than two decades ago: “It’s kind of full circle the way everything has come around.”