Sun | Oct 1, 2023

Five Questions with Joeboy

Published:Friday | October 28, 2022 | 12:06 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer

Breaking away from the alté music that helped to usher his name into the industry, Joeboy is now reshaping Afrobeats by encapsulating all the elements of his personality and everything about the modern music, including the dancehall genre, without compromising on his individuality. His rise has been a remarkably fast one, after being discovered by Nigerian recording star Mr Eazi of emPawa Music, whose sound has also been dancehall-influenced. The alté (Nigerian lingo for alternative music) song which Joeboy used five years ago to capture hearts was Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You. Having gone viral, it led to a partnership with the emPawa label.

“Making covers of popular songs was the stepping stone I needed,” Joeboy said in an interview with The Gleaner. “And this has been a beautiful journey for a young boy growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, the city where everything happens musically.”

Growing up around with a father who played piano, and siblings who also played instruments and sang in a choir, music is both nature and nurture for Joeboy. It started out with alternative as well as R&B, listening to artistes such as Westlife, Boyz II Men, Nelly and Beyoncé, but he has discovered a whole new and exciting world in dancehall, he said.

“I stumbled upon Sean Paul, I think it was his music first because he crossed over in our region a long time ago. I love the track Temperature, it gets me hype, because ‘I got the right temprecha to shelta you from di storm’,” Joeboy shared as he transitioned into deejaying the lyrics.

Joeboy is coming off Sip (Alcohol) one of the past year’s biggest Afrobeats hits and a number one song all across the Caribbean, where he took inspiration from reggae and dancehall, and on Friday, October 7, he released Likkle Riddim in which he delves further into dancehall. The only thing left is for the fast-rising star to make his way to the Caribbean music mecca – and it so happens Jamaica is on Joeboy’s ‘bucket list’ of places to travel. In this week’s Five Questions with … he shares the reason he wants to visit the island, other countries on the list as well as his expectations.

1. What are some of the countries you would like to travel to and why?

I really wanted to come Jamaica this year but it was not possible. So, it is on my bucket list. I love the music coming out of there and I would to connect with the artistes and see what it is to experience the culture. After discovering Sean Paul, I went to read and listen more about Jamaican reggae and dancehall, learned about Bob Marley – whose music is a breath of fresh air – and it only keeps me interested. Other countries on my list are: Japan, I used to go to a lot of Japanese movies when I was younger, and watch original Anime and it’s intriguing, because I’ve read it is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world; Norway and Australia are far from where I’m from, and the climate is pretty different. I’ve read the sun in Norway shines for like 24 hours and doesn’t go dark around summer. I would love to witness that.

2. How would you want Jamaican critics – not the fans – to react to your music, and if it’s not the most positive for the new single and music that is to come, what would be your next step in engaging the audience?

At the end of the day, I make music that feels beautiful to me. I can only hope or believe people will love the music as much as I do. One thing I’ve learnt is once the music is out into the space, it is out, and you can’t take it out (unless legally it has to be removed but people will still have it). Likkle Riddim is a beautiful song and I’m pretty sure more people, not just Jamaicans but in the wider Caribbean, will hear it and appreciate it for the fusion and how it also highlights my own culture. As the track’s title suggests, its lyrics borrowed from Jamaican patois but the sound is something fresh and entirely unique, courtesy of P Prime who produced tracks like Loading by Olamide and Anoti by Wizkid. I have been listening to a lot of Dexta Daps, Mavado and I-Waata and I was really inspired by elements of each of their music and listening to their beats, let me see how I can fuse my African-ness into it. Some parts of the lyrics, I have an African slang so people can relate to it here as well.

3. How perceptive has your audience been to your fusing Afrobeats with other genres like dancehall?

No artiste I know wants to be stuck in a box, I certainly don’t want to be. Music should be a fun process and it has always been for me – from trying new music which is what makes it most fun – to people’s reactions. I’ve been getting a lot of dance videos and the song made number three in three days of its release, so I’d say persons have been very perceptive. I want to make music that no matter how time shot by it makes a lot of sense and that can transcend borders, thankfully it is, as people are noticing (so) I can’t wait to see how far the song and my brand will go.

4. What would you have been doing if not music?

I’d be running some business or working as a banker. I studied human resource management at the University of Lagos in Nigeria. It is very important for me, in making sure to branch out the platform into other businesses like fashion and farming too. This is a major goal.

5. Who are some of the Jamaican reggae-dancehall artistes in your daily music playlist or who you would like to collaborate with?

The music coming out from Skillibeng to Koffee are some of what I like. Big love to Sean Paul. I forever love his music. I recently discovered I-Waata, so I’m listening to him and Dexta Daps, he sings with so much passion, and Shenseea is one of the female stars whose music I admire. I’m really not sure when I’ll get to come Jamaica but definitely before next year ends I’ll be in the Caribbean. It’s London this month-end, Mauritius and Gambia and early next year touring the US again, but let’s see who I get to collaborate with.