In the conversation of the fresh crop of Afrobeats stars with dynamic new sounds, ‘Joeboy’ is definitely a keyword. Joeboy terms his distinct blend of Afrobeats, Afropop, and AfroRnb, as ‘Happy Music’, concurring with the feelings his lyrics evoke. Joeboy has shown no sign of slowing down on supplying a barrage of hits.
What began from a viral Instagram video of Joeboy covering Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You, became a fruitful campaign under Mr Eazi’s talent incubator for emerging African artists, emPawa Africa.
Born Joseph Akinfenwa-Donus, Joeboy has gone on to release chart-topping singles, perform at sold-out shows around Africa, and become a Samsung ambassador. This is the story of Afropop’s next superstar in the making.
We caught up with Joeboy to talk about his musical journey, his thoughts on the #EndSARS protest and his debut album.
Tell us about your musical journey from the early stages, and the different elements that drew you towards a music path?
Joeboy: I grew up in a music-loving family, my dad was a pianist, my brother played the guitar and my sister was in the choir so music was always a part of me, it was my safe space, always enjoyed listening to music, later finding out that I could sing and write music drew me into the game because it was something I always loved since I was a kid.
How would you describe your sound, which typically fuses different elements into Afropop ballads?
Joeboy: I basically make Afrobeats, Afropop, and AfroRnb but I love to refer to it as happy music.
Since your breakout single you’ve been on a meteoric rise to stardom, with numerous chart-topping singles all over Africa and millions of streams. How’s the rise to fame shaped your views, especially your music?
Joeboy: Yes, I’m really grateful for that. I have come to experience and learn a lot, also realized that consistency is very important and that as an artist you always have to maintain or improve the standard of your music.
Your last project, ‘Love and Light’ was excellent, top-notch, and well delivered After releasing such a masterpiece, did you feel any pressure to do more?
Joeboy: I never let the pressure get to me. I always make sure I put in my all and hope for the best, and I trust my fans, they are amazing and dem dey for me.
Lonely is a huge jam and it’s making a lot of airwaves and getting massive radio play. Can you describe to us the space you were in while recording ‘Lonely’ and also, is there any back story behind the song?
Joeboy: I wrote “Lonely” during the lockdown period, everyone had to be indoors and I couldn’t see and spend quality time with my loved ones and friends as much as I wanted to. It got me feeling lonely and I decide to make a song about it and that was how “Lonely” was created.
There are rumours of a new project in the works, can you tell us about that?
Joeboy: Yes, my debut album. I’m so excited about it because I know it’s going to change my life and get me more acclaim. I put a lot of effort and time into it and I can’t wait for it to drop, it’s titled “Somewhere Between Beauty and Magic”.
Being a young person who’s also affected by the many issues being faced by young Nigerians, what’s your take on #ENDSARS and the second wave of the protest remerging?
Joeboy: it’s been a very serious issue, about 7 out of 10 youths in Nigeria have been harassed by SARS. I have also been harassed by SARS countless times, all we are asking for as youths are just a safe environment to thrive, not to be harassed because of the way we look or the phones we use, we have a voice and we will not hesitate to use it.
You’ve performed across Africa, to thousands of fans. What would you say is your most memorable so far?
Joeboy: Every one of them has been memorable but the last show I did in Tanzania was super beautiful. It was my first time performing to a crowd in like 6months because of the lockdown and I was just so happy to receive all that positive energy.
What do you want the music you create to mean to your fans? And mean to you?
Joeboy: I want my music to always be a source of hope, joy, and happiness to everyone who listens or comes across my music. I want people’s faces to light up when they hear “Joeboypondeck“, that is also what I want it to mean to me.
Any last words?
Joeboy: I want to give a big shoutout to everyone supporting the brand “Joeboy”, more music on the way and a lot of good news coming too, also to every youngin out there, never give up, your dreams are valid.