Audio

Cameroonian MC & Producer Jovi On Composing Akon's Comeback Hit

One of our favorite Cameroonian acts talks about producing and writing Akon's "Shine The Light."

Jovi. Photo via New Bell Music.


The standout track from Akon’s comeback album Stadium, ”Shine the Light”, marries Cameroonian guitar lines, accentuated percussion and the Senegalese-American superstar’s trademark sleek vocals.

A little digging reveals that “Shine The Light” was originally composed by the rapper & producer Jovi—one of our favorite Cameroonian acts—under his production alias Le Monstre.

The song, which was originally going to opening track on Jovi’s Mboko God, is influenced by Cameroonian church choirs and samples the vocals of Cameroonian artists Reniss, Daddy Black and Jovi himself.

We talked to Jovi via e-mail below to get the scoop on how the track ended up in Akon’s hands.

How did you link up with Akon?

Akon came to Cameroon to do a concert and the VP of A&R of Konvict Music at the time, Fotemah Mba (T'Mah), came with him. T'Mah is originally from Cameroon. He met Je Wanda Magazine founder Celine Fotso and expressed an interest in meeting me. Celine Fotso arranged a meeting between us, so we made a trip to Douala to see him. We met him at this hotel and we played him our music for him. That was a day after the Akon show.

Did he know your music?

I don't know if Akon knew my music. But I was a fan of Akon's because I grew up listening to him. A lot of African kids of my generation grew up listening to Akon's music.

I came to him with the beat and the idea for "Shine the Light." [The song] was going to be the opening track for Mboko God. I played it for T’mah and he liked it. He asked if he could give it to Akon to listen.

What was the inspiration behind your beat on “Shine The Light”?

The guitar line and the vocal sample were written and composed by me. The vocal sample was inspired by the way the church choir sings in my village. I wanted it to have that feel. The vocal sample I composed constitutes of three vocalists who contributed their voices: Daddy Black, Reniss and myself. I composed the guitar melody and Mt. Cameroon (aka Fracoise) replayed it.

I also contributed the lyrics for the chorus. That chorus was part of the song and instrumental track I sent. Akon did the verses after I sent the song. I wasn't in the studio with him. It was done remotely, but we talked on the phone a couple times.

I'm very happy that someone I respect as much as Akon appreciates and supports my work. It inspires me to create more, and encourages me to continue to use African influences in my music.

Check out Jovi’s Top Music Video of 2015 choice “Zélé.”

Interview

Interview: Terri Is Stepping Out of the Shadows

We talk to the Wizkid-signed artist about the story behind the massive hit "Soco" and his latest Afro Series EP.

Certain afrobeats songs have made in-roads in international markets and paved the way for the genre's ceaselessly-rising widespread recognition. Among these history-defining songs were D'banj's "Oliver Twist," Tekno's "Pana," Davido's "If" & "Fall," Runtown's "Mad Over You," and of course, Wizkid's "Soco." Wizkid released "Soco" under his label imprint, Starboy Entertainment in March 2018, and the song spread like wildfire across Africa and beyond. "Soco" was an Afro-pop wonder delivered at a time when the 'afrobeats to the world' movement was gathering steam, further cementing its electric nature. The Northboi-produced song was co-signed by celebrities across the world like Rihanna, Cardi B, and Paul Pogba and has accrued well over a hundred million streams across streaming platforms worldwide.

"Soco" was not only a trailblazer amongst mid-2010s afrobeats records, it was also the introduction of the first Wizkid-signed artist, Terri. Just weeks before "Soco" was released, Terri was discovered by Wizkid's longtime producer, Mutay, who saw him covering the song "Oshe" on social media.

Before "Soco," Terri Akewe was well on his way to fame. At fifteen, he had performed at street carnivals in his neighbourhood and, one time, was carried all the way home by neighbours after winning a Coca-Cola sponsored singing competition. Before his life-changing meeting with Wizkid, Terri had a seven-track EP ready for release, as well as a viral song titled "Voices." "One time I was on set with the video director T.G Omori, he told me that 'Voices' was the first time he heard of me" Terri tells me as we settle on a plush couch at his home in Lagos.

Regardless of Terri's initial career trajectory; signing to a label headed by afrobeats' biggest superstar was bound to accelerate his musical journey, and at the same time, cast a huge shadow of expectation on his career, especially given a debut as spectacular as "Soco." With his latest EP, Afro Series, powered by the sensational single "Ojoro," one thing is clear: Terri is stepping out of the shadows into his own spotlight and he is doing it on his own terms.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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