Jo’ Wayne’s name might not ring a bell in the ears of many people. Born Jonathan Elorm Way Kpoh, the artist, producer, mix/mastering engineer started out, first, as a rapper but had to switch up his musical direction to singing.Considering how tough and demanding the music turf is on this side of the world, it is jaw dropping to hear someone combining music with another tough and demanding occupation. For Jo’ Wayne (a moniker derived from his names Jonathan and Wayne), it is a necessary evil.
Currently studying at the University of Development Studies as a Doctor of Laboratory Medicine – he’s in Level 600- the University of Cape Coast alumnus is finding a balance between his two dreams: of becoming a doctor and a musician. Despite his love for music from an earlier age, Jo’ Wayne’s involvement with the art form kick started, officially, in 2012. The aftermath of his decision was the release of two ‘experimental’ EPs.
This desire to excel at his vocation is displayed on his recently released EP: ”This Is Nothing For The Radio” (TINFR). Running through the six track EP, one realizes how ironic the title of the EP and its contents are. The songs are actually radio formatted. ”TINFTR” is a tape filled with jams that reflect the rhythms of today, themes of hard work, love, and a singing voice that reflect the talent of Jo’ Wayne.
The first track of the EP demonstrates these elements elegantly. A fusion of catchy highlife groves, R&B melodies and slapping trap drums,”Fuck Boys Anthem” lives to its name. Its bouncy, flamboyant feel,complimented by Jo’ Wayne’s unapologetic ‘hit it and quit’ mind-set sums up the attitude of ‘damaged’ man. “I don’t fall in love/And I don’t want you around’; ‘I don’t have shit but I got tricks/ She gon’ believe I got diamonds and pearls”, My heart is for myself/ My body is for these girls’’ and'”When we finish, she no go see me/ I go pack my things and run it”are the traits of fuck boys. (The last lyric conjures scenes of Chris Brown running off with Maya’s coffee after a night’s stand in “Think Like A Man”). Granted, being a fuck boy isn’t a great badge to wear. It’s,however interesting to hear Jo’ Wayne’s honesty by seeking a lady’s consent (‘’if she’s with it’’) before taken her home.
Unrequited love is tackled on “War of Roses (Bye Bye); a 2007/8 RnB crafted tune where he cries over a lost love: ”I could have taken a bullet in my heart for you”. This disclosure comes with a painful sting in his voice. He finally admits to being a ‘fool for you’ and felt “used to do the dirty job for you’. Jo’ Wayne sounds like a side-bae who was used to occupy an emptiness and spat out after fallen for her. One could hear traces of the singer Chase in his style. If unrequited love is painful, then being friend zoned (which is also the title of the track) might be self-destructive. Being in that zone is like suffering from constipation: you are pregnant with feelings you can’t vocalize. Jo’ Wayne discharged his pent-up feelings towards a girl he’s crushing on over an afropop beat.
“Win”, a trappy tune like the title indicate, is a celebratory tune about success. Jo’ Wayne isn’t ready to let the naysayers get into his head. I kept wondering how an anthem this would potentially become if Jo’ Wayne was to get LaMeme’s $pacely on this joint. ‘’This Is Not For Radio’’ closes with the mid-tempo, afropop “Hustlers Dream” (Baba Nla) on which Jo’ Wayne reminds himself on the importance of hardwork.
“If this is not for the radio then, what else is?’ was the final rhetorical question posed at the end of the EP; confirming the irony in the title. On melodies, production and themes tackled – narrowing on themes of love and staying successful- hands it a focused direction. The R&B mood the EP exude says much about Jo’ Wayne’s musical influences- he’s not trying to recapture that era, but doing his bit to advance it within the context of today’s sonic cravings.
As impressive as the EP is, I kept wondering where Jo’ Wayne’s own voiceis, especially on Friend Zone. You couldn’t fail to notice a similarity with JoeyB when he’s singing. This perhaps, might be coincidental. Still on “FriendZone”, the song could have stood on its own without Romeo Swag.
In this briefing, Jo Wayne throws further light on the EP, how passionate he’s about music, improving on his craft and how he supports his projects.
On naming the EP ‘This Is Not For Radio’:
The EP was motivated by the fact that I’d wanted to create music that could stand the test of time (not a tape that would be played a couple of times on the radio and then forgotten about. Thus, something for keeps and not just for the radio). Also, due to the fact that I had no funds to push my music onto the radio, I was creating something that could help me raise funds to support the promotion of my craft both on and off air. I decided to name it as such.
On financing his craft
Financing my craft hasn’t been any easier since I started. Usually, I fund my projects solely since I’ve not yet had a financier to do that. I’ll have to save up the little tokens I get from being a producer or a mix/mastering engineer on other artist’s projects or resort to borrowing from some friends. Sometimes, I’m supported by some few friends who willingly donate to my cause. I recently decided to sell hard copies of my new EP in order to get the funds to help me put it up on the shelves of some popular digital stores.
On what music means to him:
I could give the normal speech of music being my passion and I want to pursue it for that reason. But, I’ll say; though music is truly a passion, I’ll prefer to call it my source of therapy because it is something I could always run to whenever I need to escape the stress of this world (my world). Music also creates an avenue for which I could extend messages being given to me by my inner voices to the world. That’s why I choose music over any other profession because it satisfies my soul.
On improving his craft
Well, it’s been a tough ride but one thing I know is that, practise definitely makes one perfect at something. Why do I say that? It’s because I’ve been juggling music with my academic life since my days of basic education (where I used to be in a church choir) through to my senior high school days (where I had to run to town to record songs that I could perform on entertainment nights and at events) and so I became acquainted with how to do the two simultaneously without having deficits in either.
On how he promotes his songs:
I usually use my social media pages and call for one or two favors from friends who’re bloggers and DJs, but to be honest, that really doesn’t cover a wider range of audience who’re interested in my stuff and so I give free performances at events sometimes. I also try my best to personally roam and showcase my works to people I may meet at public places.