The Sweet Sun-Kissed Melodies Of Nigerian Superstar Joeboy

Nigerian singer, songwriter and afrobeats star, Joseph Akinfenwa-Donus, better known as Joeboy, was raised in the inner cities of Lagos. Fluent in the pivotal genres that are hip hop, RnB and of course Nigerian Afro pop – the young artist inevitably shows a sturdy foundation of knowledge when it comes to music giants such as 2Baba, D’Banj, 9ice, P-Square and Chris Brown. We caught up with Joeboy to discuss his new album Somewhere Between Beauty & Magic, writing hit tracks like “Baby” through adversity and what steps have led to such an exceptional journey into music.

 

Joeboy may only be 23 but he certainly holds his own in the growing landscape of afrobeats. His career started under Mr Eazi’s emPawa Africa initiative in 2017 after getting the attention of the revered artist from an Instagram video covering Ed Sheeran’s “Shape Of You”. Mr Eazi eventually encouraged the then 21-year-old to sign up to #emPawa100, a funding and mentorship program, which helped facilitate Joeboy’s very first video for his single “Fààji”.

Prior to his signing at emPawa Joeboy would be found head down studying for his Human Resource Management degree at the University of Lagos. An invaluable asset that proved to be useful in his life beyond the halls of university, especially within the music industry. Growing up, Joeboy shares with us that singing in a church choir with his older brother was an experience which has had a lasting impact on his sound to this day, “I learnt a lot about harmonizing from going to choir practices with my elder brother and it kind of developed my love for music subconsciously” he tells us.

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Words by  Sophia Hill

Photography Danielle Mbonu

Stylist Yomi Awosope

Project Manager Ugo Anyamele

He approaches his style with an effortless composure. Combine this with his gracious and tender-hearted nature, and Joeboy has quickly adopted the role as Lagos’ latest pop wonder. With thanks to the success of last year's “Nobody” and a sturdy line-up of other hits, 2020 proved to be an epic year for the young star. Talking about the intended impact of his music Joeboy contemplates the necessity for some positivity these days “life can get crazy sometimes and we all need that positive boost from time to time,” he says “that’s what I give in the form of music. My music is the antidote you need in your life.”

With lockdown starting to ease up, the temperature slowly rising and the anticipation of a summer bursting with quality music, Joeboy’s buoyant notes of serenity are here to guide us through it all. For Joeboy it’s not about the fame or being impressive, it’s about being honest, and honesty is a capabilty that very few posses – “In everything I do, I make sure I am true to myself, I can never falter as long as I always keep it real with myself.” he explains. From music once being just a fantasy, to becoming as highly regarded as the artists he saw as ‘superheroes’, there is no question that Joeboy’s will grace the world with a legacy to be proud of.

 

His most recent album, Somewhere Between Beauty & Magic, which landed in February, comes filled with serene, uplifting beats expertly pieced together by OxygenMix and production from E Kelly, Killertunes, Dëra, BeatsbyKO, MOG, BigFish, Tempo, MexFlairz, Semzi and Type A. Currently the 14-track album presents no featuring vocal acts, however Joeboy assures us we can expect to see a second volume later this year, and the first taste of this has landed with additional vocals on the track “Door” with Ghanaian artist, Kwesi Arthur.

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NW: Growing up in a Yoruba household were you immersed into the world of music from a young age? Are there any notable influences?

 

J: Yes I was immersed into the world of music at a young age and had a lot of musical influences growing up, from listening to 2Baba, D'Banj, 9ice, P-Square, Chris Brown and a lot more.

Do you feel the impact of growing up with church music on your sound today?

 

Yes I really do, I learnt a lot about harmonizing from going to choir practices with my elder brother and it kind of developed my lo