There is no gainsaying that serial entrepreneur and celebrated singer, Oluwatosin Ajibade better known by his stage name as Mr Eazi is one of the creative and business visionaries leading African music into its future.
When he founded emPawa Africa, his dream was that of a talent incubator programme that will fund and mentor emerging African artistes to enable them reach their full potential. He first launched the African Music Fund (AMF) with an initial investment of $20 million dedicated to African creatives. The fund’s lead investor, 88mph, is known for its seed fund aimed at digital startups launching in Africa. And to help accelerate his objectives over the past one year of its existence, Mr Eazi equally floated the digital music aggregator, emPawa Distribution. Both initiatives have been hailed by CNN, Rolling Stone, Billboard and Forbes for their forward-thinking approach. In accordance with the mantra of empowering the next generation of African artistes, Mr. Eazi’s emPawa Africa has expanded her reach to Northern Nigeria to ensure no stone is left unturned in exploring talents across Nigeria and Africa.
The label has since added DJ AB and Namenj to its roster of talented artists. DJ AB —born Haruna Abdullahi— hails from Kaduna and has been on the emPawa radar for quite a while. He started his musical career in 2011 as a singer, rapper, producer and songwriter and has grown to become one of the most sought after artistes in the Northern part of Nigeria with hit songs like Su Baba Ne, Yar Boko and Babarsa. He also won the Northern Nigeria Best Singer of the Year Award in 2019 and clinched multiple City People Music Award Nominations for Best Rap Artiste of the Year, Best Kannywood Hip-Hop Artist of the Year and Arewa Artiste of the Year.
For Namenj, whose real name is Ali Jubril Namanjo, he lives a nomadic lifestyle across Jos, Maiduguri and Kano. He shone into the limelight with his Hausa cover of Adekunle Gold’s Orente in 2015 and was discovered by Mr Eazi through the emPawa30 Artiste Talent Programme. He released his debut single, ‘Rayuwata’ in July 2020 with the visuals directed by the prolific Adasa Cookey. He was also featured in the Nobody Hausa Remix by the award-winning disc jockey, ‘DJ Neptune’ on the Nobody Worldwide Remixes Album. Namenj is not resting on his laurels as he is set to release a new song, Fatana, early next month.
The signing of DJ AB and Namenj is destined to give Arewa music a huge leap into the global scene via Mr Eazi’s network, as he is confident that his bets on Namenj and DJ Abba will pay off in coming years. While still combing the nooks and crannies of Nigeria and Africa for budding talents and spreading his tentacles with considerable funding and investments in places where the big players would ideally not be interested in, Mr Eazi remains committed to discovering, raising and empowering African artistes into ‘artist-preneurs’. On his own as a recording artist, Mr. Eazi has been the voice behind numerous Afropop hits including “Pour Me Water,” “Skin Tight” (featuring Efya) and “Leg Over,” as well as groundbreaking collaborations with the likes of Beyoncé, Bad Bunny and J Balvin.