'I'm A Living Testimony' — How Afrobeats Star Joeboy Went From 0 To 100 Thanks To Viral Success
Photo Credit: Emily Nkanga

'I'm A Living Testimony' — How Afrobeats Star Joeboy Went From 0 To 100 Thanks To Viral Success

There’s no denying that Afrobeats is one of, if not the, hottest genres currently in the music industry.

As African artists continue to crossover, U.S. listeners have been captivated by hits like Wizkid and Tems’ “Essence,” Burna Boy’s “Last Last,” and Rema’s “Calm Down.”

While the global phenomenon has taken over the sound waves as of late, there are artists such as Joeboy who knew early on of its promise.

Back in 2017, the Nigerian singer knew he wanted to put his all into pursuing music after his cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” went viral on Instagram.

“People were actually resharing, tagging, and posting a lot and I was like, ‘Okay, I think [music is] something I can definitely go for professionally,” Joeboy recalled to AfroTech in an interview. “[Around] that time I was in my second or third year in Uni and I just decided I was going to put my all into this. Go 100 percent.”

With the buzz around the post, Joeboy’s friend shared it with Mr. Eazi, who advised him to apply to emPawa Africa — his incubator that launched in 2018 to empower the next generation of African artists — according to Billboard. Out of 10,000 applicants across 14 countries, the upcoming artist, at the time, was one of 100 to receive a $300,000 grant to “find mainstream success.”

Fast forward to nearly five years later, Joeboy has become one of today’s biggest Afropop stars. From the time his debut EP “Love & Light” was released, his career under Mr. Eazi’s label took off with hit singles such as “Baby” and “Beginning.” Right after the 2019 project’s success, Joeboy went on to drop music consecutively and win over music fans across Africa. 

Last year, the 25-year-old reached another career milestone with “Sip (Alcohol).” What’s more, he was met with viral success once again after a TikTok challenge of the record took off. In turn, its social media presence pushed it to become arguably his biggest song, as of this writing.

While it has over 50,000,000 streams on Spotify alone, its music video stands at over 78,000,000 views — his highest-viewed video on YouTube to date.

Since Joeboy’s first official single on emPawa Africa’s YouTube channel, he’s no stranger to raking in millions of views.

During the early stages of his career, he saw the streaming giant as a cloud for his music.

“For me, YouTube is an important part of social media marketing when it comes to promoting, on all phases — as an [upcoming] artist or big artist,” Joeboy explained to us. “It was just a way to put out my music. Though I didn’t really have much in terms of marketing resources, I just knew that if I put it out there one way or another, even if it’s three or four years, people would go back to it and play my music.”

Earlier this year, Joeboy found himself further tied to the platform.

During the summer, YouTube announced him as a part of the YouTube Music Foundry Class of 2022. The class features 30 artists representing 15 countries — making it the program’s largest to date — according to a press release.

As a part of the Foundry Class, YouTube Music provides independent artists with seed funding to develop their content and partner support to grow.

For Joeboy, being in the class has allowed him to connect with fellow members around the world and a bigger platform to grow his artistry.

With the active support he’s receiving from YouTube, Joeboy hopes to serve as encouragement for aspiring artists to chase their dreams despite any odds they may face.

“I would tell them to keep pushing and to keep going for their dreams regardless of what the results may be at the current moment. It can always get better. You can go from 0 to 100 real quick. I’m a living testimony of that. If you go back to my mashups, you can see the difference in [my] growth. And I hope to inspire young artists to believe they can also be global artists.”

Not only did Joeboy share that fans can expect a new album very soon exclusively with AfroTech, but he also plans to venture into tech in the near future.