Joeboy is not your regular 22-year-old. Joseph Akinfenwa Donus has been all the rave since his viral hit single and video to Baby dropped to unforeseen chart success and critical acclaim earlier this year. The song’s appeal grew so much that that it peaked at the top 10 of Apple music charts in Kenya, Uganda and his native Nigeria.
Yet still like all 22-year olds, he is nonchalant and soft-spoken, in stark contrast to the lad’s music career’s trajectory could not look any brighter, not with the release of his new EP Love & Light and a repertoire of impressive performances both home and overseas, the latest being the just-concluded Nai Fest at the Ngong Racecourse.
“It was all Mr Eazy’s idea, and not mine. I think that they are really funny and love that they tell stories,” he says of the viral video to his song Baby and his signature animated videos.
His relationship with Eazi dates back to 2017, when Joeboy did a cover of Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You.
“Impressed, my friend sent it to Mr Eazi who immediately reached out to me in his quest to help me break through,” he recalls.
Later, Joeboy made it to Eazy’s emPawa programme, which sought to put gifted African artistes on a platform that would launch and catapult their careers into mainstream success. Joeboy was 1 0f 10,000 applicants from 14 African countries.
Eventually, he emerged as the first of 100 recipients to earn a share of $300,000 (Sh30.5 million). Among other recipients of the emPawa windfall were Kenyan singer Karun.
Fast forward to 2019 and Joe Boy is still trying to wrap his mind around the fact he snagged an Afrimma for Best Artiste in African Pop and that his songs are on heavy rotation the continent over.
On his love life, Joe Boy refutes claims that he is all sprung on a damsel of English descent.
“My girlfriend is Nigerian and not from the United Kingdom. She is very understanding of my life in the spotlight, and that makes life absolutely easy,” he reveals.
Would he ever cuff someone he met at the club?
“Definitely. If I like you, I could not care less where I met you,” he quips. He studied Human Resources at the University of Lagos and, ironically, has never attended a job interview.
“I sent numerous applications to offices while still in university, never to get a call back,” he explains.
Not that it will stop him from touring Europe and the United States, which he plans to, next year.