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Mr. Eazi Wants to Expand Africa’s Reach — One Music Video at a Time

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 told me, ‘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. 

Joeboy agreed to be a member of emPawa’s inaugural class; now he’s a poster boy for its potential benefits. Earlier this year, the singer put out “Baby,” a ruthlessly graceful love song. “Currently it’s Number One on Apple Music in Nigeria, Number One in Uganda, Top 10 in Zambia, Top 10 in Zimbabwe, and Number Two in Kenya,” Joeboy says gleefully. “Apparently it popped.”

emPawa initially sprang from Mr. Eazi’s desire to replicate a key moment in his career. “He always told us the story of the $1,000 investment someone made in his career and how that

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