In 2017, the Nigerian artist Joeboy released a gliding cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” — a twisty-turny take on the original, where Joeboy slips into double-time cadences during the verses, making the beat seem flat-footed in the process.
At the time, Joeboy was unknown and unsigned. But one of his friends was committed to him reaching a wider audience. “She said, ‘your music is too good to not have attention,’ so she sent it to a bunch of artists in their DMs,” Joeboy explains. One of those artists was Mr. Eazi, who has over five million monthly listeners on Spotify and a string of high-profile international collaborations on his resume.
Mr. Eazi presumably gets more than his fair share of DMs, but he watched Joeboy’s video. Not long after, he reached out to the young singer with a proposal: Join emPawa Africa, an incubator program that funds music videos and provides career guidance for young artists.