Nigeria’s Joeboy makes life-affirming pop music

Throughout the next few months, Chicago will host several concerts featuring contemporary Nigerian pop stars, and Joeboy in particular is a must-see. Born Joseph Akinwale Akinfenwa-Donus, the 24-year-old singer attracted international attention in 2019 for his summery single “Baby,” a love song with a loping chord progression and an overarching yet understated chipperness that’s ready to burst at the seams. When Joeboy maneuvers between heartfelt singing and rapping, “Baby” explodes with so much color that it channels the exuberant delirium of a relationship’s honeymoon phase. On that song and others, Joeboy proves more adept than most pop stars of the moment at making infatuation palpable. “Show Me,” from his triumphant 2021 debut album, Somewhere Between Beauty and Magic (Banku Music / emPawa Africa), employs an incredible, barely perceptible transition in the moods of his synths. Though their tones initially feel mysterious, Joeboy’s heartfelt declarations as the song progresses propel them into a zone of complete confidence and unbridled euphoria—he won’t stop chasing after love. Somewhere contains Joeboy’s best material to date, and shows that he knows how to ride along to the beats that drive his songs.
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Song You Need to Know: Joeboy, ‘Sip (Alcohol)’

The 24-year-old Nigerian singer Joeboy quietly keeps getting better, from his 2019 breakout single “Baby” to 2020’s “Call” to a handful of songs from his debut album, Somewhere Between Beauty & Magic — especially “Better Thing” — released earlier this year. These tracks achieve the kind of gravity-resistant glide that’s almost vanished in modern popular music, which is often concerned with achieving maximum density, shattering windows and blowing through club doors. While producers keep looking for new ways to plow through obstacles, Joeboy prefers to levitate over them. His latest and greatest is “Sip (Alcohol),” a beautiful merger of Nigerian afrobeats...
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Joeboy talks debut album Somewhere Between Beauty And Magic and global superstar ambitions

Earlier this month, Nigerian artist Joeboy released his long-awaited debut album, the contemplatively titled Somewhere Between Beauty & Magic. The response, particularly in his homeland, has been huge; perhaps unsurprising given the 22-year-old has been on a sharp upward trajectory since the release of 2019's Love & Light EP. The...
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Song You Need to Know: Joeboy, 'Better Thing'

Joeboy has a knack for the sticky, sub-three-minute single — see his breakout hit “Baby” from 2019, and last year’s “Call.” His voice is not overpowering, but it quavers effectively to communicate longing. And the singer maximizes the impact of his harmonies by picking beats with just a few musical elements. That means that every time he multi-tracks his voice during a chorus it feels like an act of generosity, a reason to draw closer and listen harder.