With Afrobeats taking over on a global scale, it’s only right we pay homage to the artists who are paving the way. Insert Joeboy, one of the biggest, rising African artists to date. Hailing from Lagos, Nigeria, the singer-songwriter creates his own lane straddling the genres of Afropop and R&B.
Boasting 2.9 million followers on Instagram alone, Joeboy was discovered by Mr. Eazi, who went on to sign him to his emPawa Africa imprint back in 2017. Fast forward to today, Mr. Eazi serves as Joeboy’s biggest fan.
Most recently, Joeboy unveiled his newest EP titled Body, Soul & Spirit. The five-track project speaks volumes to his current state of mind, especially after a rather emotional year. This also serves as his most vulnerable project yet, touching on topics such as navigating societal pressures, paranoia, insecurity and the dark side of love.
The Source spoke with Joeboy virtually to discuss the moment he fell in love with Hip-Hop, his new project, why he started singing, and more!
What was the moment you fell in love with hip-hop?
I was 6, 7 years old and I used to watch Nelly videos. “It’s getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes! I am getting so hot…” I know I was too young to listen to that kind of music. I fell in love with hip-hop immediately. Nelly was the first rapper I could rap word for word.
You guys gotta do a song together!
If it’s possible, it’s going to happen for sure. Maybe when I see him. When I come to the US next, maybe I’ll come across him and we’ll make something happen.
New album Body, Soul, & Spirit out now. What does this project mean to you?
Body, Soul & Spirit has been my most introspective project yet. I decided to do something and create music that felt the most original to me. I wasn’t creating this music with the mindset of ‘Oh, I want it to be like this or be like that. ‘I let it come naturally. I knew that one way or the other, it’d connect with people. Songs like “Only God Can Save Me,” “Surviving,” “Enemy” are songs that connect with people spiritually.
Also, the original plan was to release the deluxe for the album I dropped earlier this year, Body & Soul. But my label wanted an EP. I said okay, I’ll just kill two birds with one stone. I’ll make it an EP, but it’s going to feel like an extension of the album.
What’s the significance in the title?
The idea of Body, Soul & Spirit, every song on there touches on those three different aspects. The song “24/7” is about me just wanting to enjoy myself so that signifies body. When you hear the song “Surviving,” you feel something in your soul. The song “Only God Can Save Me” represents the spiritual aspect. Me personally, I believe in spirituality. I believe the spiritual controls the physical. Being a very spiritual person has helped me overcome a lot of challenges that might have taken me off the edge. But thankfully, I believe in spirituality. I believe in God. Me believing in that process really helped me become a better person.
I know you were going through it when you made the project. How much was music therapy for you?
Me personally, I like to make music about my experiences in that particular time. I like to make sure it’s original, so whatever I’m singing about is probably something that happened to me. Most of the time, it’s something that happened to me and I decided to express it. For me, it’s a form of therapy. Let me make music about my experiences, that helps me feel better.
People end up loving it. I get messages all the time. The song ‘“Only God Can Save Me,” I get a lot of DMs from my fans or people that listen to me that go, ‘That song is so real, it’s my state of mind at that particular point in time.’ That’s the major goal for me — to connect people’s souls. It goes beyond every other thing. If I can connect with you as a person, if you listen to me and go, “Wow, this guy’s actually speaking to me right now, he’s singing my mind right now.”
What made you start singing?
It came naturally. I love listening to music. I grew up in a music-loving family. My dad used to play keyboards. My elder siblings were in the choir. It was something I enjoyed, it was fun. I love watching music videos, I love watching Michael Jackson. Music was an escape for me, it wasn’t even planned but it was preordained.
The first time I ever recorded a song, I went to the studio with my friend who was an artist who was like “I’m going to the studio.” I said, “Oh, let me go with you.” Just as a random observer. When we’re recording, I said let me try something. And I did. That’s how music started for me. From there, I started recording and making covers. Started posting covers. Then a particular cover blew up, of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You.” That was how I connected with Mr. Eazi. To cut along story short, here we are.
What does Mr. Eazi think of the project?
He loves it! Mr Eazi is probably one of my biggest fans. I always send him my music. He always says “adjust this, adjust that.” That’s my G.
I love the music video to “24/7,” what inspired this?
When I was growing up, when I was in university, I thought I was going to end up being a banker and end up working in an office. The idea for “24/7” was what if that was my destiny and I ended up becoming a banker, that was the person I would be. I’d be carefree and be the life of the office. I decided to make that a video. Like OK, how would you have been if you’re a banker? I asked myself that question. Oh, that exactly makes sense. I decided to make it into a video. Amazing, amazing video. I love the storyline.
Do you think you’d be happy with a 9 to 5?
No, I would not be happy with a 9 to 5. Definitely. Even before I blew up and I was in uni, I used to always dread it. I don’t like too many rules. When something’s so defined and predictive like oh, every day’s the same thing. I knew I wouldn’t be happy in a 9 to 5, for sure. Music is more 24/7. Music is actually more intense when it comes to the work time, but it’s something I genuinely enjoy doing. So it’s all good.
How do you feel about where you are now?
I am happy. It’s a blessing, I’m honored. When I was in high school, secondary school, I did not seem like the kind of person that was going to end up being a famous or popular person. Or that’s going to end up in this line of work. You could ask even my secondary schoolmates, they can’t believe it. They’re like “I didn’t know you could sing.” God decided to change my path. It’s beautiful how you never know where life will take you. Everything that I have achieved and I’m achieving, it’s way beyond my expectations and I’m grateful for that. That motivates me to keep going and improving on myself, and doing things on a bigger and larger scale.
People are complaining about the “Enemy” open verse. Why only females?
The song “Enemy” is a conversation between me and a lady. So I was like Okay, I’ll make an open verse for just females, so ladies can respond to me with their own version. I’m speaking as a guy in a relationship, so I need a response from the ladies. A lot of guys are fighting me, but I have something for the guys too. Just be patient.
What do you say to someone who wants to start singing?
Make sure it’s something that you genuinely love. Don’t do it because you want to be famous or rich, or you feel it’s the next best thing to do because everybody around you is doing it. It has to be natural, it has to be something you love. For me, it was something I enjoyed doing. Now, I enjoy making music. Whether I’m releasing music or not, I’ll always be recording or writing songs, or making a song or helping somebody write their song. That’s always been it for me. I always tell my people, my friends: I’m not famous because I want to be famous, but because I’m very good at what I do. The negative parts of the music and the hustle doesn’t really get to me because at the end of the day, I’m doing what I love.
What’re you excited for next?
Global domination on a bigger scale. I’m so happy for the next phase of my career. Now, my mind is so clear. This is the clearest mind I’ve had since the very beginning of my career. I have the plan, I have the vision. I’m more confident, I’m more intentional. I have a lot of people around me that’s ready to get the job done. I’m so excited for what’s to come.