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Mr Eazi. Photo: Emily Nkanga.

Mr Eazi's emPawa Is Reopening to Submissions

30 new artists will receive funding and mentorship from the likes of Diamond Platinumz, Sarkodie, Kwesta, Juls, Diplo and Mr Eazi himself.

Mr Eazi's emPawa initiative, a talent incubator for rising African artists, is reopening to submissions on Friday, August 15.

This time around, emPawa Africa will offer 30 artists the funds to film their music video, as well as offer mentorship and guidance from cemented names like Diamond Platinumz, Sarkodie, Kwesta, Guilty Beatz, Juls, E. Kelly, DJ Neptune, Diplo and Mr Eazi himself, who will all be participating as mentors.

To be considered, artists just have to upload a short video (up to 1 minute in length) to Instagram of themselves performing an original song, cover, or freestyle, with the hashtag #emPawa30.

Read: The Music Business of Mr Eazi

In this second phase of the program both artists based in Africa and across the African diaspora are welcomed to apply. "The #emPawa30 will include 10 artists from Nigeria, 10 artists from other countries on the African continent, and five U.K.-based African artists, with the remaining five spots open to African-born artists in countries around the world, including the U.S. and Canada," a press statement reveals.

YouTube Music will be partnering with emPawa to provide support for the 10 Nigerian artists that are chosen. "It's critical to develop the next generation of talent—and there is so much talent exploding out of Nigeria and the African continent right now," says YouTube's Global Head of Music, Lyor Cohen. "Africa is setting the tempo all around the globe."

In its initial phase last November, emPawa had some notable successes from the likes of Ghana's J. Derobie, Nigeria's Joeboy and others.

The program will close to submissions on September 15, after which each entry will each be evaluated by Mr Eazi and his team.


Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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