On February 26, 2020, Nigerian star, Mr Eazi announced the talent roster for the #emPawa30, the latest phase of his celebrated emPawa Africa program.

30 African artists have been selected to participate in the program - a talent incubator that provides emerging artists with the tools, startup funding and mentorship to become artist-entrepreneurs.

In 2018, emPawa Africa launched with the #emPawa100, which provided grants to 100 artists from 11 African countries, helping launch a new wave of African music stars such as Joeboy, Lady Donli, J.Derobie and Karun.

To be considered for the program, entrants were asked to upload a short video clip of themselves performing with the hashtag #emPawa30. More than 30,000 entries were received, and evaluated by the emPawa team and his team of music-industry colleagues.

In an interview today with Rolling Stone, Eazi said this of the emPawa program, “It could be the voice; it could be the flow. Then we do a deep dive — what have they been putting out on their profile, other songs. Then we reach out to them to send us some music. Then, when we’re convinced, we send them in with producers to get a sense of whether they can go in and make stuff. After all those steps, we select.”

Each artist in the #emPawa30 will receive a $10,000 non-repayable grant towards filming their first professional-quality music video, as well as mentorship, marketing services and other support to launch their international recording career.

Artists will be assigned an individual mentor and video director, with whom they will work directly throughout the seven-month program. Mentors include Diplo, DJ Maphorisa, Jae5, Fred Gibson, Shekinah and Harmonize. Afrobeats producers, E-Kelly, Gultybeatz, Killertunes, DJ Neptune and Mr Eazi himself will also be mentors.

The 10 artists who display the most promise will be flown to a three-week masterclass in Ghana circa June 2020. They will receive business, songwriting, marketing and production training. Of these, two artists will receive additional funding to cover management, marketing and legal fees throughout 2020, as well as to create additional music and videos.

Taking inspiration from his own experiences participating in business incubators as a young tech entrepreneur — and the generosity of friends who helped launch his music career in 2015 — Mr Eazi conceived emPawa Africa as a new model for artist development.

Since its launch, the company has grown into a music distributor and label services company with clients including Eazi’s own Banku Music label, as well as African music stars Simi (Nigeria), King Promise (Ghana) and Joey B (Ghana).

emPawa is an initiative I created with one simple mission: Helping new artists reach their full potential musically by equipping them with the knowledge and funding to do so,” says Mr Eazi. “It’s something I wish someone had created when I first started making music. Sometimes, all it takes is that one person to believe in you.”

THE #EMPAWA30:

Bemisoul (USA/Nigeria)

Bosom P Yung (Ghana)

C Natty (Nigeria)

Camidoh (Ghana)

Camo Blaizz (Nigeria)

Donel (UK/Zimbabwe)

DonFreezy (Nigeria)

Dopeprince (Nigeria)

Exposuremuzik (Ghana)

Fresh Prince (Nigeria)

GoodGirl LA (Nigeria)

Grace Idowu (Nigeria)

James Garlimah (Canada/Liberia)

July 7 (UK/Nigeria)

Kamo Mphela (South Africa)

Macjreyz (Nigeria)

Marioo (Tanzania)

Mizzle (Nigeria)

Namenj (Nigeria)

Oiza & Meyi (Nigeria)

Sishii (South Africa)

Solana (Nigeria)

Tomiwa Dudobo (Nigeria)

TU2 (Nigeria)

Xenia Manasseh (Kenya)

Yung Meagan (Cameroon)

Yusuf Kanbai (Nigeria)

Zaman (Nigeria)

Zarion Uti (USA/Nigeria)