Interview

Interview: Joeboy On What It Means to Be an African Popstar

We talk to the buzzing Nigerian about his debut album, Somewhere Between Beauty and Magic.

It is undeniable that Joeboy is an African pop star. Back in 2017, the Nigerian artist attracted the attention of Mr Eazi—whom he signed a record deal with— through a cover of Ed Sheeran's global hit, "Shape Of You." After a false start with the Mr Eazi-assisted "Faaji," Joeboy's spotlight moment came with his 2019 continental hit, "Baby," which gained heavy recognition in East Africa before rising to the peak in Joeboy's home country, Nigeria. Since then, Joeboy has been on a never-ending rollercoaster releasing hit singles such as "Beginning," "Don't Call Me Back" and a five-track EP titled Love and Light.

While Joeboy has ascended into popstar royalty, winning the hearts of girls across Africa, he has also amassed a reputation for making songs that are short and to the point. "I promise you, I genuinely do not care if it is one-minute. If it is sweet, it is sweet. There is no deliberate reason behind it, it is not something I plan. To be honest, it stops when it stops and if it is there, I don't try to force it to make it three minutes" Joeboy says to me candidly when I sit with him just before his performance at a virtual concert in Lagos, Nigeria.

Backstage at the venue, Joeboy dons a black corduroy ensemble, and not long after he arrives at the building where the virtual performance is to take place, he is swamped by people of different age groups, who attempt to take pictures with him. One woman in her late 30s, presumably a facility officer at the building, rushes in after the crowd disperses and takes pictures with Joeboy. Afterwards, she openly declares with unbridled joy "Finally!! My enemies must see that I have met Joeboy" like she had achieved a lifelong goal. This is the impact that Joeboy possesses.

Joeboy's music, often love-centric, contains infectious melodies that spread warmth and joy. It is no wonder he has accrued almost half a billion streams across streaming platforms. Finally, when the room clears and the songs to be performed at the virtual concert have been scheduled, I speak with Joeboy about his long-awaited debut album titled Somewhere Between Beauty and Magic. "The album is finalised but with the way I move, if I wake up in the morning, and some spirit or strong conviction comes that I should change something, I will." Joeboy says to me frankly.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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