emPawa, launched last year, awards funding and promotion for music videos by emerging artists based in or originally from Africa.
In January 2016, Oluwatosin Ajibade, the Nigerian singer who performs as Mr Eazi, released the video for his song "Skin Tight," featuring Efya. The romantic visual, funded by one of his best friends, racked up 23 million views on YouTube, paving the way for a 2017 partnership with Apple Music as one of its Next Up artists and more recent collaborations with Beyoncé, Major Lazer and Bad Bunny.
The video helped Eazi become one of Africa's most promising new talents. Now he wants to help jump-start the careers of other musicians the same way. In July 2018, Eazi launched emPawa, an initiative that provides music video grants for 100 emerging artists based in or originally from Africa. The funding covers expenses and workshops for making a professional-level video, with Eazi promising to promote the final products on social media to his 700,000 Twitter and 2.8 million Instagram followers. Artists like Diplo and such Afrobeats producers as E. Kelly, Juls and GuiltyBeatz are on board as program mentors.
"One major thing that touched me," says Eazi about the program, "is seeing people in bad positions — kicked out of their homes, not being able to pay rent, dropping out of school — and seeing how emPawa has rekindled their hope."